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CNET On Cars: Ferrari F12: A supercar for all seasons (CNET On Cars, Episode 28)
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CNET On Cars: Ferrari F12: A supercar for all seasons (CNET On Cars, Episode 28)

28:31 /

The Ferrari F12 speaks a unique tech dialect, how to avoid one of the nastiest kinds of collisions, and changing your oil the right way in 30 minutes or less.

-Okay, here we go. Sync and off to the races. F12, a Ferrari for all seasons. Technology to minimize one of the ugliest collisions. And our most requested and greasy Car Tech 101. You can change the oil without changing the filter? You can also take a shower without changing your underwear. Time to check the tech. We see cars differently. Nice. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. Welcome to CNET on Cars, the show all about high-tech cars and modern driving. You know, it's not too hard to name some really incredible luxury cars, nor to come up with a list of incredibly fast ones, even nice-looking cars you might see everyday. But to put all those attributes together into one, that's a pretty good trick still until you run into a Ferrari F12. So, we drove one recently to examine it through all those lenses, and of course, to check the tech. Now, Ferrari isn't like Ford or Chevy. They don't build a car for every practical purpose. They build a car for every impractical purpose. The F12 is a GT Berlinetta. Let's break that down. Now, we use GT all wrong in America. GT is a Granturismo in proper parlance. That means a grand-touring car, so take high performance, add spacious room and comfort for two adults, maybe a room for two kids in the back, a car you don't mind being in while you're going fast. Now, the Berlinetta part, that's the diminutive form of the Italian Berlina, which is a limousine or luxurious saloon. Put these two together and you've got a grand-touring performance car with the luxury of a little limo. Yeah. Prepare to write a big check. Now, a blind man could spot this car from a thousand yards on a foggy day because it's got the most distinctive body styling of anything on the road right here. This is called the Aero Bridge, big dip channel on either side of the hood, comes into, literally, a bridge across this gap that opens up on the side of the car and along the door. This channels air away from a turbulent pressure zone here. They say it's good for up to 270 pounds of downforce at full tilt. Inside, this cabin harkens to me back to the early mid-60s 250 GTs which had this kind of protruding eyebrow design like this. Of course, those have now moved to LCD panels replaced by some very handy nozzles. Big central actual tach and that's your only gauge. Two flanking LCDs -- the one on the right handles infotainment, navigation is up, radio is left, media right, phone is down. On this side, vehicle settings. Now, those vehicle dynamic settings known as the VDA button are tied at this. This is Ferrari's Manettino setup. All the way down gets you into Wet. So, it's gonna modulate power very gradually for sloppy conditions. Up one more, they call Sport. That's actually just normal mode. Up the next one is Race. That's what most car companies call Sport Mode. It tightens everything up in terms of power delivery, shift points, and such. Then, you've got CT Off. This is going to push the car right to the ragged edge before the systems jump in and save you. Finally, rotate and hold for ESC Off. This has turned off stability control and traction control. Time to call your insurance company and tell them there's a claim coming. As you work through the manettino settings, you also end up with a series of displays on the left that show you what you're getting into, through six different vehicle subsystems. F1-Trac is the traction control, Formula 1 inspired. E-Diff is the electronically controlled rear differential. F1-DC that is our automated manual dual-clutch transmission. ESC is stability control. ABS, obviously anti-lock brakes. SCM is the magnetorheological adaptive suspension. The fluid in the actual dampers changes viscosity as electrical current is applied. You don't drive this car like any other. Yes, you put a key in and turn it, but all that does is arm the thing. Then, you start it with an engine start button. To turn it off, you rotate the key back out again. These guys up here onto your thumbs are your turn signals, similarly non-stalk base to your high beams. You push this button on, off. Down here is a shock setting. Press it once for bumpy road. Press it again for smooth road. And this little thing here controls your wipers. I still haven't figured out how it works. No shifter of any kind. Aside from your paddles, you've got these three buttons on this arc in the console. R is reverse. Auto is automatic mode, kind of like what you would have in drive. PS, I don't know that that stands for, is actually launch mode. Quite a few cameras. You've your reverse camera which looks pretty good, lots of good guidance lines on it. Then, as soon as you go into drive or go forward from there, it cuts away to a similar forward camera. And if you push this button up here, you can invoke a walleye view as well. As you can imagine, this whole cabin is low slung. It gives me a lot of headroom. I don't believe, but I'm not sure, that a sunroof is available in this car. And I absolutely love this titanium over brown color scheme. Thank you for not being red. But if you think this is gorgeous and it is, you ain't seen nothing yet. Now, I'm about to open the hood. I don't normally give you warning about this, but I did it last night for someone who's seen a lot of nice cars and he almost fainted dead away. Just know your warrant. That's the sexiest thing under heat metal you'll ever see. This is a 6.3 liter naturally aspirated V12, direct-injected of course, but no turbos, no superchargers, no cheats basically. One key thing, high compression-- 13.5 to 1. You don't want this thing on regular. 