First Drive: 2021 Ferrari 812 GTS Review
Put simply this is a folding hardtop version of Ferrari’s 812 Superfast V12 supercar. But that would be doing the impact of this car a disservice. In fact this is a 6.5-litre V12-engined convertible that revs to as near as dammit 9,000rpm with power routed entirely to the rear wheels. It’s the most powerful V12 convertible that Ferrari has ever built, the first proper series production one for decades (most V12 convertible GTs from Maranello have been limited editions) and may well be the final one to come without a turbocharger or a hybrid system.
- Incredible looks of the 812 carry over well
- Drive is a pure joy without any fear
- V12 engine is a masterpiece
We don't like
- Interior can be a little fiddly
- Lack of infotainment options for the passenger
- We had to give it back
The only real notifications that this isn't just the 812 Superfast coupe are the joins in the roof and the change to the rear deck. Other than that it looks as spectacular as the riged-roofed car. At the back the diffuser has changed to help airflow and the roof doesn't join to the rear in the same flush way as the coupe. That's simply to include the upright small rear window that forms part of the folding roof mechanism. The rear deck is also flat, with the sloping glass that met with the rear replaced with a horizontal deck and a pair of buttresses.
Performance and Handling
The 812 Superfast’s final nine letters might sound like some hyperbole from the mouth of a youngster, but they are in fact perfectly correct and would still suitably fit the GTS. Under that long bonnet you’ll find a 6.5-litre V12 engine, revving all the way out to that rev line up near the clouds of 9,000rpm and pumping out 800PS (599kW) and a neck endangering 717Nm (529lb ft) of torque. A seven-speed gearbox sends all that power in only one direction – backwards – to a pair of giant Pirelli P-Zeros. That is enough to theoretically propel the 812 GTS to 62mph in just 3.0 seconds dead and on to 211mph.
The standard 812 is a marvel (read our review here) so Ferrari faced a tricky prospect making the GTS stand up to its illustrious sibling. In come a folding metal roof (down in just 14 seconds at speeds below 30mph) and some other trickery to keep it on a level playing field. For example, there is a redesigned rear diffuser to help give the GTS the same aero power as the Superfast even with that more upright rear window that results from the folding top. With the modifications that have had to be made to keep the GTS from becoming a soggy mess the 812 is 85kg heavier than its coupe brother. Which is actually impressively low, and with this much power right there it’s really a piffling difference.
Out with it then, the 812 is absolutely blinding to drive. When you hear 800PS you instantly start to worry about its road-worthiness, and especially at 8am on a very cold October morning. But as soon as you floor it, you realise there is absolutely nothing to worry about. A lot of electronic trickery has gone into making the GTS manageable to drive, including a four-wheel-steering system, and it works very well, but underneath it all, with everything in race, and those systems shuttered, you realise this is just a phenomenally friendly chassis. It’s almost impossible to describe just how much the 812 pulls you along, signalling every single movement or upcoming trouble without alarm, but with a gentle nudge. It feels very much like going out to drive an F1 car, and having Sebastian Vettel joining you over a headset to talk you through exactly what is going on from five seconds in the future. Floor it and there’s a little slip at the rear, but it’s certainly not bucking in an attempt to throw you off the road like some (I’m looking at you Porsche 911 Turbo). The front end is eager and planted, while the rear is obedient and everything just pushes you on and on. The fear that inevitably builds every time you sign the waivers to jump in a colossally expensive and powerful Ferrari dissipates very quickly and is replaced with utter, utter joy.
It’s made all the better by that soundtrack, and you don’t even need to put the roof down (not advisable on our morning in the car when it was near enough zero degrees). Just wind down that little rear window and every single decibel is straight into your ears, every crack of an upshift, every scream and every howl just bursting through your body like some kind of highly illegal Class A narcotic. The gearbox is pin sharp, almost sensing and carrying out the changes before you have asked for them and the whole sensation of driving this car fast becomes more and more intoxicating the longer you are in it.
Inside the car is remarkably quiet for a convertible, it’s a quiet and comfortable place when you just let it all calm down. That gearbox and the insane amounts of torque mean it cruises through towns in top gear without a single whimper. Just don’t try to listen to the radio or have a conversation with anyone, because you simply won’t have managed to resist putting the exhaust to full blare and the rear window down, all you need is more of that noise.
The interior itself is as simple to use as a Ferrari can be. Moving all the indicator and wiper functions onto the wheel is still a fiddly operation, and a hard one to get used to, but the quality inside is very good. The secondary screen for the passenger to see just how hard you are pushing the 812 is perhaps a little too much of a gimmick and having Apple CarPlay only controlled through the driver’s dash is odd. But then you have a vivid yellow rev counter (just like every Ferrari should) placed right in front of you, a flat-bottomed wheel with shift lights atop and some seats that cocoon you nicely as you speed along, and all seems well. Just don’t look at the slightly knock-off looking controls for the climate control.
Technology and Features
It has a folding hard top and a massive V12 engine, do you really need anything else? If you really must then it has climate control, Apple CarPlay, LED headlights, powered and heated wing mirrors, adaptive magnetic suspension (through the legendary and still lovely to use Manettino), cruise control, massive ceramic Brembos inside those 20-inch forged wheels, Bluetooth, sat-nav and leather seats. The second screen for the passenger is an optional extra by the way.
It’s hard to get out of the 812 GTS and not just wax lyrical. It’s a droptop supercar so we should look down our noses at it, a compromise for compromise’s sake. But Ferrari has done such a good job of converting the 812 that you won’t notice the difference. Until, that is, you put the roof down, and listen to the 12-piece orchestra backing your driving operetta. The 812 GTS is the most friendly monster in the world, just super happy all the time to be driving and to be helping you drive. The fact that it manages to cosset a mediocre driver such as me to some outlandish cornering exploits without feeling so anaemic as to be a disappointment is a marvel and something of which certain brands that make supercars to top their ranges should really take notice. It turns out you can make a supercar that feels safe and friendly while also being exciting. Long live rear-wheel-drive, long live V12s and long live the front-engined Ferrari supercar.
Photography by Pete Summers.
|Engine||6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12|
|Power||800PS (599kW) @ 8,900rpm|
|Torque||717Nm (530lb ft) @ 7,000rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed, dual clutch automatic, rear-wheel-drive|
Reviewed by Ben Miles