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Geneva show: Ferrari’s F12 Berlinetta laid bare

Ferrari 599 successor emerges as Prancing Horse’s fastest, most powerful road car

Ferrari logo1 Mar 2012

FERRARI’S fastest and most powerful road car ever – the F12 Berlinetta – has been revealed in all its glory ahead of its global premiere at the Geneva motor show next week and an Australian arrival early in 2013.

Emerging after years of speculation, months of spy photos and videos and, since last month, an official teaser campaign, the Prancing Horse’s 599 successor is said to usher in a new era of Ferrari 12-cylinder engine performance – in this case with a mid-front-mounted 730hp (544kW) 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 that develops its peak power at 8500rpm and can reach 100km/h from rest in just 3.1 seconds.

The Italian supercar marque also claims the F12 Berlinetta requires just 8.5 seconds to crack 200km/h, on its way to a maximum speed of “more than 340km/h”.

It also completes a lap of Ferrari’s Fiorano test circuit in 1min23sec – faster than any other Ferrari road car before it, including the previous benchmark-setting 599 GTO which took a second longer to complete the lap.

While the engine is based on the same 6262cc direct-injection 65-degree V12 found in the four-seater FF, the F12 Berlinetta – which prior to its unveiling was expected to carry the ‘620’ moniker – outguns both the FF and the previous 599 in more than mere horsepower, with maximum torque of 690Nm at 6000rpm, 80 per cent of which is available from 2500rpm and which provides “an unrelenting surge of acceleration” all the way to its 8700rpm redline.

34 center imageIn comparison, the FF develops 485kW/683Nm and the 599’s 6.0-litre V12 produced 456kW/607kW, with the GTO version upping the ante to 500kW/620Nm.

Furthermore, the F12-rivalling $754,600 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 uses a 515kW/690Nm 6.2-litre 60-degree V12 that drives all four wheels through a seven-speed ISR (independent shifting rods) single-clutch automated gearbox and can hit 100km/h in an even quicker 2.9 seconds.

Ferrari can, however, claim a minor victory over Lamborghini on environmental grounds.

Turning up with rear-wheel drive and a closer-ratio version of the F1-style seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the F12 super-coupe boasts a 30 per cent reduction in fuel consumption compared with the 599, down to 15L/100km when fitted with “lightweight options” and the factory-fit HELE (High Emotion, Low Emissions) pack that combines an idle-stop system with ‘intelligent’ controls for the engine fans, fuel pump and air-conditioning compressor.

CO2 emissions are likewise down, now at 350g/km, which Ferrari claims puts the vehicle “at the top of the high-performance league”. The Aventador, meanwhile, manages 17.2L/100km and 398g/km.

Ferrari says its efficiency improvements boil down to “engine, aerodynamics, tyres and weights”.

The F12’s dry weight has come in at 1525kg – down 70kg compared to the 599 – and its drag coefficient drops to 0.299Cd, with the evocative aero design resulting from collaboration between the Ferrari Styling Centre and Pininfarina.

Downforce has also been boosted by 76 per cent, now at 123kg at 200km/h.

These results stem from two new solutions that were honed in the 599XX ‘research and development’ car. The first is an ‘Aero Bridge’ which uses the bonnet to generate downforce by channelling air away from the upper part of the car to its flanks “where it interacts with the wake from the wheel wells to decrease drag”.

The second is ‘Active Brake Cooling’, which is a system that opens guide vanes to the brake cooling ducts only at high operating temperatures, again reducing drag.

Overall dimensions place the F12 shorter (at 4618mm long), narrower (and 1942mm wide) and lower (at 1273mm high) than its predecessor. A wheelbase length is still to be specified, although Ferrari has confirmed it is shorter than the 599’s 2750mm.

This combines with lower mounting of the engine, dash and seats in the chassis, together with a new layout for the rear suspension and gearbox, which essentially reduces the volume at the rear and achieves a more compact car overall with a lower centre of gravity that is further back in the chassis.

The weight distribution is now 46:54 front/rear, compared to 47:53 in the 599.

Ferrari says the F12 is built with an all-new spaceframe chassis and bodyshell that has 12 different kinds of alloys as well as new assembly and joining techniques. The result is a claimed 20 per cent increase in structural rigidity.

The F12 uses Ferrari’s latest generation carbon-ceramic brakes (CCM3) and an evolution of the magnetorheological suspension control system (SCM-E). It also has the full complement of electronic control systems such as E-Diff, ESP Premium, F1-Trac and high-performance ABS.

Cabin highlights include full ‘Frau’ leather trim, new carbon-fibre and aluminium detailing and the adoption of Ferrari’s ‘Human Machine Interface’ driver control layout, while more luggage space has been built in behind the seats.

The order books open in Geneva next week, with first European deliveries commencing in the third quarter. Right-hand drive production kicks off later in the year, with Australia and New Zealand receiving their first examples in the first quarter of 2013.

Local pricing and specifications will be announced closer to its arrival.

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