730 horsepower, 509-foot pounds of torque, a big number, sure, but clearly a revver, not a grunter. The car weighs about 3,500 pounds, driven out to the rear wheels only through a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual only. The result is 0 to 60 in three seconds, really less than that in anyone's hands that's capable. And the MPG 12/16 may not sound interesting to you, but it's a full 30 percent better than the Ferrari that this guy replaces. Look where the front of the engine block is. It's right about here. So, your engine is yeah, that puts it right at the axle line qualifying this as what's known as upfront mid-engine design. That's key to get this car some nice rotational performance when you're cornering or hanging the rear end out. Also, check these interesting structures out. I've never seen these on an engine. These are off the intake plenum and there's some kind of an expansion chamber that helps this car breathe, and as we're gonna find out on the road, it really works. Let's go. This is one of the most civilized driving, dual-clutch, high-performance cars I've ever driven. It's really, really nice. It's all there. This power comes on almost [unk]. That's the beauty of an engine like this. It is so tuned for great breathing. It's how they got that incredible power without putting any augmented intake on it. The ride quality is really quite good. This is not a great highway I'm on right here, but it's tamping out all the nasty stuff. And the nice sort of laid-back driving position in this car is just-- you're in the slack when you're sitting on this side. Because the engine is so responsive, because the aluminum subframe and structure of this car is so stiff and relatively light, it seems to lose a thousands pounds off its 3,500 somewhat pound printed weight. The car doesn't feel that heavy at all. What's really going on here is the trend in supercar manufacturer to make these vehicles incredibly fast, incredibly capable in their dynamics, but also really easy to drive. Okay. Let's price our 2014 F12. That's for kick. It's about 330 grand. There are a few options to get it fully CNET style. I think the cameras were an optional package and a few other things, but it doesn't matter. You're not gonna swing one of these sooner than I can. By the way, our time in that F12 came courtesy of its owner, a good friend and a great fan of CNET on Cars. Now, the engine on that car, 6.3 V12 is gonna make another apparent soon Ferrari's first hybrid, a car they call LaFerrari. If you happen to know one of the 499 people who'll be allowed to buy one, drop me an e-mail. We'll reach out and see if we can take it for a spin and bring that one to you as well. Now, there's no kind of accident you want to get into, but there are some you don't wanna get into more than others. And the rear underride collision is probably on that list. Diabolical for the way it can defeat many of the safety advances of the last few decades. Smarter Driver wants to pay attention right now. Ninety-four percent of the fatalities that occur when cars and trucks tangle are people in the car. Duh. And one of the nastiest kinds of those accidents is the rear underride -- when you slam into the back of one of those big semi-trailers. A collision so nasty, it became this iconic scene in that movie from the early '70s, The Seven-Ups. You see that one with Roy Scheider? That scene doesn't leave your memory very quickly. You don't wanna get into one of those. Luckily, if you do happen to rear end a semi these days, there's almost certainly gonna be this big bar that hangs down on two uprights. You've seen these at the underride guard. And then, it will keep your car largely from submarining underneath the vehicle. But if you hit one dead on from the rear, odds are pretty good your car's front crumple zone is going to engage it and that's going to largely protect you inside your vehicle. -The Federal Government requires that the backs of semi-truck trailers have underride guards to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath them in the event of a crash. -Plus, those guards vary widely in strength. There's not a really good high standard across the industries. Some trailer makers build a real tough. Others don't and they collapse far too easily. -The weakest underride guard in our test series was on a Hyundai trailer. When this Malibu struck the Hyundai in the rear in a center impact at 35 miles per hour, the guard was simply pushed out of the way. The attachment bolts broke. The damage to the Malibu was so severe that real people in this crash probably would have died. -Now, while about 12 percent of car-truck fatalities are underride rear-end collisions, there's