I’m not sure ‘rounded’ is how I’d put it. Stick the dampers in their ‘bumpy road’ setting and the suspension deals with motorways and well-surfaced A-roads just fine. Here, the driven axle is kept in consistent enough contact with the Tarmac to give you the confidence to begin to explore what that engine is capable of.
And, my word, it’s an incredible engine; one of such potency that forays into the bottom half of the accelerator pedal travel are rare – and call for a very deep breath. On half-throttle from town speeds, you’ll rifle through second and third gears and be going quickly enough to steady your enthusiasm before you’ve blinked. Risk a full throttle trip towards 9000rpm and you’ll be stunned by this car’s massive, linear pace – and left in awe of the musicality of its savagery.
You’re unlikely to risk those heady trips on less-than-immaculately surfaced cross-country roads, though. Even at its softest, the 812’s suspension is firm to the point that it’s a jostling, nerve-testing ride at times. Its ride and its handling are both particularly reactive over bumps taken at pace, when those enormously wide front wheels can start to tramline. At that point the car’s steering – whose directness genuinely isn’t an issue elsewhere, thanks to plenty of weight and good on-centre stability – just begins to burst your bubble. The rear suspension, meanwhile – on whose lateral stiffness the car’s super-incisive handling is built – can compound the offence by making the body fuss and fidget over the same bumps that diverted the steering an instant earlier.
Upshot? That driving an 812 Superfast down a particularly testing B-road reminds you of Owen Wilson’s Armageddon movie line; the one when he’s “not sure if he’s 98% excited and 2% scared, or if it’s the other way around”.
Seek out surfaces and journeys that suit it, however, and this car will amaze you over and over again. For handling response and turn-in incisiveness, as well as lateral grip and balance, it feels like it gives up absolutely nothing to the very best mid-engined supercars and track machines.
It’ll take further acquaintance on track to be sure about that, because you can’t get close to the 812’s limits on the road. You can, however, enjoy a sense of agility and eagerness that little else on four wheels can match. Partnered with the aforementioned performance, which is equally breathtaking for its style as for its scope, that makes for a driving experience that’ll keep you awake at night. For all of the right reasons.