Ferrari unveils the F12berlinetta

The new Ferrari F12berlinetta

Ferrari's 599 replacement is unmasked.

The wait is over. Ferrari have finally officially unveiled their replacement for the 599. Thanks to a leaked photo of a wooden styling buck and a lot of information being revealed after private previews, much was already known about the specification, but up to now the name has been kept secret.

Internet speculation had the name as being the F620 GT, but officially the car is known as the F12berlinetta, and no I have not accidentally left a space out! After the FF this signifies a new form of designation from Ferrari that no longer references the size of the engine, and perhaps paves the way for future generations of Ferraris to use smaller engines?

Mechanically the specification is more or less as has been already leaked; the 6,260cc V12 produces 730bhp (740CV) at 8500 rpm and 509 lb ft of torque at 6000rpm. 80% of that torque is available from 2500 rpm. Weight is 1525kg (dry) which equates to it being some 70kg lighter than the outgoing 599. Despite being lighter Ferrari claim the structure is 20% stiffer too.  Part of this weight saving is due to the car being slightly smaller overall than the car that it replaces.

Performance is huge, as you would expect: 0-60 arrives in 3.1 seconds, 124 arrives in 8.5 seconds and top speed is claimed to be 211mph. Perhaps the most impressive stat considering all the power is that the engine only produces 350g/km of CO2. It's still a lot but considering the 575 produced over 500g/Km this reduction is impressive. Part of this comes from use of Ferrari's HELE system (basically a stop-start system).

Keeping all those rampant horses in check is the usual array of sophisticated electronics that have become a modern Ferrari staple. The car is suspended on the latest generation magneto-rheological dampers and employs an E-differential. Transmission is a seven speed dual clutch affair, feeding power to the rear wheels via a transaxle.

Styling was a collaboration between Ferrari's in-house team and Pininfarina. The resulting shape employs complex aerodynamics to channel air through and around the body, and has a low coefficient of drag at 0.299. At the front there are active vents that allow the brakes to be cooled while reducing drag at speed. The most controversial aspect is likely to be the rear of the car where the diffuser has been integrated into the bodywork. Centrally mounted is the high intensity fog lamp which is clearly intended to reference the rain light on the rear of F1 cars.

Pricing has yet to be revealed but expect it to cost around £250,000 when it goes on sale in the UK at the tail end of 2012. The car will be officially unveiled at the Geneva motorshow.

Initial opinion

As I'm something of a front-engined Ferrari V12 Berlinetta fanboy, you would probably expect me to be in love with this car even before it was revealed. Well, I am, but not unreservedly. Styling-wise I think it's a 95% success with excellent proportions and a great stance.  It looks thoroughly modern but has a nice nod to the sixties Ferrari 275 in the rear panel around the lights. The overall profile reminds me of the 550 Maranello, one of my favourite V12 Ferraris.  I do find the front a little fussy, and I suspect this car will look best in dark metallic colours. I'm also very pleased that Ferrari has made the F12berlinetta (expect it to be referred to just as the F12) more compact than the rather sizeable 599.

My biggest reservation comes from the fireworks under the bonnet. The numbers are huge and I suspect the car will have to rely heavily on its electronics, especially in the hands of an average driver. I'm sure it will be a great drivers car at high speed, but will it be so great on public roads at legal speeds? I'm not so sure. The 599 was barely ticking over and not very exciting at the UK legal limit and the F12 will likely be much the same.  When you consider you can now buy a Ford Mustang straight from a US Ford dealer with 650bhp, I can completely understand the marketing reasons for having a 700+ bhp engine, but for me at the moment this is a demerit. My own Daytona has less than half the horsepower of this new car but I've never exactly thought it was slow.

Am I right about this? We'll have to wait for the road tests in a few months to find out.

All photographs by Ferrari Spa.