a whole big risk of side underride if you come broadside under a trailer or hit that at like a 45 degree. Even at speeds as slow as 35 miles an hour, cars often submarine under the side of the underride guard. And that's much rare to see the kind of guards that prevent that. They're much more common in Europe. Now, things have been getting a lot better on those underride guards. First of all, they used to be required to be, I think, 60 inches wide. Now, I believe they have to be at least 94 inches wide up to, I think, 110 inches. So, there's a lot more width there to find the sweet spot. And while many of the trailer manufacturers are doing a better job of voluntarily making them stronger, there's been a petitioning of the Federal Government by the insurance industry to adopt the tougher Canadian standard that dates back to 2007, but again, it's not mandatory in the U.S. And some big trucks don't have an underride guard at all because of the mechanical complexity of it. Look at a dump truck, for example, because the bed has to tilt, the underride guard would get in the way and clip the ground or the wheels, similar for some of those big dump trailer semis you see. So, here's what the Smarter Driver does. You allow more space as you're about to make a lane change out from behind the semi because the problem is as you're turning to look for a clear lane, what if that truck slows down a lot? Suddenly, you're starting your lane change, he's stopping down, and you take a glancing blow on that underride guard. It's the one you don't wanna have. Coming up, the Car Tech 101 you've been asking for longer than any other. Oil is gonna keep coming out. It's the dumbest thing. I don't get it. When CNET on Cars rolls on. -There are only other three serious Ford's dubbed GT, and today, we've got all three of them. There's one that's really interesting. It's the Mark III and it was only made for road use. Only seven were ever completed and that's the one we've got here. This is just incredible. You don't so much drive it as sort of lie down in it. -More love of cars at CNET.com/XCAR. -Welcome back to CNET on Cars. Coming to you from our home here at the Marin Clubhouse with Cars Dawydiak, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. You know, I feel a little bad about this next Car Tech 101 because it isn't really tech, although it is definitely a 101 as well as your most requested ever for this segment. Here it is. How to change your oil the right way? Now, as you can see, we're gonna be using the old Country Squire as our oil change mule which you might say is a little outdated except it points up an interesting reality about oil changes. Doing them has not really changed since your old man was learning how to do so. It's still the same basic process. First of all, start off by idling your car from cold for a couple of minutes. No more than that or you're gonna get scalded. If the car has already been running, let it cool down a bit and then shut her down. Next, get your car up in the air, either on jack stands or, my preference, on ramps -- they're just easier -- or in a pinch, you can actually park diagonally across the curb and crawl in the gutter if it's dry. And don't forget to chock one of your back wheels. Okay. Now, your car is up on ramps, cooling off a little bit but staying warm. You get your stuff together. First and foremost, you need your oil, typically about 5 quarts. Your owner's manual in the maintenance section will tell you how much. We'll talk about grades and weights later when we actually fill the car. Next thing, make sure you get a funnel to pour it in with. If you don't have one of these, you're gonna make a mess all over the place when you're filling. A wrench to get the drain plug off the bottom of the pan, that's how the oil gets out of the car. And a filter wrench, this thing is what goes around the filter and takes it off. You don't use it to put the filter on; however, that brings us to the filter. Again, any name brand or one from the parts counter at your auto store. And you can change the oil without changing the filter? You can also take a shower without changing your underwear. I'll leave it at that. The oil goes into some kind of a catch container. You can use an open pan or one of these that seals up so it's easier to take it to the recycle place later and you have to do that. And finally, to keep yourself presentable after all this, a box of this nitrile gloves and a microfiber rag. You'll see why microfiber is important when we're busy filling up the car. Let's go. First thing you do is take the cap off the oil filler neck. It's gonna be a very obvious thing somewhere in the top center front of your engine. Put that away you don't lose it. You do this right off the bat because, otherwise, there could be a vacuum in the engine that prevents all the oil from draining out. And that's where we're going next, underneath the dirty party. Now, the first thing you want to identify is the crankcase, the pan underneath the engine here, to take off our drain bolts, but notice your car may have two like this one does because there's a valley in the pan to accommodate a crossmember and you gotta drain one at a time. I'm gonna start with the one on the back 'cause that's where the car is leaning. Here's the maxim about changing oil. No matter how long you leave