Gently, we move forward. Nothing scary, just letting the car drive itself with the Getrag gearbox changing up rapidly until the digital readout on the dash indicates that we’re travelling at 40km/h… in 7th gear. That’s just crazy and highlights the torque of the V12 as well as explaining somewhat the Ferrari’s combined fuel cycle consumption of 14.9 l/100km – about the same as my Jeep Wrangler. So, in Auto/Sport mode, the fastest and most powerful Ferrari yet is as easy and predictable to drive as family saloon; all you have to do is point the steering wheel where you want to go – and right now, I want to go to somewhere a little less busy than Al Quoz.
If you pop Dubai into Google Maps and scroll down, you’ll notice that once you get into the desert, there are a lot of empty stretches of straight road, many of which don’t actually go anywhere, they just end abruptly with a concrete barrier before miles of sand dunes. And it’s to one particular stretch that I’m heading now.
Dropping the windows, the massive air vents (which look like they’ve been stolen from the back of a MiG 29) throw out more than enough cold air to keep me cool in the 40 degree heat. Still in Auto, I nip around the back streets of Al Quoz, slowly adding tiny amounts of pressure to the accelerator. At these low speeds, the V12’s torque means you can waft about, almost Rolls- Royce style, as the engine isn’t being remotely stressed. It’s a strange feeling at cruise speed, it’s like there’s nothing mechanical at the end of the gas pedal – just some sort of nuclear reactor that is hardly being used and has an awful lot of power still left in reserve.
On the gentle drive up towards Al Qudra, I get a chance to take in my surroundings, which are unmistakably Ferrari. In here, the steering wheel is the focal point, as this is where you change gear, and choose your performance settings. I’ve got a V12 in front of me and the windows down, so I have no idea if the 812 has any sort of entertainment system, I can’t see any speakers and to be honest, I don’t care – my ‘driving playlist’ will be remaining in my iPhone. At this moment, I have to point out the leather seats. Initially they don’t appear to be that supportive and you sit on them rather than in them, but this makes them extremely comfortable for long journeys and also it opens up the 812 to all sizes – space isn’t an issue in this two seater.
It’s like there’s nothing mechanical at the end of the gas pedal - just some sort of nuclear reactor that is hardly being used and has an awful lot of power still left in reserve.
But now the Auto mode is starting to grate me, it’s perfect for sitting in rush hour traffic and navigating the back roads of Al Quoz, but its eagerness to save fuel and get into 7th gear as soon as possible isn’t what this car is really about.
As the last Land Cruisers disappear into the heat haze and the desert roads empty I press Auto, but this time to disengage it and now my left and right fingertips are in full control of those seven gears. I turn the steering wheel selector to Race, flick down into second gear and well… there’s not a word in the English language that best describes the experience of an 812 Superfast accelerating through the gears in maximum attack mode. The word isn’t violent, as the Ferrari, despite howling like an old V12 Formula 1 car as it climbs the rev range, feels taught, safe and firmly planted to the desert tarmac; the 315/35xZR20 rear tyres seemingly unstressed by the 800bhp and 529 ft/lb of torque being transmitted through them. I guess brutal is the best word to describe an angry 812. The change from second to third to fourth happens in seconds, with the warning lights in the steering wheel flashing from red to blue as you reach the 8,900rpm redline. This naturally aspirated engine is not of this earth. It feels like it’s got a pair of big turbos bolted onto it, such is the relentless power delivery, which is eerily unstressed. This makes for some effortless high speed driving and also cements the 812 as possibly the greatest GT car on the planet.
There’s not a word in the English language that best describes the experience of an 812 accelerating through the gears in maximum attack mode.
So, as I respectfully let the Superfast cool down with a relaxed cruise along an empty Lehab to Jebel Ali highway, can I say that I tamed the most powerful Ferrari ever built? No, not really. The 812 allowed me to drive it, but no matter what I did, it had plenty in reserve. This is highlighted every time I enthusiastically take on one of the wide, open roundabouts on the E77: the four wheel steering and a huge amount of triple word electronic wizardry (FPP, FPO, ESP, EPS, PCV, SSC) keep it flat, fast and unshakable. Few cars can match the 812’s all-round capabilities and despite it’s massive power output, it never feels intimidating. It’s fair to say, the Ferrari 812 Superfast is one of the greatest automobiles ever made and raises the supercar benchmark to another level.