If it feels like we’ve been saying goodbye a lot lately, that’s because we have. The Ferrari 812 Competizione isn’t just the last version of the F12 that launched in 2012, it likely also will be the last new Ferrari that isn’t a hybrid. Every prancing horse that follows it will have a battery pack and an electric motor to aid acceleration, improve efficiency, and reduce emissions. With the LaFerrari and the SF90, Ferrari has proved that it can integrate and optimize a hybrid system for performance, so we’re not too concerned about the short-term future. But the 812 Competizione does feel like the end of an era—the last glorious stand of the nonhybrid V-12-powered Ferrari.
The 6.5-liter V-12 under the hood of the new Ferrari 812 Competizione is an internal-combustion exclamation mark. It types in ALL CAPS as it revs all the way to a valvetrain-pulverizing 9500 rpm. Suddenly the 8600-rpm redline of the new Chevy Corvette Z06 doesn’t seem so impressive.
Granted, at $601,570, the Competizione costs a lot more than a Z06, and the production run of 500 coupes and 312 Competizione A models—the A is for Aperta, or “open” in Italian—are all spoken for. What those very lucky buyers will get is an 819-hp V-12 to end all V-12s. To bump the redline up by 500 rpm over the 812 Superfast’s already-dizzying 9000-rpm limit, the Competizione’s engine gets titanium connecting rods, a lighter crankshaft, a new cylinder head with finger-follower actuated valves, and diamond-like carbon coating on several surfaces to reduce friction. A redesigned oil tank better handles lateral and longitudinal forces, and it holds a less-viscous oil than other V-12 Ferraris, allowing a variable-rate oil pump to move the engine’s blood more efficiently and at a greater rate. Thinner oil is the equivalent of this car being on blood thinners. No one wants a clot.
If the 812 Superfast is truth in advertising, then the Competizione is super-duper fast. Your mind struggles to process the experience because your senses can’t quite keep up. Surges to the 9250-rpm power peak in first and second gear happen so quickly that if you think about anything but pulling the right shift paddle, you’ll bang into the rev limiter. Thoughtfully, Ferrari fits shift lights on the top of the steering wheel to help track the approaching redline. They’re your only hope of getting it right.
Even in the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic’s higher gears, the engine pulls doggedly and fast to the redline. Power delivery is exactly what you’d hope for in a 12-cylinder car: smooth, linear, and uninterrupted. From the outside, the sound is right out of the combustion engine’s greatest-hits album. Inside, the engine growls deeply and directly through the redesigned intake. Hold the accelerator down and straights shrink to nothing, with braking zones arriving sooner than expected. Front brake calipers borrowed from the SF90 feature integrated cooling ducts to improve fade resistance and facilitate the removal of dedicated brake ducting.
To keep the Competizione on the ground, Ferrari added a new rear diffuser and a revised rear-spoiler profile. The most obvious change made to satisfy the air is the rear window, which is no longer a window. Instead of rear glass, a lighter-than-glass panel with riblike protrusions disrupts the airflow, helping balance the downforce acting on the rear of the car. There’s still an inside rearview mirror, but it projects what the little camera stuck on the panel sees out back.
Typical of Ferrari, steering efforts are light. Quick to respond to every tiny movement, the nose moves with an amazing agility that never seems darty or nervous. Even with a big V-12 up front, the Competizione manages to carry 49 percent of its weight over the nose (thank you, rear-mounted transaxle). Helping to keep this missile stable is a retuned rear-wheel-steering system. In addition to moving in response to steering inputs, the rear steer now acts without steering-wheel input to stabilize the car or help mitigate understeer. Brake hard in a straight line and the system will toe the rear wheels in to keep the car on its path. In our few laps around Ferrari’s test track, we didn’t exactly notice the system at play, but the Competizione is without bad habits, and the predictable handling engenders the confidence to whip this ridiculously expensive and powerful car around a racetrack.
For the trackbound, Ferrari offers a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R tire option. Base versions (if something this expensive can be called “base”) ride on Pirelli P Zero Corsa PZ4Cs. Tire width remains the same as on the Superfast—275/35R-20s in front and 315/35R-20s in back—but the aggressive Michelins (and even the Corsas) should better the Superfast’s 1.00 g of grip we measured on the skidpad back in 2018. Those grip levels take a bit of getting used to—we didn’t drive on the Pirellis—but so do the power, the sound, and the entire experience. There’s joy in the challenge of probing the Competizione’s limits and switching the steering-wheel knob (manettino) from Race to C/T off, the setting that dials back the stability control and shuts off the traction control.
A mix of tradition and technology, the Competizione carries its V-12 proudly up front as if this is still the early 1960s. But every inch of the car has been tweaked and pushed to technological limits. The only thing left is to add an electric motor to the mix. And that’s likely what will happen with every Ferrari from here on out.
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