this plug out, oil is gonna keep coming out. It's the dumbest thing. I don't get it. It's like going to the fountain at Lourdes. Now, some cars, they want you to use a new washer on this drain bolt. I'm pretty lazy. I normally don't and it seems to work just fine. Nice, clean, shiny drain bolt, that's what you wanna see. Now, carefully, you re-thread that drain plug back in. You don't want to cross thread or strip those threads. That's a real nightmare. Go ahead and snug it up. Don't go too far. You can easily strip these things. Snug is fine. Wipe away the excess oil so you can spot drips later. And now, I gotta go and do the front chamber. Okay. As we've emptied out our crankcase, we put both of our drain bolts back in and we cleaned up around them so we can spot leaks, but we're not done yet. We've gotta pull that filter off and it's got oil in it as well. Now, we're gonna use this filter wrench. This thing goes around the filter, grabs it, and unscrews it. You're gonna get the orientation right. I like these ones here that you attach your own ratchet tube because it's a smaller apparatus to store. They're about third of the way down the body and then just turn this thing counterclockwise like anything else should loosen and it starts to come away from the block. Once you get it loose, pull the tool and you can do the rest by hand. Okay. Once you get this thing off, immediately tip it down into your pan here and drain it and just let that thing sit there and do its nasty business. Now, right up here is where the filter attaches. You can see it's got this sort of threaded part in the middle and you wanna get that clean. Here's why I like microfiber rags because they don't leave big pieces of thread or lint in there that can cause the new filter to fail at the seal and you're ready for the new filter. Now, take your new filter, get some oil out of one of your new bottles, and smear it around this rubber seal right here. I've heard two stories about that. One is that makes it seal better when you put it on. The other is it makes it come off better when you do your next oil change. Whichever is true, just do it, it costs nothing. Let's put this guy on it. Don't bump it into anything dirty so the seal stays clean and thread it carefully, not cross-threading. Turn it 'till it just touches the mating phase on the block and then go three quarters of a turn by hand. You don't use the filter wrench and that's as tight as you need it. That's it. You're all sealed up. Do a quick check. Your drain bolts or bolts are in place and tight and clean and your filter is on, tightened by hand. Time to go back upstairs and fill her up. Now, let's talk about what kind of oil you wanna use now that we're gonna fill the engine. Frankly, it's an easier job to bring Israel and Palestine together than to broker the religious wars around motor oil, but let me summarize this way. First, look at the owner's manual. It will tell you what weight or viscosity to use. That's listed right here on the front, like this one says 20W50. Because of polymers that have been engineered into it, it can have two different viscosities at different temperature ranges. The 20W, W stands for winter, 20 is the cold weather viscosity of this oil, 50 is its relative viscosity when it heats up to operating temperature of 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. That's where they test it. Most cars today use a much lighter weight. It's more like 520 versus this 2050, but I've got an older engine here with a lot of miles, so a heavier or thicker oil is appropriate. Now, go on the back here and you'll find something called the API Service Rating. This one says SM, that's the second highest grade. There's also an SN, as in Nancy, which is kind of a latest best quality oil. They're all really good. "S" stands for spark ignition. It's appropriate for gas engines. If there was a C here, that means compression ignition or diesel engines. Make sure you get that right. Now, once you have done putting in the rated number of quarts, we're gonna seal this guy up, turn on the engine, and look for leaks underneath. Take a peek at your one or two drain plugs. Make sure they're not weeping. Look up around your filter. Make sure it's not weeping. It is time to get her off the ramps, down on the ground, check the oil level, and we're done. Now, here's your last step and it's very important. Get the car on level ground, turn the car off, pull your dipstick. You wanna make sure regardless of how many quarts you put in, that it's actually the right amount for the engine. Don't ever trust the number as much as you trust the dipstick. Take that dipstick out, clean it once. Don't trust the first pull 'cause the car has been running and that creates turbulence down there which will give you a false high. Then, pull that guy up and you wanna read right there where it's got those hashmarks that show you where you should be. Just about a full. Notice how nice and clean that oil is too. Later on, that's gonna be pitch black. That doesn't mean the oil has worn out, though. You're done and that goes right back in there. And we're done. Now, what to do with that old oil and filter? That's easy. Go to Earth911.org to find local places to drop it off. Don't dump it. Okay. So, that's an oil change. Once you've done it a couple times, it should be no more than 30 