Used 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
Edmunds' Expert Review
Replacing the 599 as Ferrari's flagship grand tourer, the 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is a V12-powered dynamo with an astonishing mix of performance and refinement.
How do you improve on an Italian super coupe with a 612-horsepower V12, racecar-grade handling and drive-all-day luxury? That was Ferrari's modest challenge in designing the successor to the world-beating 599. The all-new 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is what the company came up with, and there are some strong early indicators that the F12 is up to the task. Most notably, the larger-displacement V12 under the hood makes an astonishing 731 horses, the dual-clutch automated manual transmission is much smoother than the 599's single-clutch unit, and the stability-control system allows some genuine tail-out shenanigans if you want it to, without shirking its duty to keep you on the road.
The F12's cabin technology also constitutes a significant upgrade. The Berlinetta boasts two high-resolution, multifunction displays that surround the center-mounted tachometer in the gauge cluster. The ergonomics are far from perfect -- each screen has a dedicated control pod that's mounted below the cluster, making on-the-fly adjustments an iffy proposition -- but the execution is worlds better than what the 599 got away with. Ferrari also offers intriguing add-ons like a passenger-side performance display (including current gear, speed and rpm) and a telemetry suite that can be paired with onboard video for full track-day recording and analysis.
So what's not to like? Well, the robust demand for used Ferraris tells us there are plenty of enthusiasts out there who enjoy a manual transmission, yet the F12 Berlinetta doesn't offer one at all, distancing itself from the 599 and its standard six-speed manual. Additionally, the F12's styling may leave something to be desired, from the odd aerodynamic squiggle along the side panels to the perhaps uncomfortably Corvette-like nose and profile. We'd also like to see a more exclusive interior, as some of the Berlinetta's knobs and buttons seem rather generic by the standards of cars that cost as much as a respectable house.
But considering that the F12 is the most powerful road-going Ferrari ever (aside from the limited-production LaFerrari), you might be willing to forgive these foibles. While you're mulling it over, we recommend sampling the wares of the midengine 2013 Lamborghini Aventador, which has a stiffer ride but packs a 690-hp V12 and a dynamic, sophisticated interior. If truly exotic styling is what you're after, the Lambo will be hard to resist. But if you're looking for a civilized blend of capability and comfort, the 2013 F12 Berlinetta is as good as it gets.
Trim levels & features
The 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is a two-seat exotic sports car available solely as a coupe.
Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, adaptive magnetorheological suspension dampers, carbon-ceramic brakes, adaptive automatic xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, adjustable driving and vehicle settings, keyless entry, push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, metallic interior accents, a multifunction flat-bottomed steering wheel with manual tilt-and-telescoping functions, partial power seats, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a navigation system, a six-speaker audio system and voice controls.
Options are extensive and include many different paint colors and types plus forged alloy wheels, a height-adjustable suspension, carbon-fiber exterior trim, front and rear parking cameras, a power-adjustable steering column, full power seats, fitted carbon-fiber race seats (offered in three sizes), extended leather and synthetic suede (Alcantara) interior trim, carbon-fiber inlays, a 12-speaker JBL Professional audio system, a digital passenger-side instrument display, a fire extinguisher and Ferrari Telemetry with an available video camera.
Performance & mpg
The rear-wheel-drive 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is propelled by a 6.3-liter V12 engine rated at 731 hp and 508 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual with paddle shifters and launch control. Ferrari reports that the F12 needs just 3.1 seconds to hit 60 mph, racing onward to a stunning top speed of 211 mph.
The EPA estimates that the F12 Berlinetta will return 13 mpg combined (11 city/16 highway), improving to 12 mpg city (but keeping the same ratings otherwise) with the available auto stop-start system.
Standard safety equipment for the 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta includes antilock carbon-ceramic disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear parking sensors and side airbags. Front and rear parking cameras are optional.
