A new GT king is born
Maranello, Italy — It's the most powerful road car Ferrari has ever made. That in a nutshell is what makes the F12berlinetta special. Sure, being the fastest street-legal Ferrari around its famed Fiorano test circuit also impresses, suggesting it's not just a monster powerplant on wheels but an all-round athlete as well. And even if there are doubts surrounding its impossibly fast lap time by armchair pundits, after driving the F12 on the roads around Ferrari's Maranello headquarters, those otherworldly numbers seem entirely plausible.

The big news with the F12 comes courtesy of its engine. As tight a link as Ferrari has with Formula One, its ties to the 12-cylinder engine are even greater. Since its first road car, the 1947 125 S, Ferrari has consistently had a V12 in its lineup, weathering two North American fuel crises, stricter emissions standards and rising fuel prices.

The F12 builds on the same basic powerplant as the FF, complete with direct injection, but Ferrari's engineers cranked up the power for this application. The new F12 goes above and beyond expectations, turning out 730 hp — an easy 70 hp more than the FF. That's enough to make it the most powerful naturally aspirated production car in the world, and one of the most powerful cars you can buy in Canada.

Aero Bridge a unique way to avoid garish appendages, but add downforce

2013 Ferrari F12berlinetta(Photo: Michael Bettencourt)

Like the 458 Italia, the F12 avoids big spoilers and massive intakes for a clean yet aggressive look. The most notable detail is located up front; it's called the Aero Bridge and it consists of two sheetmetal scallops in the hood that channel air under a bridge in the bodywork to behind the front fender. This is done to increase front-end downforce.

It's actually possible to squeeze your hand — perhaps even a slender forearm — through the channel. Another neat detail is the variable brake vents. They only open when the brakes are hot; otherwise they stay closed to improve the car's aerodynamics.

Slightly smaller, narrower and lower than the 599 GTB, the F12 weighs 70 kg less than before.

2013 Ferrari F12berlinetta(Photo: Michael Bettencourt)

All this means its power-to-weight ratio — a key figure for any serious new performance machine — is up by more than 25 per cent. Given that the F12's closest front-engined rival, the Aston Martin AM310 Vanquish, doesn't even hit the 600-hp mark, it's easy to see the F12 as a vehicle in a class of its own.

The end result of the F12's formidable thunder is a scalding 0-100 km/h time of 3.1 seconds, its top speed coming in at 340 km/h, according to Ferrari testing. We didn't have a chance to witness Ferrari's stated one minute and 23 second lap time around Fiorano.

Another area that's been improved is the fuel economy. Ferrari claims a 30 per cent reduction from the 599 on the European cycle to 15.0 L/100 km combined. North American figures have yet to be released, but don't expect them to be as optimistic as stop/start will be an option.