minutes from hood up to hood down. It's a dirty job. There's no way around that, but it's one of the last things you can do where you can really take charge of your vehicle's longevity in this high-tech age. It's kind of satisfying, though. Okay. That's it. Coming up, an All-Ferrari Top Five when CNET on Cars returns. -So, we start with the Boxster and your roof for the Cayman, then on your right to rear seats in a 911. Nice. But why was the Cayman so good? Because it's far, far more capable than you are. Its chassis can take more power. It makes an incredible noise. And it does one thing that a lot of others simply don't. -More love of cars at CNET.com/XCAR. -Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. Here's a part of the show we take your e-mail, questions either about things we've talked about or things you'd like us to talk about. Starting off with one from Mansour who's writing in from the UAE. And he asks, "Hey, Cooley, if it was your money spending on a car today and they still made cars with carbs, which would you buy? That or fuel-injected?" That's a hands-down, easy answer. Fuel injection, especially in its latest derivation, direct injection. It improves MPG, horsepower, lowers emissions all at once, a total no-brainer. If you wanna understand direct injection, head over to our very first episode, CNET on Cars #1, where our first Car Tech 101 was DI. The key to this design is this little part right here. That is a direct fuel injector. Notice where it's brazed fuel. Now, I'm no stranger to carburetors, however, which brings us to our next e-mail. This one comes in from Arth who says, "You reviewed a lot of cars on CNET, but I would like to know which cars you've owned in the past and what do you drive currently?" Be careful what you ask for, Arth. My daily driver is an '88 Ford Country Squire, if you even know what that is. A lot of folks know it by sight but not by name. But I've also got a bunch of carbureted cars. I have a '68 Fiat 850 Coupe and a '67 Mercury Cougar, so I know my way around Weber and Autolite carburetors more than I'd like to some weekends. I've owned a bunch of other interesting older cars as well and I've got a slide show on those that we did a couple of years ago. You can find the link over at CNETonCars.com in the show notes for this episode. Now, Ferraris, like the one we drove at the top of the show, are known so much for their high-speed performance, their beautiful looks, their high-price tag, but in all of that, we frequently lose track of their tech milestones. We're going to address that now with Top Five Ferrari tech innovations. Ferrari is well known for cars that are fast, gorgeous, pricey, and far too often red, but lost in all that sometimes is their technology. Number five, the electrochromic roof. The 2005 Superamerica wowed with a glass roof that went from clear to dark electrochromically, kind of like those sunglasses that were the rage in the '70s, but in this case, triggered by a button and an electric circuit. The thing also rotated back 180 degrees in case you still weren't getting enough attention. Not only had no one done this combination before, I don't think anyone has done it since. Number four, active aerodynamics. This is Formula 1 stuff that Ferrari knows very well, but brought to production cars on the 458 Speciale. Movable flaps at each end of the car changed its airflow starting around 90 miles an hour to optimize downforce and keep the thing on the ground. To be fair, though, Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, and Dodge Dart also do this, though, do a dramatically different end result. Number three is the manettino, another lift from Formula 1. The manettino is the little handle. It's the most serious, if not the first, drive mode selector. You find it on Ferrari wheels. BMW's M button and the Audi Drive Mode Select do something very similar, but Ferrari's little switch as cool as it looks gave electronic car modes real cred. Number two, a hybrid. That's right. The recursively named Ferrari LaFerrari will be their first production hybrid, though it will probably lack the ability to run in EV, electric only mode, the way other hybrids do. That's because the company reckons correctly, I think, that a Ferrari should always sound like one. Now, yes, Porsche has the 918 hybrid beating Ferrari to the punch by a whisker or so. But there's something about a Ferrari hybrid that's gonna change more minds globally. The number one Ferrari innovation that really resonated was no manual transmission. Around late 2012, the California Spyder became the last Ferrari to offer a manual gearbox, ending the run of the most iconic and one of the most unforgiving shift gates in all of history. All Ferraris today ship with basically an automatic, a dual- clutch automated manual gearbox. Now, while Volkswagen was first to market with this in the '03 Golf R32, Ferrari's cancellation of the clutch pedal really signals the end of an era. Hope you enjoyed the show and keep those e-mails coming. I read them all personally. That's on cars@cnet.com. And don't forget the site, CNETonCars.com, where you'll find a ton of back episodes including a slew of Car Tech 101s as well as feed links to get all the future stuff. Thanks for watching. See you next time we check the tech.
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