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Ferrari 812 Superfast review – big but brilliant, with an astonishing engine and gearbox

James Disdale
9 Jul 2018
Verdict:

The pinnacle of front-engined Ferrari engineering, the 812 melds mind-warping performance with a chassis that draws you into the action

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£253,004
For 
Astonishing engine and performance, approachable handling, incredible noise
Against 
It’s not as refined as you’d expect, size on UK roads, lack of steering feel
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Ride and handling

All Ferraris feature steering that’s unusually light and unusually fast in its response, but in the 812 it’s perhaps a touch heavier than before, which is good, but is also even faster in its responses, which to begin with at least, is not so good. The same is true of the glassy feel off the straight-ahead, which keeps your fingertips just one step removed from the action.

That said, you do eventually get used to the way the 812 hyper-reacts to your inputs at the wheel, and after a while it does then get close to becoming intuitive, at which point you start to guide the car more with your brain than with your hands, which is of course Ferrari’s intention. So strong is the front end grip and so good the feel through the seat of your pants, that you learn to trust that the steering will point the car just where you want, meaning you don’t miss the feedback through the rim as much as you’d think.

> Lamborghini Aventador S review

In all other respects, however, it is a quite incredible car to drive. The new seats are hard but clamp you in place behind the new multi-adjustable digital dashboard to perfection. And from that moment onwards the 812 over-delivers on your expectations in just about every department.

On the track it feels lighter and more agile – and just faster – than you would ever believe possible from a 1630kg front-engined car. And to be honest, the best way to get the most enjoyment out of it is to wind the mannetino all the way to the right and turn everything off, because only then can you revel in the pure balance the 812 displays on the throttle. It goes sideways everywhere, sometimes even in fourth and fifth gear, but at the same time it’s still extraordinarily friendly while doing so. With everything off you can basically drive it like a BMW M3. Which is genuinely extraordinary given that there’s the thick end of 800bhp beneath your right foot.

It’s faster and arguably more “impressive” with the systems switched back in, but if anything the electronics are a bit too keen to take the throttle away from you on the track, even if they do allow a fair bit of slip before the safety net is deployed. And on the road they are very much there to help you keep your quarter million pound 812 Superfast out of the undergrowth, and they do so very well indeed.

> Ferrari F12 review

On the road, in fact, you never really notice that they are there at all. And on the road, of course, the 812 feels approximately twice as fast as it does on the track – to a point where I can’t really imagine anything else, at any price, with any engine configuration, feeling any faster – or better to drive – than the 812 Superfast. Yet knock the dampers into their Bumpy Road setting and leave the gearbox to its own devices and you’ll find the Ferrari is remarkably docile and comfortable. At a cruise only the constant growl from the exhausts upsets the calm of the cabin.

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