Ferrari 812 GTS review: super fast, super sunny
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Ferrari 812 GTS
- Insanely quick
- It's a drop-top V12 Ferrari
- It's a Ferrari!
- We can’t afford one
- Never enough time with it
- We still can’t afford one
A V12 and a Ferrari are a match made in horsepower heaven, and throw in a modern folding hardtop roof, and there’s potentially the best of all worlds. The 812GTS recently landed in NZ, as the open-top version of the comically titled 812 Superfast, and though only slightly less super fast, the GTS is certainly special in all the right ways.
Patience. It just requires a moment of patience, as we round the final turn of Hampton Downs onto the main straight.
The foot wants to just bury the throttle, but the brain decides that other overriding factors – the desire not to crash, run off the track and to maximise speed – means it needs just a second or two of patience before the hammer drops and every prancing horse is unleashed.
The V12 changes note and as the throttle widens from part to fully open, the wonderful howl of a Ferrari V12 engine envelopes the cabin. Concentration grabs another gear as focus shifts 200m up the road to the blind crest and apex point as the tacho flicks around the central tacho, the dual-clutch gearbox slickly and swiftly sliding through the gears rapidly allow another chapter of that glorious mix of induction and exhaust yowl.
It’s flat, of course, so as the blue Ferrari exits the corner in third gear, I think, the revs sweep around so fast there’s no need to keep track – but as the speed sweeps past 200km/h as we climb the straight, the 7000 mark is matched by a noticeable boost in speed – at a point where most sports cars are exhausted, the Ferrari 812 GTS is just getting angrier, and that insane burst of extra speed in the last 1900rpm before it shifts at an insane 8900rpm is like engaging 23rd gear with a 200hp shot of NOS in almost any Fast & Furious movie.
You had me at 7000rpm, at 8900rpm, we’re in a speed zone warping time and speed to insane levels very few cars can equal. And the speed? We’ll get to that shortly.
It all started from an email we all covet, not just in the DRIVEN office, but magazines and media outlets around the world: “Ferrari would like to invite you to…”
It’s certainly a big perk of the job but over the last year or so, it’s often been completed with the words: “our virtual unveiling”. Hearts sink, shoulders lump, eyes glaze over, and it’s back to work.
Not this time, however, as Ferrari Australasia recently landed, launched and unveiled the brand new Ferrari 812 GTS to the NZ media, the more sedate name for the Spider version of the comically title 812 Superfast coupe. The new folding hardtop blue demonstrator arrived with Aussie numberplates to Hampton Downs racetrack, and the freedom to go for it! We’d almost forgotten about days like these.
So more a speed date than time to sit down and talk; though Continental Car’s Dealer Principal Tony Elsmore did sit down with us for a quick overview of the car. “The cycle [of model launches] is always the hardtop, then the Spider,” he previews. Appreciably, there isn’t a lot of ‘theory’ to go through: zero to 100km/h in just 2.9 seconds, and to 200km/h in 8.3 seconds! Top speed of 340km/h may be largely academic, but it counts a little today.
The 812 GTS may not have a melodic name, but it is the first front-engined V12 convertible since the 1969 Ferrari Daytona, the same shape as the black one in Miami Vice.
Other pub trivia facts: the roof takes 14 seconds to raise/lower, and can be operated up to 45km/h. The vertical rear window can lower to offer a little more sound or fresh air, and it rides on 20-inch wheels and tyres, as wide as 315mm on the rear.
And for those who love a good acronym, prepare yourself, because the 812 GTS has electronic trickery including. PS, PCV 2.0, E-Diff3, F1-Trac, performance ABS/EBD with Ferrari Pre-Fill, FrS SCM-E, SSC 5.0. Got all that? Good, moving on.
It’s warmed up and waiting for us in pitlane, on a track, which is never the greatest place to objectively form an opinion of any road car, but it’s a time to readjust reality for a short time and just have some fun.
The V12 fires into life with a momentary tap of the red starter button on the wheel. And we’re told the Manettino – the dial on the wheel that changes from snow mode to full on free-for-all track mode – should stay on Sport, which allows for some freedoms, and provides a safety net. No need for lap times or heroics today, so it stays on Sport mode as the green light signals a free track, and we’re off, powering down the straights. After a few corners to get everything warm, a shove of the brakes into the hairpin unveils some immense braking capacity. Exiting the same hairpin, it’s enticing to squeeze on the throttle and the rear end doesn’t so much as squirm, but settle on its outside rear as the V12 starts channeling everything it has to the ground, with just a hint of electronic savery.
And then it’s onto the straight, taps full open. The speedo ticking over like a blur, barely slowing as it passes, 230, 240, 250km/h… at the recent NZ GP, the TRS wings and open wheel racecars on slicks were seeing a peak speed of 250km/h down the main straight. And the Ferrari topped out at a speed-indicated 265km/h!
In anyone’s language, road or race car, that is fantastically quick, so despite the folding roof, the 812 GTS can still claim to be "super fast", even if the badge belongs to the 812 coupe.
After a handful of laps, it’s all over too quickly, and with a lap to properly cool the brakes and oils, there’s time to absorb the final few moments in this three-quarter of a million dollar Ferrari.
Cherished, but equally punished – with respect – the Ferrari 812 GTS is an immense car and experience, and for those who are lucky enough to afford and obtain one, we salute you. Hash-tag jealous.
FERRARI 812 GTS
ENGINE: 6.5L V12
POWER: 588kW, 718Nm
GEARBOX: Seven-speed DCT, RWD
0-100km/h: 2.9 secs
0-200km/h: 8.3 secs
TOP SPEED: 340km/h