Ferrari 812 GTS Review (2020): Race track thrash

Ferrari 812 GTS
Ferrari 812 GTS

With an epic V12 engine and sexy styling, Ferrari’s latest drop-top, 812 GTS, is a tantalising performance proposition that relishes a track thrash.

It’s not easy to drown out the sonorous howl of a Ferrari V12. But big speed and a lack of a roof goes a long way to achieving the audibly challenging.

The thought comes to me as I watch the digital speedo flash 265km/h down the main straight at Sydney Motorsport Park (formerly Eastern Creek). It helps that my helmet is poking out of the roof of the Ferrari 812 GTS that is my ride for some spirited hot laps.

As well as the gale-like roar of wind there’s a lightening of my helmet as it reaches skyward, the dome on the lid working like a crude aeroplane wing to create lift.

Ferrari 812 GTS
That’s Toby’s helmet sticking out…LOL

Then it’s hard on the brakes to wash off almost 100km/h throughout the fast sweeping corner that kicks off a lap. More impressive is how much pace the Ferrari builds in the rush down to the hairpin second bend. Another solid squeeze of the brakes is a reminder of just how much stopping power is hauling one of the most epic Ferraris ever created, now available as a GTS, or convertible. Carbon ceramic discs deliver eye-popping performance.

Drop-top Ferrari with V12 appeal

Drop-top Ferraris are nothing new, but the prospect of a V12 open-air Ferrari has remained elusive to many for decades. Previous iterations have been special editions, which typically require extensive Ferrari ownership to get on the shortlist of would-be owners.

With the 812 GTS Ferrari is getting more serious, albeit at an equally serious price: think $675,888, some $66,000 more than the roofed 812 Superfast (GTS denotes convertible, Superfast is the coupe).

Ferrari 812 GTS

Even then, you’ll be shelling out thousands more for things like Apple CarPlay, a reversing camera and autonomous emergency braking, the sorts of things now standard on $20,000 hatchbacks. If you’re one to get tied up in knots over that then you’re probably not the target market… By the time you get it on the road with a few of those extras don’t expect much change from 800 large – or more.

It’s all about the look … and the V12

Besides, such financial trivialities start to dissipate once you explore the 6.5-litre V12 lurking beneath the long bonnet, elegantly styled front wheel arches in your peripheral vision a reminder of the sheer length of bonnet up front. As the world transitions to turbos and hybrid tech, Ferrari’s V12 is a delicious reminder of how much there is to love about natural aspiration.

Ferrari 812 GTS

And it’s an engine that gets better with revs. The numbers tell the story. Its 718Nm torque peak arrives at 7000rpm – beyond where many engines have already given up. The 588kW power peak – 800 horsepower in the old money, hence the “8” in the name – arrives at 8500rpm, the point at which the seven-speed twin-clutch auto is calling for a gear change.

From 6000rpm up things get noticeably more exciting, acceleration nothing short of phenomenal. The 812 is claimed to reach 100km/h in less than 3.0 seconds. The dash from 100-200km/h takes around 5.3 seconds. Like an athlete lunging towards the finish line the 812 shows no signs of slowing as revs continue to swell.

Ferrari 812 GTS

At 7500rpm the V12 is in full song, still pulling prodigiously. It’s that final dash to 8500rpm – the point at which it’s ready to pull on the right-hand shift paddle to pluck the next ratio – that defines this engine.

The folding hard-top adds 75kg to the mass, but there’s never any shortage of oomph, the Ferrari refreshingly content at big speeds.

There are reminders of the 812’s reason for being, though; sure, it’s on the sportier side of the growing Ferrari showroom, but it’s difficult to hide 1735kg when you’re pushing on. The 812 is a big car that promises to pamper over long distances – while still rewarding during a spirited thrash.

Broad 20-inch tyres (they’re 315mm wide at the rear) hold on beautifully and there’s a user-friendliness that belies the speed at which ripple strips and safety fences are flashing past. Thank some fancy electronics for that. Ferrari is a leader in allowing big smiles while ensuring things don’t end up facing backwards. There’s beautiful progression to the way the traction control contains wheelspin, simply dialling back the power while maintaining momentum.

Ferrari 812 GTS

Yet it allows enough slip in Race mode for the occasional slip and (controlled) slide. Steering is pointy but in sync with the rear-end, which is aided by mild steering for added high speed confidence.

Of course, the GTS is more luxurious weekend away than race track star, although at some point it’s worth unleashing somewhere other than a policed road. It’s a glorious machine, one that rewards and pampers, always with raw speed at its heart.

Ferrari 812 GTS specifications

Price $675,888, plus options and on-road costs Engine 6.5-litre V12 Power 588kW at 8500rpm Torque 718Nm at 7000rpm Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch automatic 0-100km/h less than 3.0 seconds 0-200km/h 8.3 seconds Dimensions 4693mm long 1971mm wide 1276mm high 2720mm wheelbase Weight 1735kg Boot Space 250 litres Fuel Tank 92 litres Thirst 15.8L/100km

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If it's on four wheels, Toby Hagon has probably driven it. From the latest supercars to rock-hopping off-roaders (or anything in between!) he loves a road trip and works on the thinking that no road is too long or windy. The former National Motoring Editor at Fairfax these days runs his own show, contributing to Wheels, Which Car, News Corp, Qantas magazine and ABC Radio, and MotoFomo.