Ninety minutes with a Ferrari F12 isn’t very long, certainly not long enough.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hell of a lot better than no time with a Ferrari F12, but it’s really only enough to scratch the surface of Maranello’s grandest GT. Still when Ferrari offered us a quick blast at the recent Bathurst 12-Hour, we grabbed the keys faster than you could say “Ciao!”.
That said, with a 545kW/690Nm 6.3-litre V12 under the bonnet, in a fantasy land of open roads, no traffic and no speed limits – the Northern Territory, then – you could cover 525km in those 90 minutes at the F12’s 350km/h top whack. Okay, so you’d run out of fuel well before then, but you take the point.
Ferrari claims 0-100km/h takes just 3.1sec, but the numbers still fail to convey the sheer savagery of the F12’s acceleration. At around 1700kg with fuel and driver, this is not a particularly light car, but the ferocity of the engine makes a mockery of its weight, the urge explosive and unrelenting.
In first and second it’s borderline uncomfortable, the scenery moving as if you’ve pressed 1.5x on the DVD remote, and by the top of second gear you’re so far beyond the national speed limit any further exploration seems imprudent.
This performance is made accessible by Ferrari’s excellent dual-clutch ’box; the shifts are super quick and it even behaves well in traffic, an environment which remains the Achilles heel of most systems.
It also makes the F12 undemanding company on a day-to-day basis. Forgive the cliché, but your grandmother really could drive this car with no problems, though you might want to refrain from explaining to her what Race mode does.
The ride is absorbent, the engine is hushed and the driving position comfortable; having all the controls – indicators, lights, wipers etc. – on the steering wheel does take some getting used to, but isn’t too difficult to master.
Still, most F12 owners are going to already have a car or 10 to handle the daily commute, so while it’s perfectly habitable thanks to polished everyday manners, this is one Prancing Horse that is happiest galloping in the hills.Our test road on the outskirts of Bathurst isn’t ideal, being narrow, bumpy and quite often blind. The F12 feels agitated on this lumpy stretch of tarmac and a little highly strung, requiring constant small steering corrections to remain on course.
Like all modern Ferraris, the steering itself is light and very fast without a whole lot of feedback which, combined with its propensity to shift about slightly, can make it feel a little nervous.
The key here is to ignore these initial sensations and trust it. After all, the F12 wears massive rubber (255/35 fronts; 315/35 rears) so you’re unlikely to be anywhere near the limit of grip. Your inputs have to be quite small and precise, but even at what feels like six or seven-tenths a glance at the speedo reveals to be anything but.
With Race mode selected on the steering wheel manettino ESP intervention is rare bar tight corner exits and should you find a well-sighted corner and commit fully the speed at which the F12 fires through is literally breathtaking.
Which brings us to the biggest problem with owning an F12 in Australia – Australia itself. Or rather its speed limits. Trying to drive a 545kW V12 GT properly within the confines of a 110km/h speed limit is like trying to exercise a Bengal tiger in a chicken coop – it will hit almost 140km/h in second gear.
Thus while the F12 is a staggeringly capable performance car, it feels like it would work best flowing through long, sweeping corners at a speed that would swiftly have you on every front page in the land, so the exercise can be a little frustrating.
Then again, Ferrari does hold regular track days at Phillip Island, which would no doubt be an excellent way to express some of that frustration.
Engine: 6262cc V12, DOHC, 48v
Power: 545kW @ 8250rpm
Torque: 690Nm @ 6000rpm
0-100km/h: 3.1sec (claimed)