Luxe & Power Reign Supreme in Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Ferrari’s new F12 Berlinetta combines exclusive luxury with primal power — perfect for taming the wild streets of the city in comfort and style.

Getting seat time in the stunning new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta turned out to be something of a Ferrari safari. As I hunted down the company’s newest, most powerful model, the elusive beast continually eluded my grasp, with only one vehicle of its kind in all of North America. When a second arrived stateside, I finally managed to schedule a test drive in Philadelphia, slipping behind the wheel on a crisp afternoon for a few fleeting hours to cruise along the city’s quiet highways.

But being elusive and exclusive has been part of the luxury brand’s mystique for more than 80 years. One friend heard of my quest and scoffed. “Ferraris are a head game,” he said, brushing me off. But the game was certainly working on me as I arrived to pick up the F12. I was operating on only a few hours’ sleep: The previous night had been a restless one as I contemplated my turn at the wheel and rocketing into supercar nirvana.

The undulating skin of the new $350,000 F12 Berlinetta was even more breathtaking to behold in person. Designed around a monster 740-horsepower V-12, its sophisticated transaxle architecture gives this front-engine grand touring coupe road manners that are alternately relaxing and thrilling. The car is alluring even in the calm before blastoff.

Like the Formula One vehicles from which the F12 inherits its DNA and technical innovations, this is a driver-centric automobile. The cockpit is spare but super-premium, sheathed throughout in fine leather, with particularly comfy and supportive driver and passenger seats, contoured and ribbed like an exoskeleton to absorb the extreme forces this car is capable of generating. The steering wheel is clustered with fingertip controls, leaving an uncluttered view of the traditional analog gauges. It’s a perfect marriage of vintage elegance and contemporary control—a combination seen throughout this exquisite machine.

The car is alluring even in the calm before blastoff.

To make the most of the F12’s blistering power, the wheelbase has been shortened and the engine and driver seat have been lowered into the chassis. The vehicle also comes equipped with a next-generation suspension system and a seven-speed gearbox layout. Shorter, lower, and narrower than the previous Ferrari V-12 coupe, the Berlinetta comes tantalizingly close to midengine-balance perfection.

Even the sensuous curves of the F12 are engineered beyond mere beauty. Just over the engorged wheel wells, the front fenders feature integrated Aero Bridges that channel hurricane-force air from the hood down the sides, radically reducing drag as you rip along the open road.

Although the ogling of strangers as I wound through Center City’s tight blocks and powered down the straightaways of 95 South were a constant reminder of my luck, the thrall of the Ferrari legend passed fairly quickly. It was reality that held me in its sway, as I playfully launched into triple-digit sprints with ease and zoomed around corners without pitch or yaw, in absolute control of this ferocious beast.