800 horsepower. Eight hundred. Think about that for a second. Go on, I’ll pause here for a bit.

Done? Okay. 800 horsepower is a ludicrous amount of power for any car, let alone one that’s not labelled a ‘hypercar’. 800 horsepower is a lot for a car without any turbocharging, supercharging, or hybrid assistance. 800 horsepower is just a helluva lot of power.

That’s reason enough to celebrate the 812 Superfast, the latest in Ferrari’s long line of naturally aspirated V12s. Maranello has been doing n/a V12s for 70 years now so you could say they’ve mastered the art of 12 cylinder engines.

What an engine is is under the 812’s long bonnet. That insane power, roughly 588kW of it, is courtesy of a 6.5-litre V12 engine that revs to 8900rpm. Can you imagine what that would sound like? The 812’s V12 also boasts 123hp/litre figure, a feat Ferrari says hasn’t been achieved in a front-mid engine car before.

Torque is a healthy 718NM. Performance figures are just as impressive with 0-100 km/h done in 2.9 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 7.9 seconds, and 100-0 km/h in 32 metres. The 812 will max out at a respectable 340 km/h.

Not only is the 812 Superfast (a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet) the most powerful naturally aspirated car in Ferrari’s history, I think I’m right in saying it’s the most powerful naturally aspirated car in history. Think about it; the F12tdf (this car’s predecessor) has to make do with 770hp, the Lamborghini Aventador SV has 750hp, while the Aston Martin One-77 comes in at 740hp.

Controversially, the 812 is the first Ferrari to adopt an electric power steering system (EPS). Ferrari says the EPS aims to bring out the “maximum potential of the car”. It’ll be interesting to see how the 812’s EPS compares to the F12 and F12tdf’s “old school” hydraulic steering rack.

Most manufactures are switching to electronic steering systems for better ease of use and better economy, some with better results than others. Ferrari says the 812 was designed so customers could experience both road and track.

Speaking of, the 812 also comes with Ferrari’s ‘Virtual Short Wheelbase System 2.0’ (PCV) which utilises the electric steering assistance of the front wheels with rear-wheel steering, giving better agility and, as the name suggests, a virtually shorter wheelbase.

Now with 800 rampaging Italian horses going to the rear of this, er, Italian thoroughbred, you’d hope Ferrari would have some way to rein all of that in. The 812 features the fifth generation of ‘Side Slip Control’ (SSC) which increases agility and steering response. It also allows for better controlled smokey slidey stuff when the mood takes you. Then there are the brakes; carbon ceramics by Brembo and the same ones used on the LaFerrari. There’s some pub trivia for you.

As for the design, well it’s very clearly an evolution of the F12. I love a front-engine Ferrari, particularly the 275 GTB and the 550 Maranello. The F12 is also one of my favourites so I’ve been very keen to see the 812 up close and personal.

I wasn’t disappointed. The profile and rear-end are classically Ferrari. That long and imposing bonnet, the tapered bum, and the quad-taillights all work beautifully well together. The front was better than pictures suggest, certainly it’s a grower not a shower.

Unlike the F12, the 812 wasn’t penned by Pininfarina. Yes, it builds on the Pininfarina-designed F12 but all the work was done at Ferrari’s Styling Centre. As you’d expect, form and function follow closely together. Every crease and every vent is there to help with aero and downforce. Hell, there are even active flaps in the underbody. All-in-all, the 812 boasts a 10% increase in downforce compared to its predecessor.

Inside it was refreshingly simple. The whole cabin has been redesigned to be more sporty and advanced than ever. Gone is the central infotainment screen and in its place is a ‘sculptured’ centre air vent. The infotainment display has been moved up to the main instrument cluster and alongside the new designed steering wheel adds to the ‘man-machine’ interface.

Ferrari have also developed a new colour to go with the launch of the 812 Superfast called ‘Rosso Settantanni’, which commemorates their 70th Anniversary. 812 deliveries are expected to start later this year with prices for Japan-spec cars starting from ¥39,100,000 (NZ$499,000).

While they didn’t confirm that the 812 would be the last naturally aspirated V12 Ferrari, there were lots of mentions of the word ‘maybe’ throughout the room. They didn’t explicitly say ‘no’, suggesting a more powerful and more hardcore 812 could be in the works as the final swan song for the natural and unassisted Ferrari V12. Either way, the 812 is sure to be a car that’ll its mark in Ferrari’s history, present and future.

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