Exactly 50 years on from the debut of the last spider in the Ferrari range to sport a front-mounted V12, the 812 GTS hails a triumphant return for a model type that has played a pivotal role in the marque’s history since its foundation.
The Ferrari V12 spider story features many iconic models and began in 1948 with the 166 MM, an authentic thoroughbred competition GT that won the two most prestigious endurance races in the world in 1949: the Mille Miglia and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The last in that long lineage was the 1969 365 GTS4, also known as the Daytona Spider because of Ferrari’s legendary victory in the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona when two works 330 P4s and the NART-entered 412 P took the chequered flag side-by-side to occupy the top three places.
The front-mounted V12 architecture has not been used in a Ferrari series-production spider since the 365 GTS4.
That said, four special series limited editions have been launched: the 550 Barchetta Pininfarina in 2000, the Superamerica in 2005, the SA Aperta in 2010 and, most recently, the F60 America of which just 10 were built to celebrate Ferrari’s 60th year on the American market in 2014.
Like its historic predecessors, the 812 GTS sets a new benchmark in terms of performance and exclusivity. Sporting Ferrari’s 588kW V12, it’s the most powerful production spider on the market.
The 812 GTS is the spider version of the 812 Superfast, from which it takes both its specifications and performance, most notably the power unit which, thanks to its ability to unleash a massive 588kW at 8500rpm, is the most powerful engine in its class. 718Nm of torque guarantees impressive acceleration virtually on a par with that of the 812 Superfast while the heady 8900 rpm rev limit means that sporty driving is undiminished.
As on the 812 Superfast, these performance levels were achieved in part by optimising the engine design and in part by innovations, such as the use of a 350 bar direct injection system, and the control system for the variable geometry inlet tracts, developed on naturally-aspirated F1 engines. These systems allowed the increase in displacement from 6.2 to 6.5-litres to be exploited to maximise power output whilst retaining excellent pick-up even at low revs.
The shape of the torque curve reveals that torque distribution was not sacrificed to boost power. A significant 80% of maximum torque is available at just 3500 rpm, improving both flexibility and pick-up at lower revs, says Ferrari.
Gearbox and performance
The dual-clutch transmission’s gear-shift strategies enhance the car’s sportiness. When the Manettino is in sportier settings, both up- and down-shift times have been significantly cut and the transition time has been optimised to enhance the driver experience. Combined with the shortened gear ratios, these modifications, mean that occupants will instantly feel that the car’s response to the throttle.
Exhaust-wise, prevalence was given to combustion order harmonics by modifying the geometry of the centre extension pipes. All the pipes in the 6-in-1 exhaust manifold to the monolithic catalytic converter are of equal-length and this optimises the sound by giving predominance to the first-order combustion harmonics. The result is a full-bodied V12 sound in the cabin in all kinds of driving, but which is particularly appreciable when the roof is open.
Consequently, its overall performance levels are very close to those of the berlinetta, with 0-100 km/h acceleration in under 3 seconds and 0-200 km/h in just 8.3 seconds. The Ferrari 812 GTS’s maximum speed is the same as the berlinetta’s: 340 km/h.