Ferrari may have narrowly missed out on becoming Formula 1 world champions this year, but the Italian company is the undisputed leader when it comes to supercars on the road. The new F12, as a result, is an unimaginable combination of humungous power and only rear wheel drive. Yes, all that 730bhp goes through only two wheels rather than four as on other similar supercars.
It’s intimidating to begin with. The F12 feels super wide, the steering is too quick, and there is so much urge from the 730bhp motor, even from just beyond tick-over, you can breach the national speed limit without even properly getting on the throttle.
Soon, my overloaded brain accepts the new rules. You use less lock on the lightning-quick steering, any use of the accelerator is soon accompanied by a tap on the brakes, and keeping one eye on the speedometer quickly becomes second nature. The roads in Maranello, in northern Italy, where I am test-driving, contrary to what you might expect, are as bad as some of those here. So I expect a bone-jarring ride every time we cross over a bad patch. But that just never happens — which, frankly, boggles the mind.
Town soon gives way to country. Wider roads and no stop-lights allow the use of more throttle and revs. Frankly, 300bhp is a lot of power, using 600bhp over long stretches demands fierce concentration, and this car has 730! And the fear factor is real.
This new V12 motor uses direct injection, so the build-up of torque starts early. Ferrari says 80 per cent of the torque comes in by 2,500rpm and that’s entirely believable. Bursts of acceleration now have a springy, limitless feel to them. The motor almost teases you into using more throttle, and excursions up the rev range are accompanied by a massive wall of sound that includes wailing trumpets and chain-driven cams. It sounds almost as good as a thoroughbred Le Mans racer, the motor singing on the overrun, ready to snap back into the powerband at the lightest tap on the throttle.
The sheer athleticism engineered into the chassis also begins to shine through as I add more power. Suddenly, the super-quick steering and ultra-sensitive brakes make sense. Responses are both instant and measured, no time lost in wasteful slack, the F12 doing your bidding instantly. Ferrari says it had to “drag” the rest of the