2016 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Preview

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

The 2016 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta balances power with style and refinement while the F12 tdf is more laser focused on track capability.

The 2016 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and F12 tdf carry on the brand’s tradition of offering fast, sexy, sleek front-engined cars. The proportions remain classical even though all of the details look to be drawn from the future—or the wind tunnel.

Outclassing all of the Ferrari range in terms of power, except for the LaFerrari hybrid supercar, the F12 tdf was added to the lineup this year as an homage to the Tour de France, a race Ferrari dominated in the 1950s and 1960s. It carries a hefty $490,000 price tag, while the F12 Berlinetta comes in at a still massive $330,000. For those mortgage-like prices, buyers get all the sights, sounds, and emotional driving experience expected of a Ferrari.

Under the hood lies a 6.3-liter V-12 engine that makes 729 horsepower and 508 pound-feet of torque in the Berlinetta. The redline is a wailing 8,700 rpm, and Ferrari says that 80 percent of the max torque is available from 2,500 rpm, helping this rear-drive supercar to accelerate to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds. The F12 Berlinetta’s top speed is claimed to be greater than 211 mph.

The F12 tdf is even more powerful thanks to revised intake plumbing, a larger throttle body, and solid lifters in place of hydraulic tappets. Total output increases to 769 hp and 519 lb-ft of torque, and the redline rises to 8,900 rpm. The extra power and shorter ratios for the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission lower the 0-to-60-mph time below three seconds, and raise the top speed to 215 mph. Ferrari says the ratios are six percent shorter, upshifts are 30 percent faster, and downshifts are 40 percent faster. The tdf also gets the Extreme Design one-piece brake calipers from the LaFerrari.

Developed as the ultimate performance version of the F12, the tdf also features wider front tires (275s instead of 255s) that provide more grip and therefore make the car more willing to oversteer. To combat that tendency, Ferrari outfits the F12 tdf with active rear steering that it brands as a Virtual Short Wheelbase system. Ferrari says this system doesn’t countersteer the rear axle to make the car turn in better at lower speeds—the wider tires provide all the turn-in response the car needs. Instead, the rears only steer in the same direction as the fronts at higher speeds to increase stability.

The long, low body of the F12 Berlinetta is covered in dramatic, swooping lines. The most characteristic element of the exterior is a line that rises over the front fender before diving sharply to rise again along the side as it reaches for the tail of the car. At the nose, an aggressive face presents the car’s intent, blending both aesthetics and aerodynamics.

The F12 tdf is even more exaggerated. The roof and A-pillars are the only panels that carry over from the Berlinetta. The front and rear track is wider, and the front end gets a new look with a deeply scooped lower fascia with dive planes, a splitter, wings and louvers inspired by race cars. The “aerobridge” behind each flared front fender is exposed carbon fiber, louvers are added to the rear fenders, and the rear spoiler is longer and taller. The rear diffuser also features a new design with three active flaps, and the underbody has three racing-inspired strakes that increase downforce by 30 percent compared to the F12 Berlinetta.

The F12 tdf cuts 243 pounds thanks in part to reducing the amount of glass and using more carbon fiber. The glass area of the rear quarter windows is smaller and the rear window is tapered. Carbon fiber is used for the inside and outside of the doors, as well as the front and rear fascias.

Inside the F12 Berlinetta, the cabin is, as you’d expect of Ferrari’s top GT, luxurious: leathers wrap most human interface elements, while high-tech F1-inspired switchgear adorns the controls. The steering wheel, in particular, reflects the F1 provenance of much of the F12 Berlinetta’s technology, with a “manettino” control layout of switches, knobs, and buttons.

The F12 tdf is more spartan. The glove box is replaced by simple padding, and the door panels are stripped to the carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is also used for the instrument panel pod, while leather trim gives way to Alcantara. The seats are technical fiber instead of leather, and the floors feature only patterned aluminum instead of carpeting. A radio and air conditioning are standard, though.

The F12 Belinetta has no shortage of features and equipment, especially with the aid of a customized design from Ferrari’s personalization service, dubbed Tailor Made. With Tailor Made, the sky is the limit—materials, colors, options, technology—nearly anything the buyer can think of can be done—for a price.

We haven’t yet had a chance to drive the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta or the F12 tdf, but we’ll update this space once we do.

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