Maranello: 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 majestic 800 cv V12, it is not merely the most powerful production spider on the market, but also the most versatile, thanks to its retractable hardtop, a unique feature in this segment which also guarantees a larger boot capacity.
The retractable hardtop (RHT), which opens in just 14 seconds at speeds of up to 45 km/h, does not impinge upon the interior dimensions, thus maintaining the donor car’s roomy cockpit. The electric rear screen, which acts as a wind stop, makes the car truly useable with the top down while, with the top up, it can be left open to allow occupants to continue to luxuriate in the naturally-aspirated V12’s unique soundtrack.
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 800 cv at 8500 rpm, is the most powerful engine in its class. 718 Nm 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.
Particular attention was also paid to calibrating the Manettino settings to enhance the engine’s potential and the sensation of extreme power delivered by the car.
That said, the driver will always be able to easily and confidently dose the massive torque available with the accelerator pedal, thanks to smooth, progressive power delivery at all engine speeds.
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.
The shape of the power curve, which rises constantly all the way to the maximum revs of 8500 rpm, and the rapidity with which engine speed increases, thanks to low inertia, give occupants the feeling of boundless power and acceleration. The latter sensation comes courtesy of the overall increase in maximum power output and the optimization of the aforementioned power curve between 6500 and 8900 rpm, which maximizes the average horsepower exploitable for press-on track driving when engine revs are kept consistently high.
The geometry of the exhaust system was evolved to increase and balance the sound from the engine and tailpipes, with the aim of accentuating the car’s extremely sporty character with the roof down.
Designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre and based on the 812 Superfast, the 812 GTS echoes the formal language and proportions of Ferrari’s front-engined V12 without altering either its exterior dimensions or interior space and comfort, so it represents the perfect marriage of sportiness and elegance.
From the side view, the 812 GTS has a fastback sleekness: a two-box design with a high tail reminiscent of the glorious 365 GTB4 (Daytona) of 1968.
The draped design of the flanks visually shortens the tail and is characterized by sharply slanted crease lines and impressively muscular wheel arches that imbue it with the power and aggression warranted by its imposing V12.
On the spider version of the 812 Superfast, the entire rear of the car – roof, tonneau cover, and luggage compartment – has been redesigned.
The new 812 GTS also features a new, highly sculptural, and model-specific multi-spoke forged wheel. A choice of three versions will be offered: diamond-finish, liquid silver and Grigio Scuro.
Aerodynamically, the 812 GTS posed two main challenges for the Ferrari designers: how to guarantee the same performance as the coupé version with the top up and, at the same time, ensure maximum passenger comfort with the roof down.
In terms of pure aerodynamic performance, the retractable hardtop and its stowage compartment required that the rear of the car be modified. Thanks to meticulous resculpting of the tonneau cover surfaces and, most importantly, the integration of a triplane wing into rear diffuser to create efficient suction (and thus downforce) from the underbody, the aerodynamicists were able to compensate for the downforce lost by the removal of the 812 Superfast’s rear wheel arch bypass duct, the air intake of which was behind the quarterlight.
As with the LaFerrari Aperta, two small L-shaped flaps on the upper corners of the windscreen generate a coherent concentrated vortex that creates outwash in the velocity field immediately above the rear screen, thereby avoiding excess pressure behind the occupants’ heads.
The aim of developing the 812 GTS was to retain the exhilarating feeling of speed and power delivered by the Berlinetta version in terms of accelerating, response times, and agility.
The 812 GTS is equipped with all of the 812 Superfast’s new generation components and control systems and, like it, delivers impressive handling. It sports Electric Power Steering (EPS) which, in line with Ferrari tradition, is used to fully exploit the potential of the car in terms of performance by integrating it with all of the electronic vehicle dynamics controls.
The following driver assistance features are also featured: Ferrari Peak Performance (FPP): when cornering, the steering wheel torque will provide an indication that the car is getting closer to its limit of grip: – Optimised calibration of the car’s magnetorheological dampers mean its elastic set-up is the same as the Berlinetta version’s despite the 75kg increase in weight caused by strengthening work on the chassis.
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 Bberlinetta’s: 340 km/h.