comfort for four
and a Prancing Horse
on the grille.
Could you really wish
for anything more?
IMAGINE YOU HAVE £180,000 burning a hole in your pocket. You also have an
abiding penchant for pedigree automotive machinery, and you're hooked
on the adrenaline rush that only very serious horsepower can satisfy. Oh, and
you've got to have a car that will take three adult passengers in comfort
even if they can't always be female and blonde. Could there possibly
be anything that solves your problem? The answer may surprise you it's
made by Ferrari, and it's the 612 Scaglietti.
12-cylinder Grand Tourers like the avant-garde 612 are a long-established tradition
for Ferrari. With a lineage stretching back to 1948 and the 166, the models
have evolved through the 250GT, 330GT and 365GT in the Sixties right up to the
456M of the Nineties.
The latest in this tradition is the 612 Scaglietti, which is the first 12-cylinder
Ferrari to be built entirely out of lightweight aluminium the spaceframe
and the entire body including the bonnet, boot lid and doors. Sergio Scaglietti,
a Modenese coachbuilder who worked closely with Enzo Ferrari in the early years,
excelled in the art of sculpting aluminium bodies and created some of the most
magnificent road and racing cars ever made. And it is in his honour that the
612 bears the Scaglietti name.
Ferrari's decision to go for an all-aluminium chassis and body was based on
a desire for the type of construction able to provide three critical qualities
in one namely a light, rigid structure guaranteeing low weight, great
dynamic handling and passenger safety.
The two-door body was designed by Pininfarina to skin a cabin capable of accommodating
four occupants while clothing the heart, sinews and automotive architecture
of an excitingly nimble, sporting, front-engined rear-wheel drive berlinetta.
In case you're wondering, the '6' of the '612' indicates the Scaglietti's engine
displacement (5,748cc, rounded up), while the '12' is the number of cylinders
configured in a classic 65-degree 'V'. And, as we're talking figures, let's
throw in a few more. Such as 199, the 612's top speed in miles per hour. And
532, the brake horsepower at 7,250 revs. There's also 433.8, the Scaglietti's
torque in lb ft, and 4.2, the number of seconds it takes to hit 62mph from standstill.
As you study the 612, you can see that the result is a look that's both imperious
and elegant. It is a look that trumpets the 612's long wheelbase, 'cab-rear'
layout and nominal overhangs. The initial most striking feature is perhaps the
long, aerodynamic bonnet, boldly defined by the sharp-edged metal creases that
delineate the aggressively-gaping grille. Continuing through the transparent
covers of the Xenon projector headlights, the lines flow along the crown of
the front wings and continue into the swept back screen pillars. Even then Pininfarina
is not finished. Your eye and your attention are still drawn enticingly over
the shapely roof to the Scaglietti's pleasing flanks. Everyone stares
at the 612. We soon got used to people snapping the Scaglietti with their cameras
Nose-to-tail, the 612 measures one inch over sixteen feet and takes up a six-foot-five-inch-wide
swathe of road. Gallantly evoking the celebrated 375 MM built for the film director
Roberto Rossellini as a gift for his wife Ingrid Bergman, the scalloped sides
endow the Scaglietti with aerodynamic elegance. The 'Bergman' treatment works
particularly well when viewed from the rear three-quarters, balanced by the
two classic Ferrari circular rear lights and twin tail pipes.
If there's the slightest drop of red blood in your veins, you'll be itching
to wrap your fingers around the slim-rimmed, perforated leather-clad steering
wheel. So hook your fingertip under the shell-shaped release latch, swing
open the door and drop into the snug comfort of the hand-stitched leather seat.
Both front seats adjust in every direction at the touch of a switch. Both also
have three memory settings, the driver's incorporating personalised mirror and
electrically-controlled reach-and-rake for the steering. And there's three-level
seat heating that warms your back in all the right places.
