M is for ‘modificato’ – or modified. Ferrari has used the letter as a suffix on some of the various direct and indirect predecessors of this week’s road test subject several times: on the 575M, 456M and F512M.

While the observant will have noticed that it hasn’t actually used it on the official model name of the new 812 Superfast, it has used it on the car’s internal codename. The car’s immediate predecessor, the 2012 F12 Berlinetta, was simply known as ‘F152’ to anyone personally connected to its creation; the new 812 is ‘F152M’. Which tells you a lot about what’s underneath this car, how ‘new’ it really is and how close a relationship it has to the F12.

The Superfast is in essence a widely and significantly updated version of the F12. It brings quite a substantial power hike, as well as some transmission, suspension, aerodynamic and steering revisions, to the market for front-engined ‘Super GT’ coupés, which Ferrari so famously dominated and influenced through cars such as the 250 and 275, the 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ and the 550 Maranello.

The power increase would thrust Maranello’s latest series production flagship through the ‘800’ horsepower threshold if only us Brits accounted for those horses in the same way in which they’re rounded up and numbered in mainland Europe.

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It comes courtesy of a larger-capacity V12 than the F12 Berlinetta used (and that the GTC4 still uses), and it also delivers more torque here than came with the limited-series F12tdf. The 812 gets many of the suspension, steering and aerodynamic features pioneered on the F12tdf too.

Ferrari’s aim with all of this? To send the 812’s performance benchmarks soaring even higher than the F12 Berlinetta’s were relative to those of its rivals and to give it, in Ferrari’s own words, “the most riveting and rewarding driving experience possible”.

But what are the inevitable consequences and compromises to the car’s core abilities as a distance-covering, head-scrambling, two-seater grand tourer? Stand by to find out.

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First drives

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