When Ferrari's new 740 bhp, 6262cc, 65° V12, F12berlinetta hits showrooms later this year, it will be the fastest naturally aspirated car to see series production, taking over from the McLaren F1. The replacement for the 599 is the fastest Ferrari ever and boasts an array of technologies we haven't seen before, such as Aero Bridge, Active Brake Cooling, a new generation of carbon-ceramic brakes (CCM3), a further evolution of the magnetorheological suspension control system (SCM-E) plus the usual E-Diff, ESP Premium, F1-Trac, and high-performance ABS control systems.
It's such a remarkable car in every respect that it's almost hard to know what to mention first.
The body of the Ferrari is the first thing you notice - a collaboration between the Ferrari Design Centre and Pininfarina, plus lots of time in the wind tunnel have resulted in another instant classic. The most expensive Ferrari road car available will be a very hot seller, a collector car.
Sculpting a thing of beauty in a wind tunnel must involve great difficulty, but the integration of the design process with extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and has given not just a good looking car, but one with desirable aerodynamic qualities.
Ferrari claims downforce has been increased by 76 per cent to 123 kg at 200 km/h in comparison with the 599, while aerodynamic drag has been reduced to just 0.299. Toyota claims 0.25 for the Prius and while the real number is less than 0.3, the fact remains that the Prius is slipperier than the new Ferrari.
The new aerodynamic approach uses what Ferrari terms, "Aero Bridge" technology which "uses the bonnet to generate downforce by channelling air away from the upper part of the car to its flanks where it interacts with the wake from the wheel wells to decrease drag."
The all-new spaceframe chassis and bodyshell using 12 different kinds of alloys has been a collaboration with Scaglietti, a company well known for its its expertise in lightweight metal construction. Though the alloys aren't named, Ferrari says that some are being used for the first time in an automotive application, and that new assembly and joining techniques are to be employed.
The result is a 20 per cent increase in structural rigidity and a reduction in weight to 1525 kg, 70 kg less than the previous V12 coupé, with the ideal 46% front and 54% rear weight distribution.
The F12berlinetta's 6262cc 65° V12 engine delivers unprecedented performance and revs for a naturally-aspirated 12-cylinder. Its maximum power output is 740 CV which translates to a specific output of 118 CV/l.
To find the previous record holder for naturally-aspirated vehicles, we had to go back to the 1992 McLaren F1 supercar designed by Gordon Murray.
The F1's 618 bhp V12 gave it the title of the world's fastest production car for a decade, and it still holds the non-supercharged record for production car speed. The F1's carbon fiber monocoque chassis enabled it to tip the scales ready to roll at just 1,140 kg (2,513 lb) - considerably less than the F12berlinetta's 1550 kg.
The performance figures are in the elite league, with a 0-100 km/h time of 3.1 seconds and from 0-200 km/h time of just 8.5 seconds. The F12berlinetta's V12 engine has a peak torque of 690 Nm, with 80 per cent of that torque available from 2,500 rpm to the 8,700 rpm redline, driving through an F1 dual-clutch transmission.
It also completes a lap of the Fiorano test circuit in 1'23", faster than any other Ferrari road car. The previous record for a Ferrari road car was 1'24.00 by a 599 GTO in 2010, preceded by an Enzo which went around in 1'24.90 in 2002 and a 458 Italia 1'25.00 in 2010.
The Ferrari press statement is clear about the handling of the new F12berlinetta, claiming "Benchmark performance and maximum driving involvement are guaranteed by immediate turn-in, with smaller steering wheel angles, and increased cornering speed.
The Active Brake Cooling system is another innovation first - when the carbon disks start getting past their optimum operating temperature, guide vanes are opened to the brake cooling ducts. Not surprisingly, Ferrari is claiming that braking distances have also been drastically reduced.
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