The Ferrari 812 Superfast Is The Fountain Of Youth On Four Wheels
Sept. 17, 2019
It’s not the most creative car model name. Ferrari went quite literal with the 812 Superfast . Indeed, this is an 800-horsepower V12 coupe that goes super (freaking) fast. Of course, lots of cars go super fast. But very few are so fast they make you feel 20 years younger.
I’m driving north on California’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Los Angeles on a typical sunny-and-70 day. It’s mid-week and mid-afternoon. The Malibu traffic is light. I glance over to the guy next to me at a stoplight. He’s driving a mid-sized, European sedan. He appears to be in his mid-40s, about my same age. When the light turns green, though, and the throttle hits the floor, I immediately feel several decades younger than that guy.
Burying the throttle on the 812 Superfast from a standstill summons a recklessness I haven’t felt since the ‘90s. It’s youthfully irresponsible. It’s as if I didn’t have a wife, kids, and mortgage. Despite the traction control, the tires light up and the rear end fishtails ever so slightly. The tachometer lights across the top of the steering wheel hit the red line — 8,900 rpms! — as I paddle-shift into second gear. It feels like I’m watching Leclerc’s F1 POV camera. By third gear I’m well past 100 mph as a rush of adrenaline floods into my legs and I let off the gas.
If it’s true what they say—that you’re as young as you feel—then the Ferrari 812 Superfast is the ticket back to your 20s. A ticket, mind you, that starts at $385,000.
Debuting in 2017, the Superfast was heralded as the fastest and most powerful production Ferrari ever. With a top speed of 211 mph and a 0-60 mph time that’s well under three seconds, it certainly lives up to its name. Though the 6.5-liter engine is technically located in the front, it is actually a front mid-engine design with mounting behind the front axle. This enables the weight to actually lean toward the rear — distributed 47%/53% front to rear — making it handle more like a mid-engine design. As I was taking delivery of the Superfast for my test drive, Ferrari was announcing its Spyder counterpart. The 812 GTS is Ferrari’s first front-engine V12 production drop top in 50 years.
The road test of the Superfast takes me into the Malibu hills, where the Woolsey Fire ravaged countless acres just about a year ago. Many of the roads were subsequently closed to repair power lines and shore up areas prone to erosion. One of the most famous routes, Mulholland Highway, is still technically closed to through traffic. But, again, when you’re feeling twenty-something again, you take risks that a forty-something might find prohibitive.
Starting from the top at the intersection of Decker Road , I wind down to the terminus at PCH to assess the viability. There are several stop signs with single-lane sections — areas where the adjacent hillside is unstable — but there is also a lot of new (grippy) asphalt. Having not seen a single car on my way down, I make a U-turn at PCH and treat the seven-mile Mulholland climb like a closed track.
Two qualities of the Superfast are immediately noticeable on this tight, twisty and undulating road: its tremendous torque and the front mid-engine design.
The naturally aspirated V12 produces 530 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm, and there is plenty available at 2,000 to 3,000 rpm. The pureness of the power in the absence of turbocharging is inspiring. After shifting down to second for a few turns, I realize the Superfast will accelerate out of turns just as well in third gear at lower revs because there is so much torque and power available. You don’t have to keep it wound out to get good exit speeds.
Despite being on the heavy side for a two-seater (3,593 pounds), the engine placement and balance enable it to pivot through turns like a much lighter car. The center of gravity feels like it’s right under the pedals, with the car rotating around your feet. It’s about as forgiving and predictable as an 800-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive sports car can be. In other words, keeping the traction control engaged is a prudent decision.
The final test is that of practicality. Can the 812 Superfast fit a bike in the boot? If that bike is a Specialized S-Works Venge Disc , then yes. You just have to take the wheels off. Plus, you’ll want to have wheel bags to buffer both the frame and vehicle interior from road grime.
For my final evaluation, I drive the Superfast out to Trancas in Malibu with my bike. I’m going to ride up Mulholland Highway, having already driven it to be sure it was “open.” As I’m unloading and assembling the bike, an Escalade pulls up behind me as it’s leaving the Starbucks. Two dogs are barking in the back seat, and driver yells out to me.
“Is that your truck?”
As I turn to answer, I see that said driver is actually Caitlyn Jenner.
“I’m not sure Ferrari had that in mind when they designed it,” she jokes, and then drives off.
It’s a classic LA moment and precisely the type of attention one should expect when pulling a $12,500 Specialized road bike out of a $358,000 Ferrari sports car in a Malibu parking lot.