In the short period since the Ferrari 812 Superfast burst onto the automotive scene, it has earned the reputation of “the ultimate sports supercar” from industry gurus. These claims are supported by the plethora of silverware the car has already collected, including, and to no surprise, engine of the year.
Thus, when the opportunity was given to take the supercar through the paces of Dubai’s most picturesque and treacherous terrains, I said yes without second thoughts.
Even as we rolled up to the swanky Palm Jumeirah Hotel, famously located on the island shaped like a palm leaf, all eyes were drawn to the special Rosso Settanta red Ferrari sitting out front instead of the architectural marvel.
The plan? Spend 48 hours exploring the 812’s full capabilities in a multitude of environments that included highways, B roads, and tight mountain passes; I could not help but notice my wingman and fellow Ferrari Challenge racing car driver, Renaldi Hutasoit from Indonesia, and I were beaming with childlike grins.
We eventually got out of the city and onto the highway, where my right foot, growing in its impatience, floored the pedal and launched the 812 towards the horizon. I was instantly taken by how compliant and easy it was to drive this 800hp rocket ship. With something I would describe as an “eargasm”, we ate the kilometres like Pac-Man with the roar of the V12 engine as our backing soundtrack. Hutasoit was completely transfixed on the super-cool passenger-side LED display, racking up numbers at an astonishing rate as we sped along.
It was at this point the series of super-intelligent driver aids planted deep into the 812’s DNA started to truly shine; shorter gear ratios, improved aerodynamics, including a more prominent rear spoiler and larger diffuser, and rear wheel steering that was first introduced on the F12tdf. All these capabilities worked seamlessly together to give the utmost confidence to push the 812 hard.
The 812 made light work of the 300km drive out of Dubai, we quickly found ourselves at the foot of the stunning Jebel Jais Mountains in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE’s highest mountain with an elevation in excess of 1,900m. The racing driver in me looked forward to the opportunity of seeing how well the 812 handle the undulating twists and turns of this dramatic uphill climb.
Burying my right foot hard on the gas, I quickly found myself having to engage my left foot to brake … hard, to wash off some of the speed and set up for the fast approaching, tight left hander. This is where I could really feel some assistance from the four-wheel steering system as it cleverly calibrated the rear wheel steering angle to help the car rotate into the corner and counteract the understeer. I will be honest, I was a rear wheel steering sceptic, but this capability made me look like a rock star drifting through the corners.
As much as I stomped the right pedal on exits out of corners, the 812 would never let loose, even as I looked for traction on the yellow line. Credit goes to the clever on-board systems, many of which were developed via Ferrari’s F1 programme. This includes the electronic differential, F1 traction control, and enhanced Side Slip Control 5.0, which worked in tandem and at mind-blowing efficiency to ensure the fast car gets the right amount of power down.
As we reached the summit of Jebel Jais, we were pampered with the sweeping scenic views. However, our beautiful convoy parked up high on the mountain stole the show instead, distracting other admiring on-lookers.
Each hill climb was a harder push and an even harder attempt to find the limits of the 812, which seemed to be non-existent and it became apparent why this car has so quickly forged its reputation. Maranello totally deserves all present and future accolades for building what is arguably the greatest modern-day super GT on the planet.
By Martin Berry
Edited by Jonathan Ho