Behind are two more individual body-hugging seats, easily reached thanks to
an 'easy entry-exit' switch which lowers the front seat and its headrest and
slides it forward. All four seats are beautifully formed and contoured
and every bit as comfortable as they look. For even greater convenience the
seatbelts are 'on board' appended to the seat structure beside the integral
headrest. An example of the attention to detail, it also makes access easier
for back seat passengers.
you're crossing continents at high speed or simply getting from A to B in an
urban area, the back seats most certainly do not have a 'second class passenger'
feel. On several longish journeys one trip with two six-footers travelling
in the rear there was not one sniff of criticism.
With a Prancing Horse emblem gracing the boss, the steering wheel feels totally
right in your hands. It's classy and functional in equal measure and contains
buttons that operate the Sport mode, the stability and traction control system
and the digital display.
Not surprisingly, the 612's sporty and sophisticated interior takes some beating.
The cabin's aluminium detailing on the dashboard, eyeball air vents,
knurled climate control knobs, seat and door handles, the large brake and accelerator
pedals and even the milled tip of the wiper stalk smartly complements
the swathes of rich, tan-coloured hide. Even the seat belt arms are sheathed
in matching soft leather. Black hide clothes the whole width of the dash top
and hooded instrument cowl. More perforated and comfortably non-slip
is wrapped around the steering wheel and the handbrake grip.
A delightful touch is the small Prancing Horse emblem stamped into the black
metal centre boss of the eye-ball air vents, the outer aluminium rims of which
are rotated clockwise or anti-clockwise to turn on or shut off the air flow.
Dual-zone automatic climate control regulates in-car temperature, humidity and
ventilation levels, so the front passenger and driver can each enjoy their own
individual temperature and air flow preferences.
A cutting-edge, six-channel digital sound system, developed especially for the
612 by Bose, offers the kind of quality found in a top-flight home entertainment
centre. Audiophiles will be pleased to know that the system boasts three tweeters
on the dash, two woofers and two tweeters on the sides of the rear seats, one
amplified 100-watt bass box in the front and one 100-watt 250mm-diameter amplified
subwoofer at head level. A microphone in the roof controls the Audio Pilot,
which automatically equalises the sound if it senses other background noise
or disturbance. A compartment on the centre stack holds four CDs, with six more
in the auto-stacker in the boot. Other handy features include drive-off locking,
fold-back door mirrors, auto-switched lights and rain-sensing wipers.
Cabin practicality is addressed by various storage areas throughout the interior,
while the 240-litre (8.75 cu ft) boot is supplemented by an additional underfloor
storage well where the spare would normally be housed. However, given that the
612 runs 18-inch rims at the front and 19-inch at the back, a special repair
and wheel inflation kit comes as standard. There's also a lovely Ferrari tool
kit and spare bulbs and fuses in a bespoke leather satchel. Should you wish
to maximise storage, you can specify the optional and exclusive six-piece luggage
set designed by Pininfarina especially for the 612's boot.
Red-lined at 7,400, the bold black-on-yellow rev-counter dominates the instrumentation
this is a Ferrari, after all! and is flanked by a smaller
diameter, 220mph speedometer and a five-inch, multi-function TFT screen that
shows everything from days/miles to the next service, coolant temperature, oil
temperature/pressure, fuel level, outside temperature and trip and mileage data
to the current road speed figure. The analogue dials have red needles and large
numerals; the digital screen's black-on-pale blue display is equally clear.
A dedicated digital 'window' in the lower right quadrant of the rev-counter
displays the selected gear and drive mode.
A small T-bar for selecting reverse gear along with buttons to engage
a 'winter' program for slippery conditions and the Auto mode is housed
on the central tunnel where you'd find the standard six-speed gear lever if
your 612 isn't fitted with the Formula 1-derived F1A gearbox. Reverse gear is
engaged by lifting and moving the T-bar an inch towards the rear of the car.
Alternatively, pushing it forwards will give you 1st or Auto mode D. At night,
the T-bar panel is lit by non-distracting diffused light from downlighters sited
above the rearview mirror.