The F12 Berlinetta's adaptive suspension dampers provide a ride for every occasion. In normal driving, they soak up pavement imperfections with remarkable ease, giving the F12 true daily-driver potential. But when the mood strikes, you can tap the suspension button on the steering wheel and transform the car into an invincible cornering machine. Contributing to this are the multistage stability control system and the "E-Diff" electronic limited-slip differential, which team up to facilitate enthusiastic driving like never before in a Ferrari V12 touring coupe. The ultra-quick steering demands respect, though. A little input goes a long way.
Of course, the Berlinetta's engine will be the main draw for many buyers. With automakers increasingly turning to turbochargers in order to improve fuel economy, a brand-new naturally aspirated V12 is a special treat indeed. The revs come so fast that it's a challenge to upshift before you hit the 8,700-rpm fuel cutoff, but there's also plenty of roll-on power at lower engine speeds. The soundtrack at full throttle is spine-tingling, and the seven-speed automated manual transmission ensures that every shift is smooth and instantaneous.
The F12 Berlinetta's cabin is certainly a step up from the generic layout of the 599. Materials quality has improved, and the dashboard's subtle contours produce a suitably driver-centric feel. A thin "floating" panel on the center console gives the transmission buttons a fashionable place to live, while the optional passenger performance display lets your copilot keep tabs on the current gear, speed and rpm. The thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel has been entrusted with many more functions than the 599's tiller, carrying over the familiar manettino drive-mode selector and adding controls for the turn signals, headlights, windshield washers and suspension dampers.
Certain items, such as the climate control knobs, still seem a bit uninspired for this price range. The seats, on the other hand, are exquisite, whether you stick with one of the standard designs or opt for the fitted carbon-fiber race seats (available in small, medium or large). The F12's twin high-resolution digital displays are another highlight: Flanking the tachometer, with infotainment functions on the right and vehicle information on the left, they lend a contemporary, high-tech air to the proceedings. On the downside, these screens are accessed via two separate control pods that sit behind the steering wheel and don't lend themselves to quick adjustments on the fly.
The F12's hatchback trunk is equipped with a hinged partition that, when it's in place, prevents cargo from flying forward. Standard capacity is 11.3 cubic feet, growing to 17.7 cubes with the partition swung out of the way.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
It wasn't a scream, or even a stifled shout. To be honest, it wasn't much more than a yelp from the passenger seat, but it was all I needed to assure myself that it wasn't just me. Despite all that's been written about the 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta since it was unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March, I wasn't the only one to be reduced to involuntary oral emissions on experiencing its full force for the first time.
The F12 isn't just an extraordinary device compared to normal cars; it's on another level even by the standards of Ferrari's very fastest street machines. It's much more than just numbers, but is still worth noting some of its more prominent specifications.
It has a 6.3-liter V12 motor producing 730 horsepower, nearly 120 hp more than the Ferrari 599 GTB it replaces. Then consider that it's also 129 pounds lighter. Forget the 3.1-second 0-62-mph time; it's a meaningless, traction-limited statistic. Focus instead on the 0-124 mph time of 8.5 seconds, which is quicker than a McLaren F1. No wonder my passenger yelped.
Putting the Power Down
To me the question in greatest need of an answer was just how do you put 730 hp through the rear wheels of a car and still end up with something that will actually work as a practical, effective, everyday car? It's important, as Ferrari estimates that one in five customers will use their F12s as daily drivers.
You won't find the answer on the spec sheet. Naturally Ferrari has aimed all its technological firepower at this car, from its carbon-ceramic brake discs and double-clutch gearbox to its electronically controlled differential and electronic dampers. But other Ferraris get those, too. With the F12, the devil is in the details.
Consider this: Despite the engine being in the nose, the F12's weight distribution is actually rear-biased to the tune of 54 percent. But Ferrari also has a completely new design for the rear suspension compared to the 599 and has just completed an exhaustive tire development program with Michelin, Pirelli and Bridgestone. The result, says test and development driver Raffaele di Simone, is a car that's "much faster than the 599, but easier, too." We shall see.
Getting Slowly Underway
Rolling south out of Maranello in heavy traffic, I'm heading for hills once used by Enzo himself to test his cars and plied by generations of Ferrari test-drivers for decades since.
