Car Replacement: Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

After the test drive of the Mercedes AMG GT R I decided that it would be great to go and look at some Ferrari’s and to see if they had a car that would fulfil my requirements. After looking at the potential suitable models the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta jumped out as a contender, due to the fact that it was similar in concept to my AMG GTS with an engine up front, two seats and a relatively large boot. I have also always loved the looks of the F12. I visited my local dealer, Graypaul Ferrari Birmingham and a test drive was arranged. On this occasion the dealer came with me but we were able to drive along some twisty roads as well as some motorway driving.

When the F12 Berlinetta was first launched in 2012 it was billed as the fastest road-going Ferrari ever made in terms of acceleration, circuit handling or indeed anywhere else. It has a naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12 engine in the front producing over 730bhp and 509lb ft of torque. This was going to be an exciting car to test drive.

The F12 Berlinetta looked to be an instant classic from launch thanks to its blend of sharp edges and sensual flowing lines. The interior is swathed in leather and Alcantara, and trimmed in modern aluminium and carbon-fibre. However, the layout, does not have a large central display and does with two smallish screens on either side of the rev counter. I found it difficult to navigate around the menus and to also use the navigation system. This made the infotainment system rather dated.

The first thing I noticed when I started to drive the F12 is how light and quick the steering is giving the impression of great agility in a heavy car. Treat the throttle with great respect as I found that pressing it too hard the car would break traction. I also noticed some pitch and roll in the chassis, which makes it feel like a road car although the damping is exceptional and can be leant on reassuringly. As my confidence built I was able to get on the power earlier exiting the corners on the twisty B roads. As you pull the gear-shit paddle into the next gear there is a brutal gearbox bang that brought a smile to my face that I don’t think would ever wear off.

The drivetrain is the best I’ve driven with the amazing V12 and near perfect twin-clutch gearbox and the chassis was capable and exciting. It all takes some getting used to and never felt totally natural, especially in high speed corners. However, hiding beneath the sometimes too-aggressive response was superb balance and a good degree of suppleness, too. I can’t think of a more agile front-engine, rear-drive car with such big firepower. What I found really impressive was that the very pointy front doesn’t upset the rear, at least at the speeds I was achieving.

In an F12 you will never yearn for more power, nor a faster, better gearshift it is so fast and brutal in response to the smallest input that you are constantly busy, and it is definitely more supercar than GT.

After an exhilarating yet too short test drive, my final test was to see if the boot could fit my golf clubs. They fit in the boot easily and there was plenty of space for a second set and some luggage too. The separator dividing the rear and front luggage area could be removed too, creating a very large single luggage compartment.

On a whole the F12 is a formidable car, it is on the verge of being too much. Whilst I loved the looks and the drivability some of the interior components look rather dated and this is a car at the end of its lifecycle. The search for my Mercedes AMG GTS Edition 1 replacement will continue.

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