Cover the chunky, drilled-aluminium footbrake, twist the key and the normally-aspirated
V12 comes alive with a throaty, hard-edged crackle. It is in that moment that
you're vividly reminded that each 612 engine is lovingly hand-assembled by one
man. Select first gear by briefly pulling back on the right gear shift paddle
immediately behind the steering wheel it requires only light pressure
and feed in the power. Step off is uncannily smooth, acceleration to
the next up-shift point breathtakingly linear.
With genuine supercar power, searing acceleration and a 199mph top speed achievable
on demand from the 5.7-litre V12 you might expect the 612 to be something of
a brute, laying in wait to catch you out when least expected. Absolutely not.
In Auto mode the Scaglietti will trickle along nonchalantly in city traffic,
the electronic wizardry taking care of the clutch work and gear-changing, even
adding a polished double-declutch throttle blip on the downshifts. And, such
is the V12's mountainous tractability, walking-pace to warp speed acceleration
is always there for the taking.
This would be as good a place as any to mention fuel consumption. Actually,
all things being equal, it's pretty good. We averaged 13.4 overall, with 20mpg
on runs. Ferrari's official figures are 8.8mpg urban, 13.6 combined and 20.2mpg
extra urban. The 612's tank holds 23.75 gallons, and if you can afford the car
you can certainly afford the fuel. Judged on a smile-per-gallon basis, the Scaglietti
has to be one of the most rewarding cars to tank up that you can buy!
Pushing the Auto button again will return you to manual mode, where perfect
up and down gear changes are performed on command with a light pull-back on
the cool aluminium paddles right side for changing up; left for changing
down. Full-bore upshifts are agreeably muscular; downshifts perfectly rev-matched.
In manual mode, shifts up are made automatically when the engine reaches the
rev limit. The FIA gearbox will also downshift automatically if you haven't
already when it senses a gear is too high for the engine speed, such
as at junctions and crawling along in traffic. Come to a halt and it selects
first gear. Whichever mode you choose, the 612's ride is connected and composed.
The actively-damped double wishbone suspension at all four corners filters out
the myriad intrusions of far-from-perfect roads with aplomb.
Point the 612's nose at serious twists and turns and it responds fluidly, unhindered
by its five-metre length as it scythes through the bends. The front mid-engine
layout delivers pliant handling, and power is laid down through the rear wheels
cleanly and without fuss. Impressively so. Push the steering wheel-mounted Sport
button and the Scaglietti sexes up: the electronically-damped suspension feels
more resolute, the V12 responds quicker to the accelerator, the paddle-shifted
gear changes become even faster taking just 150 milliseconds and
the CST 'backs off', the threshold at which it will intervene markedly reduced.
The first time you feel this 'urgency' you begin to truly appreciate the calibre
of the thoroughbred machine you're fortunate enough to be driving.
Light, direct and well-connected, the 612's speed-sensitive steering is confidence-inspiring,
reacting best to calm, measured inputs from the driver. Like a well-schooled
horse, the 612 responds to a firm but sensitive guiding hand. And is as equally
rewarding. Ferrari's CST stability and traction control system, fitted for the
first time in a car bearing the Prancing Horse, is a welcome power behind the
throne. Indulgently reticent about tempering your enjoyment, it nevertheless
intercedes with expertise when it's time to lend a hand, adding a reassuring
layer of security that's certainly not unwelcome in a car capable of such rocket-ship
Mechanical traction is immense, as is the sheer physical grip from the substantial
Pirelli P Zero tyres (245/45 18-inch up front and 285/40 19s at the back, all
mounted on graceful, five-spoke forged aluminium rims) the result of
a great deal of hard work both on the road and on the Fiorano circuit. Even
more commendable is the degree of comfort the P Zeros afford even in sporty
With a low centre of gravity and a 46 per cent front to 54 per cent rear weight
distribution made possible by mounting the engine behind the front axle
and locating the gearbox in unit with the differential at the rear and fitting
the petrol tank over the rear axle the 612 has been engineered to handle
neutrally. So much so you could be forgiven for thinking that the stability
control system is unnecessary. Drive it confidently without ego and the Scaglietti
is quick, tidy and safe and rock steady at three-figure speeds. A word to the
inexperienced: 532bhp that's more than any other road-going Ferrari,
bar the Enzo demands more than a token respect, whoever you are.