For now though, the 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is a model citizen. You wouldn't call the ride good, but it's good enough: firm but sufficiently well damped to soak up the worst of these poorly surfaced streets. The car is quiet, too, even on the autostrada at speeds I'd never own up to in public. So long as you hold the throttle steady, the F12 is commendably, surprisingly civilized. How Ferrari has persuaded a 730-hp motor to shut up like that is not known, but it's an admirable achievement.
The route into the hills spears off the main arterial road so we go from traffic jam to automotive heaven on earth in a few seconds. The time for full experience immersion has arrived.
At first the F12 seems shockingly, violently fast, almost uncontainable on these narrow lanes. That's when and why my co-pilot yelped. The engine is inexorable, building performance in layers but with gear ratios close enough that, if you so choose, you need never sink below 6,000 rpm. That's the point at which the thrust moves to the outer edges of what conventional road cars can do. For a moment I question the wisdom again: Can this really make sense? Can you really deploy 730 hp through the rear wheels of a car designed for everyday use?
Getting Used to 730 Horsepower
In fact you can. Formula 1 drivers will tell you that when they return to their racecar after the winter break, the machine feels so fast they wonder how it can be managed. And then, within a one-hour session, they'll be telling their race engineers the car is so slow it can barely get out of its own way. In a similar way, we acclimatize to the F12's speed.
The car helps out considerably in that regard. It's a much more stable platform than a 599 GTB so it feels even smaller relative to its predecessor than it actually is. And you can leave the little manettino controller in Sport or Race and be reassured it will never deploy more power that those hard-pressed rear tires can cope with. The traction is something to behold, as it gets out of corners almost as fast as the expletives get out of your mouth.
Yet there's a problem here. Ferrari makes much of the fact that the F12 has not only a shorter wheelbase than the 599, it's also got much faster steering. I don't remember ever driving a 599 and thinking its steering was in any way sluggish, but I'll now always wish the F12's helm wasn't quite so aggressive.
The car moves too much for any given steering input, making it seem darty and nervous. You have to concentrate on being absolutely precise with it, and should the car start to oversteer, which it will obviously do rather easily with the electronics off, you need to be very accurate with your correction. Slowing the steering would widen that window of retrieval and make the car more, not less, fun to drive.
Again, you get used to it but I found that the best way to drive it was without the electronics, but as cleanly as I could. Then you realize the feel from the chassis itself is sublime, and that the car can be balanced in wonderful neutrality, right on or slightly beyond the technical limit of adhesion without a corrective input worthy of a mention.
Less Remarkable Inside
Compared to its performance, the cabin of the 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is much less revolutionary. Quite the reverse. In fact, its dashboard architecture and execution is very similar to that of a Ferrari 458, which is, of course, a far cheaper car. There's nothing here to say this car is different, even from any other Ferrari. A certain sense of occasion is undoubtedly lacking.
That said, it's perfectly comfortable in here. The F12 is actually a smaller car than the 599 in all three dimensions, but Ferrari insists that passenger space has not changed. I don't like the steering wheel bristling with buttons any more in the F12 than I did in the 458, but at least the TFT instrument graphics are similarly clear and easy to read.
And while there's not much space in the cabin for the everyday accoutrements of life, the trunk is surprisingly big. Remove the dividing shelf and use the space behind the rear seats and it's downright practical. This, in the most powerful Ferrari ever.
A Landmark Ferrari?
Ferrari describes the F12 Berlinetta as a breakthrough car and, in the context of its previous front-engined, V12 two-seat sports cars, it's a fair contention. Even if you extend your search past the 599 GTB and other mainstream Ferrari product to esoterica such as the 599 GTO and even the Enzo, you'll find nothing this powerful, nor so fast from one point to the next.
All of which is highly impressive, but not actually this car's greatest achievement. It's the F12's ability to offer extreme performance while at the same time possessing greater grand touring credentials than many GTs that makes it so incredible.
It's not Ferrari's most exciting car — for me that remains the F40 by a distance — but surely its most capable yet. In short, the 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is one hell of an achievement.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Overview
The Used 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is offered in the following submodels: F12 Berlinetta Coupe. Available styles include 2dr Coupe (6.3L 12cyl 7AM).
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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.