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2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Overview
As the 2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta 2-door sport coupe rolls into its second year of production, it remains the most powerful road car bearing the Prancing Horse badge, thanks to its stunningly powerful 6.2-liter V12 engine, which delivers 740 hp. Replacing the 5-year-old 599 GTB Fiorano in 2013, the F12 Berlinetta draws on a long history of previous Berlinettas dating back to the 1950s, which helped build Ferrari's reputation as a designer of world-class exotic street racers. However, the new F12 features an all-new design and all-new sheet metal. Naturally, it rides on a rear-wheel-drive platform, a must for any true performance-oriented sports car, and seats 2 passengers in a comfortable cabin. And yes, it looks fantastic in Ferrari Red, emblazoned with the yellow-and-black Prancing Horse badge.
We'll get to that beefy V12 engine under the hood in a moment, but the F12 Berlinetta first draws the eye with its swooping exterior lines, aggressive front end design and sporty stance. Created by Pininfarina with an eye toward a high level of aerodynamic efficiency, the exterior design provides impressive downforce on the front end, minimal drag along its entire form and reduced fuel consumption, when compared to earlier vehicles. In addition, the sculpted hood and sides, as well as the low cabin roofline and pronounced hip over the rear wheel wells, help optimize airflow around the vehicle.
The simply designed grille, as well as deep curved troughs in the hood, channel cooling air into the engine bay, and side vents similarly direct air to cool the brakes. The unique styling of the tail, which features a T-shaped Kammback design, also channels airflow around the vehicle and reduces drag. Two circular LED taillights, an F1-inspired rear foglight and quad exhaust pipes are among the other exterior design features. A rear tailgate provides access to the cargo area behind the seats.
The F12's completely new body frame and chassis are made from 12 different aluminum alloys, which help reduce weight and improve rigidity. In addition, the F12 Berlinetta sits on a shorter wheelbase than the automaker's previous V12 coupe (107.1 inches vs. 108.3 for the Fiorano). It's also narrower than the Fiorano, with a longer front end and a shorter rear overhang. Overall, the F12 weighs about 154 pounds less than its predecessor. In addition, Ferrari positioned the engine, dashboard and seats lower in the chassis, which lowers the center of gravity by almost an inch (25mm) and improves handling characteristics. The automaker redesigned the suspension and transmission, to make them more compact, and redistributed the weight, which favors the rear by a 54-to-46 ratio, an increase of 1 percent rearward bias over the previous V12 coupe.
The 6.2-liter V12 engine sits further back in the chassis and 1.18 inches lower, and also was redesigned to create a lower center of gravity. The V12 generates 740 hp and 509 lb-ft of torque, available from 2,500 rpm all the way up to the redline at 8,700 rpm. It drives the rear wheels through a dual-clutch F1 transmission with close gear ratios, designed for quick acceleration. Ferrari puts the F12's 0-62 mph time at just 3.1 seconds, compared to 3.7 seconds for the Fiorano, and its time to 124 mph at 8.5 seconds. The transmission integrates with a third-generation electronic differential, or E-Diff 3, which sends power to the individual wheels as required to ensure optimal performance. The engine also includes a start/stop function, which shuts it off when idling to conserve fuel and reduce CO2 emissions. Ferrari says the F12 gets up to 18 mpg.
The F12 sits on a cutting-edge chassis with a transaxle architecture, which not only reduces overall weight but also increases passenger and cargo space, thanks to its compact design. The suspension features double wishbones in the front and a multilink configuration in the rear. In addition, Ferrari equips the F12 with the latest version of its magneto-rheological suspension system, which features electronically controlled magnetic-field dampers at all 4 wheels. The dampers adjust every millisecond to road conditions and driver inputs to provide responsive handling, as well as ride comfort and stability. The latest Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, which are lighter and more durable than previous versions, also come standard. Active shutters on the brake cooling ducts help reduce drag. Ferrari also reduced the size of the gas tank, thanks to the vehicle's reduced weight and more fuel-efficient powerplant.
Inside, Ferrari placed an emphasis on sporty styling as well as comfort and reduced excess bulk to ensure optimal interior space and efficiency. The deep well-bolstered bucket seats hug the driver and passenger, and the ergonomic layout of the dash places all controls within easy reach of the driver. With the exception of paddle shifters, Ferrari does away with stalks on the flat-bottomed sport steering column, clustering all controls, including an engine start button, on the steering wheel itself in a nod to F1 design. High-grip surfaces on the steering wheel and buttons help drivers keep control of the vehicle at higher speeds.
The functional yet sporty dash features a central dominating Ferrari-yellow instrument gauge as well as ancillary gauges. A series of large round air-conditioning vents dominate the dash. Featuring an aeronautically inspired design, the vents are made from carbon fiber and aluminum, which extend to trimwork throughout the cabin. A central 6.5-inch touchscreen displays vehicle information and details about the entertainment systems, which include an audio system with Bluetooth. Drivers can also use the touchscreen to manage the voice-activated satellite navigation system.
Naturally, leather upholstery comes standard in the F12, along with such features as dual-zone climate control and remote keyless entry. The rear cargo area provides 11.3 cubic feet of storage space, which expands to 17.6 cubic feet with the rear bench panel folded down. Safety features include electronic stability control (ESC) and a Dynamic Vehicle Control system with an ESC-Off setting, so drivers can unleash the F12 to its fullest potential.
Ferrari offers a variety of customization options for the F12 Berlinetta, including a choice of 16 standard exterior colors and 10 historic colors, as well as optional sill covers and side mirrors, colored brake calipers and 3 wheel designs. Inside, 2-tone leather upholstery, technical fabrics and Alcantara trim and inserts are among the options, as well as a choice of 3 seats, including new Leaf seats with a leaf stitch pattern. Ferrari also offers a variety of upgrade packages, such as the Race and Track Package, which includes carbon-fiber shell seats, a carbon-fiber steering wheel, forged wheel rims and a carbon-fiber spoiler, and the Equipment and Travel Package, which adds front and rear parking cameras, adaptive headlights and a 12-speaker 1,280-watt JBL Professional audio system.
Competitors include the 700-hp Lamborghini Aventador, which gives the F12 Berlinetta a run for its money, making the 0-60 sprint in just 2.9 seconds.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.