The Car Connection Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Overview
The exotic Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is a design-focused, super-performance 2+2 sports car. It was the Italian brand's fastest and most powerful production car before the LaFerrari was introduced.
The Berlinetta's rear-wheel drive, front-engine layout ties it to Ferrari's classics, but the technology found within is decidedly modern. It combines some of Ferrari's best design and performance in a stunning grand touring body.
MORE: Read our 2016 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta preview
Ferrari's F12 Berlinetta's design is both typically Ferrari and completely modern, almost avant-garde. The dramatic, sculpted bodywork along the car's flanks has been controversial, drawing both praise and criticism, but above all, a great deal of attention. The overall proportions are classic front-engine Ferrari, with a low-slung stance, long hood, a set back passenger compartment, and sleek, organic curves flowing over the wheels.
Under the long, low hood is a similarly long 65-degree V-12 engine that displaces 6.3 liters. Power output is a staggering 730 horsepower at 8,500 rpm, with torque maxing out at 509 pound-feet at a lofty 6,000 rpm, though Ferrari says at least 80 percent of peak torque is available as low as 2,500 rpm. Until the LaFerrari showed up, the F12 Berlinetta's V-12 was the most potent Ferrari road-car engine yet produced. All of that power delivers 0-to-60-mph times of 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 210 mph, which aren't too far behind the new range-topping LaFerrari and are better than the figures of many other supercars.
While speed is easy to achieve in this car, the F12 is also comfortable at a more relaxed pace, as is true of other current Ferraris. The paddle-shift 7-speed dual-clutch transmission can be dialed from comfortable, almost imperceptible shifts to extremely quick and even borderline violent gear changes when in a sporting mode. Even with the high-tech adjustable transmission and available engine stop-start, the F12 manages to consume plenty of fuel no matter how it's driven, with a combined rating of 13 mpg, according to the EPA.
As successor to the 599, the F12 Berlinetta is similarly a V-12-powered 2+2 grand touring super sports car, but it differs rather significantly in several respects. A shorter wheelbase, narrower overall width, and lower ride height make it almost universally smaller. Weight distribution is shifted rearward, with 54 percent of the mass riding on the rear axle. The F12 Berlinetta is also lighter than the 599, incorporating a total of 12 different aluminum alloys that help it tip the scales at just 3,362 pounds, while also increasing torsional rigidity compared to the 599 by 20 percent.
The F12 has plenty of new and racing-derived technology to keep all of that power in check and aid handling. The brakes use carbon-ceramic discs, the dampers are adaptive magnetorheological units, and Ferrari's latest electronic helpers are along for the ride: the E-diff differential, F1-Trac traction control, advanced stability control, and performance-focused ABS. The settings for these systems are controlled, like they are on other Ferrari road and race cars, by the "manettino" switch mounted on the steering wheel.
The F12 Berlinetta can be outfitted in an immense array of exterior colors, interior colors and materials, and other buyer-selected appearance and performance options. Ferrari's variety of personalization services, including the Tailor Made program, can realize nearly any desired modification. The cost of these services can be high, but then, that's not a problem for most F12 Berlinetta owners. In fact, the first F12 Berlinetta delivered to U.S. soil sold at auction for a price of $1.125 million—for the benefit of Hurricane Sandy victims. The company recently unveiled another special edition F12, this one a tribute to the 1964 Tour de France Automobile-winning 250 GTO, complete with silver paint and cross-bonnet yellow stripe.
To celebrate the brand's 60th anniversary in the U.S., Ferrari created the F12-based F60 America. It's an open-top car, and only 10 will be built for a reported price of $3.2 million. The U.S. remains Ferrari's largest market, and it's likely that all 10 of the cars were spoken for before it was even unveiled at the celebration in Beverly Hills. Ferrari is not expected to build a normal-production convertible version of the F12.
An update to the F12, or a successor with a different name, is likely to use a hybridized V-12 engine. Ferrari has said that future models will all need some sort of fuel-economy-enhancing powertrain, with the new V-8s now getting turbochargers and the twelve-cylinder powertrain in the LaFerrari hypercar benefiting from a new hybrid system. A version of the LaFerrari's engine, as well as other items pioneered on that car, is likely to make its way into the next big V-12 Ferrari coupe.