Is Ferrari trolling the Frankfurt Motor Show? On the eve of 2019’s biggest motoring bunfight, the Italian marque has staged its own Universo Ferrari event in Maranello, revealing two new convertible supercars. Cue media meltdown.
First up is the 812 GTS, a drop-top version of the 812 Superfast. Its name references the classic 365 GTS4 (‘Daytona Spider’ to its friends) – the last Ferrari spider with a front-mounted V12, launched exactly 50 years ago.
Secondly, there’s the F8 Spider. Following in the tyre tracks of the F8 Tributo coupe, it combines a folding hard-top with the V8 engine from the 488 Pista. A scintillating soundtrack comes as standard.
We elbowed our way through the crowds outside Ferrari’s Fiorano test-track to get up close with the new cars – and speak with the experts who developed them. Here’s what you need to know.
Ferrari 812 GTS
Coolest feature of the new 812? Look closely and you’ll spot tiny aerofoils atop each of the rear buttresses. They’re part of a complex aerodynamics package that gives the GTS identical on-paper performance to the coupe. That means 0-62mph in ‘less than 3.0 seconds’ and a top speed of 211mph.
Its hard-top folds in 14 seconds at speeds up to 28mph, or you can simply retract the rear window. Either way, you’ll enjoy Ferrari’s ferociously unhinged V12 – perhaps the most evocative engine of any production car – in all its 8,900rpm glory.
And here’s the second new Ferrari of the day: the 812 GTS.
‘Grigio GTS’ paint colour and 20-inch forged alloys are unique to this car. pic.twitter.com/g0MwMO1iYE
— Tim Pitt (@timpitt100) September 9, 2019
‘Production’ is the key word here as the GTC isn’t a limited edition. “We plan to make one car less than the market demands,” says marketing boss Enrico Galliera. UK prices haven’t been announced yet, but expect an 11 percent premium versus the coupe, meaning £292,000 before options.
One of those options is the ‘Grigio GTS’ paint seen here, which is unique to the car. It also gets bespoke 20-inch forged alloy wheels, offered in three finishes: diamond-cut, liquid silver and Grigio Scuro. Choices, choices…
Head of Design Flavio Manzoni says the styling was inspired by two of Ferrari’s icons: the 250 GTO and Daytona. No pressure, then. A long bonnet and swept-back cabin evoke classic grand tourers, while those distinctive rear humps (also a feature of the F8 Spider) set the GTS apart from the Superfast. You’ll note the ducts atop the rear wheelarches are missing, too – compensated for by an extra flap in the diffuser, says Ferrari.
The heart of the 812, of course, remains that 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12. Driving the rear wheels via an paddle-shift dual-clutch gearbox, it develops 800hp at a dizzying 8,500rpm. That should serve up ample “wild power, uncompromising passion and unbeatable sensuality”, to borrow a few superlatives from Galliera.
Lastly, there’s a driver assistance system called Ferrari Power Oversteer (FPO) to help you ‘realign the car correctly’. Thank heavens for that.
Ferrari F8 Spider
The F8 Spider was less of a surprise, but is more significant in terms of sales. Arriving just months after the F8 Tributo coupe (‘berlinetta’ in Ferrari-speak), it’s said to be ‘less extreme than the 488 Pista Spider, but sportier than the 488 Spider’.
Indeed, the open-air F8 weighs just 20kg more than its Pista equivalent and packs an identical 720hp. That makes it… quite rapid. Zero to 62mph is dispatched in 2.9 seconds, while top speed is 211mph – identical to the 812 GTS.
Giallo flyer: Ferrari F8 Spider world debut in Maranello.
Car has the latest (6.1) version of Ferrari’s Sideslip Control. “This is not a stability controller, it’s a fun controller,” says chief engineer Michael Leiters. pic.twitter.com/txbuimSpXW
— Tim Pitt (@timpitt100) September 9, 2019
The car’s folding hard-top also emulates the GTS, being retracted in 14 seconds at up to 28mph. A redesigned rear spoiler wraps around trad-Ferrari twin taillights, but stowing the roof atop the rear deck means losing the coupe’s F40-style see-through engine cover.
It isn’t just any engine either. Ferrari’s sonorous turbocharged V8 has been voted International Engine of the Year four times in a row and the best engine of the past 20 years. Sampling the coupe version recently, our Richard Aucock described it as ‘ridiculously pleasurable’.
The all-important rev counter – redlined at 8,000rpm – takes centre-stage in front of the driver, with many controls, including the manettino dial, clustered on the steering wheel. There’s also an optional passenger-side touchscreen to reveal how fast you’re really going.
The electronic witchcraft of the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE) will help average drivers feel like Charles Leclerc at Monza, too. “This is not a stability controller, it’s a fun controller,” jokes Michael Leiters.
If you want one – and we really do – expect to pay around £225,000 when cars arrive in the UK this autumn. There’s still one more new car to come from Ferrari in 2019, of course, but execs remain tight-lipped. “We want to wow people,” says Enrico Galliera. They’ve certainly done that today.
In pictures: Ferrari 812 GTS and F8 Spider