Ferrari unveiled the speediest production car in its history, underscoring its reputation for uncompromising performance even as the Italian manufacturer pushes the limit of how many cars it can sell without losing its allure.
The 812 Superfast debuted at the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday with a front-mid-mounted 6496cc V12, 588kW engine that accelerates to 100km/h in as little as 2.9 seconds, making it Ferrari’s most powerful production model ever. Priced at $308 000 (R4 million) in Italy, the new flagship is already sold out for 2017, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
“We have to make sure the demand is there, and we always have to supply less than the demand,” he said.
Having promised its shareholders a boost in sales and profit following its 2015 initial public offering, Ferrari faces the challenge of selling more cars without diluting its air of exclusivity. Marchionne, likely to reach his target of selling 9 000 cars annually by 2019, is pushing high-performers like the 812 Superfast to maintain earnings momentum, even as he widens the lineup.
Keeping supply capped by model is the key to protecting Ferrari’s reputation. "We need a much wider range of products than we’ve got today,” in order to increase volumes beyond 9 000 vehicles, the CEO said.
The 812 Superfast's 789bhp is shocking, but only for now
Ah, welcome, 812 Superfast.
You’ll be the new Ferrari, won’t you? Your CV suggests you’re super, and I have no doubt believing you’re almost certainly fast. Sit down, make yourself comfortable, and answer me this: how much, exactly, is too much? Power, I mean. I always thought your predecessor, the F12, had a more than ample 730bhp. Then the F12 tdf turned up with 770bhp. And now you sit here, placing 789bhp on the table, while reassuring me that this unending power growth is absolutely fine. So, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Honestly, dear reader, where does it all stop? Sometimes in the media we confidently predict that a certain power output will be the end of things. The pinnacle. The ultimate. The McLaren F1. The Bugatti Veyron. And then what happens?
An everyday McLaren rocks up with more power than an F1, and there’s about to be a new Bugatti with 1492bhp – almost 50% more than the first Veyron. It’s time to admit that we were wrong and that there won’t be an end to it. Don’t get too used to the 812’s 789bhp. Not because it represents an apogee from which we’ll sensibly return, but because 800bhp is right around the corner.
It turns out that cars, you see, just mirror life, where unending growth, power and complexity are the overriding trends. With due apologies to any creationists, once we were amoeba, yet now many of us stand over six feet tall. The first computers used to crack wartime codes were the size of rooms, but add all the computing power of every wartime computer together and you’d barely have enough oomph to play a video of a cat falling off a shelf.
Power growth is all around us, and it has been since the dawn of times. How many calories do you – dear reader, not Ferrari – consume a day? I wouldn’t like to guess (you’re looking well), but I’ll bet it will be more than the average of, say, 100 years ago. The thrust of an Airbus A380 knocks aside anything Louis Blériot would likely have imagined. More power. More force. More lifeis as inevitable as the arrival of the morning sun.
The average family car? Thirty years ago a middling Ford Escort would have had 74bhp from a 1.4-litre engine. Today you could comfortably double that. As recent as 1991, a luxury car like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a 5.0-litre engine made around 250bhp and 288lb ft. Today you can buy an S-Class with almost as much power as a McLaren F1 – enough to make a Vauxhall Lotus Carlton feel like a pram. The Carlton once offended the world; today nobody is outraged that a Tesla Model S can give you, silently, 603bhp and 713lb ft.
I once asked a Lamborghini engineer how much was too much. There is no figure, he said. Acceleration at low speed is already limited by traction; more power gives you better acceleration at high speed. And if that much speed all sounds a bit hairy? Well, there’s more computing power to deal with it and more efficiency and complexity to mean it doesn’t consume the planet at an any greater rate.
So, frankly, we had better get used to it. And look forward, I suppose, to the day when your average family hatchback will have 500bhp.
Company boss Sergio Marchionne has stated that Ferrari will always offer a V12 and it would be "nuts" to put a turbocharger on it; a hybrid system will be used in future models
Ferrari will always have a naturally aspirated V12 in its line-up, according to company boss, Sergio Marchionne.
His comments quell concerns that the V12 will be downsized and turbocharged, as with Ferrari’s V8s, or even axed entirely. ‘‘We will always offer a V12,” said Marchionne. “Our head of engine programmes told me it would be absolutely nuts to [put a] turbocharger on the V12, so the answer is no. It [will be] naturally aspirated, with a hybrid [system].”
The electrification is not all about lowering CO2, either, said Marchionne: “The objective of having hybrid and electrics in cars like this is not the traditional objective that most people would have. We’re not trying to make two targets. We’re really trying to improve the performance on the track.”
Ferrari technical chief Michael Leiters underlined the intent: “We don’t want to stop production and the small manufacturers’ agreement allows us to continue.”
The V12-powered 812 Superfast, revealed at the Geneva motor show last month, is “far under” the current EU6B emissions legislation that will apply for four years. The engine’s performance will be aided by “a 350-bar direct-injection system,” said Leiters.
He added: “The EU6C legislation will be a challenge, but we have a solution. After that comes the 2021 Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle legislation (ULEV), which will be met with the hybrid V12 powertrain.”