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Cooley On Cars
On the road: Ferrari F12berlinettaCNET's Brian Cooley checks the tech on the Ferrari F12berlinetta and tells you why it's the supercar for all seasons.
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 One 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.