Unleash all of the 612's firepower and the V12 yowls in a manner that you can
actually feel resonate physically through your body as clearly as the engine's
mechanical soundtrack playing through the quad tail pipes. It takes a few days
behind the wheel of a 612 before you begin to grasp just how awesomely
capable it is, possessing levels of all-round performance that make other four-seater
GTs seem tame.
Fortunately, the Scaglietti's ABS brakes have more than enough 'stop' in them
to counter the torrents of 'go' generated by the fiery V12. Discs are drilled
and ventilated, 345mm at the front and 330mm at the rear. Initial take-up is
relatively light but when they bite the four-pot Brembo brakes are tenacious,
delivering unwavering fade-free stopping power of the seatbelt biting
into your shoulder kind whenever you need it.
The 612 is not the kind of car that gets you thinking about accidents but it's
nice to know that, right from its conception, safety was an integral part of
the Scaglietti's development process. Thanks to its state-of-the-art, all-aluminium
construction, its chassis and bodywork significantly exceed current international
standards and cover many collision configurations which have yet to be applied.
While Ferrari's own frontal impact crash tests were performed in line with the
new offset standard with a deformable barrier at 64km/h, they were done at 8km/h
faster than the current requirement. Even then, deformation of the cabin and
steering wheel intrusion were very slight. The rear impact tests were performed
at 80km/h (that's 30km/h faster than the norm) with equally positive results.
In fact, the standards Ferrari has applied will not even come into force in
the United States for at least another four years.
Particular attention was also paid to side impacts. The specially dimensioned
structure of the 612's doors and A- and C-posts are 50 per cent more resistant
to cabin intrusion. Overall, the 612 Scaglietti has the added bonus of offering
exceptionally-high occupant protection even without the use of side air bags
although, naturally, occupant protection is completed by the adoption
of highly innovative restraint systems that include two-stage front airbags.
These automatically adapt their inflation rate to the severity of any collision
and are designed to provide optimal protection even when the occupants are not
in the correct position. Special sensors in the engine compartment can recognise
a violent deceleration signalling that a collision may be about to happen and
thus 'alert' the airbag system. The Scaglietti also offers highly adaptable
seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters as well as Isofix on the rear
seats so that child seats can be used with full confidence and in perfect safety.
Stating the obvious, the 612 also offers an exceptionally high standard of active
safety courtesy of its exceptional chassis characteristics, architecture, sophisticated
Skyhook suspension and stability, traction control and braking systems.
Okay, so you've spent exactly £177,500 on a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Sounds good,
but exactly what have you got to show for it?
Obviously, with very limited numbers coming to the UK, your money has bought
you both exclusivity and automotive A-list cachet. More to the point, it has
bought you a fabulous driving machine that manages to be a thrilling and staggeringly
rapid sports car while providing the genuine comfort and accommodation of a
four-seater Grand Tourer.
Even more extraordinary, it's an accessible everyday supercar that can be driven
and enjoyed with simple pleasure at eight-tenths of its vast potential. And
even those awesome final two-tenths require nothing more taxing than cosy familiarity.
Whoever it was who said money couldn't buy you happiness clearly didn't have
quite enough to buy a 612 Scaglietti! MotorBar
612 Scaglietti F1A | £177,500
Maximum speed: 199+mph | 0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Overall test MPG: 13.4mpg | Power: 532bhp | Torque: 434lb ft
------------------------------------------------------------- Ferrari 612 Scaglietti