Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Ferrari V12 GT Spied In Maranello [UPDATED]

Nope, that's definitely not a 456M with a raincoat on...
Believe it or not, the Ferrari F599 GTB Fiorano (or 599 for short) has been around since 2006. While various editions have kept it fresh in our minds - the hardcore 661bhp GTO, the 599XX semi-racer, the SA Aperta open-top version, and who can forget the 2009 HGTE handling pack? - the new FF shooting brake and younger rivals are necessitating its replacement, which has just been spied exiting the main gate at Maranello. Y'know, right where there are signs showing "NO PHOTOGRAPHY". Assuming the mystery spy obeyed the signs, I hope these incredibly realistic paintings are accurate...

The 599 was so-called because it had a 5.9-litre engine very closely related to the engine used in the one-day legendary Enzo Ferrari from 2004. Going by that rule, the next car could be called the '630', as it is suggested that it will be based on the FF and will share its 6.3-litre V12 engine (yay) and 7-speed DCT (boo). People who know about these things suggest that Ferrari will gift this more conventionally-bodied, rear-wheel-drive GT with an extra 40 horsepower over the all-wheel-drive shooting brake FF, making 710PS, or 700bhp.

The next V12 GT from Ferrari, codenamed F152 (because codenames are always sexy like that), could potentially buck the trend for carbon fibre bodies - as you find on the Lamborghini Aventador and McLaren MP4-12C - by sticking with good old-fashioned aluminium, because of the "lack of significant weight savings provided and very high collision repair costs involved. Therefore, the high construction costs exceed the benefit of using the composite material." Well, it has come from the prancing horse's mouth before that they will stick with aluminium while they're still getting great results. What's more, aluminium can be hand-beaten into wonderful shapes such as the Aston Martin One-77, so it might well be a looker. That said, if it takes styling inspiration from the creepy smiling FF as well as the chassis and engine, it might not...

For sure, it will look different to the 599. That was designed by Frank Stephenson (whose CV includes the McLaren F1) and Jason Castriota (whose CV includes the Maserati GranTurismo), neither of whom work at Pininfarina anymore. Castriota went to work at Stile Bertone and Stephenson went to work for McLaren again, doing the poorly-named MP4-12C.

Hopefully, whatever it looks like, it won't have an identity crisis. When you think "front-engined V12 Ferrari", you are presented by your car-loving brain by the likes of the 250 GT, 275 GTB, 365 GTB/4 "Daytona", 456 GT, 550 (or 575) Maranello, and the brilliant but questionable-looking 612 Scaglietti. Some of those are four-seaters, and some (like the Daytona) are two-seaters, so, as is the way in this modern world, Ferrari now offers both kinds of GT to customers, with the FF replacing the 612 (aren't these names so memorable?) as the four-seater with some family values. For instance, it's probably the first car in Ferrari's 65-year history with folding rear seats. Or, if you prefer, the first hatchback with folding rear seats and a full-sized V12 under the bonnet. While the 612 was the comfy GT (think DB9), the 599 was a harder, more aggressive take on the genre (think DBS), but because it still had a luxo interior, it was weighed down quite a lot compared to other two-seat super coupés, and with 612bhp throwing the weight around it could be quite a handful with the electronic aids turned off. And by handful I mean killing machine. But hey, it can get to 100mph in 8 seconds.

This time, with the FF taking care of comfort, the "630" can focus on being the fastest V12 coupé in the world, I reckon. It should be agile and balanced like the Lexus LFA, not madly wayward like an AMG SLS. Hopefully they can apply all the research they've gained from the 599XX Programme (where you spend €1m to be a guinea pig and drive a ridiculously powerful experimental semi-race car at selected events), and the subsequent 599XX Evo, which features active aerodynamics, like the Pagani Huayra I pined for in my second ever post. If it has the looks to back it up (not entirely likely) and continues to have the most advanced and intelligent driver-aid software (entirely likely), it should be a devastatingly fast car with 700bhp and a Ferrari that, like the 458 Italia, can go on your bedroom wall with pride like its recent predecessors couldn't.

The Ferrari Codename F152 will get the full reveal - and a real name - at the Geneva Motor Show this March. Stay tuned for highlights of the current show in Detroit, and swing on by in a couple of months for this and many more cars making their début at the première European motor show, such as the great new Dacia Lodgy two posts down.

Source: WorldCarFans

EDIT (13/1/12): A video has appeared. It seems the paintings are accurate.

Sounds like the current V12 to me.

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