Unveiled in September 2019, the Ferrari 812 GTS is the open top version of the 812 Superfast. Exactly 50 years on from the debut of the last spider in the Ferrari range to sport a front-mounted V12, the Ferrari 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. This marks the first front-engine V12 series production convertible model offered by Ferrari in 50 years, as the convertible variants of the 550, the 575 and the 599 were limited edition models meant for special customers only.
The retractable hard top (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 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 hard top, a unique feature in this segment which also guarantees a larger boot capacity.
The draped design of the flanks visually shortens the tail and is characterised by sharply slanted crease lines and impressively muscular wheelarches that imbue it with the power and aggression warranted by its imposing V12. 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. On the spider version of the 812 Superfast, the entire rear of the car – roof, tonneau cover and luggage compartment – has been redesigned. The idea was to lend the car a new blend of sleekness and balance, thanks to two buttresses beneath which the roof movement mechanism is stowed. The buttresses were designed to visually embody a sense of forward thrust and lend the side windows a signature look that would set the spider apart from the berlinetta. When the top is dropped, the roof panels disappear beneath the aforementioned tonneau cover.
From a stylistic perspective, the rear wheelarch has lost the 812 Superfast’s characteristic aerodynamic by-pass. The absence of this duct has been compensated for, however, by reconfiguring the rear diffuser which now has an additional flap. The new Ferrari 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 hard top 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 wheelarch by-pass duct, the air intake of which was behind the quarterlight.
The Ferrari 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. 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.
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 high pressure injection system also improves nebulisation of the injected fuel thus dramatically reducing the amount of particulates emitted when the catalytic converter is warming up, and the fitment of a Gasoline Particulate Filter (GPF) together with the Stop&Start On the Move strategy, which cuts and restart the engine while the car is on the move, ensures the engine complies with all emissions regulations. 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 optimisation of the aforementioned power curve between 6500 and 8900 rpm, which maximises the average horse power exploitable for press-on track driving when engine revs are kept consistently high. 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. 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.
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