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Steering, suspension and comfort

Nobody could doubt the capacity of the 812 Superfast to make your eyes widen, your pulse quicken and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end when the road under its wheels allows you to bring the best out of its dartingly direct and unapologetically lively chassis.

As you’ve already read, Ferrari’s mission was to bring the world the most “riveting and rewarding” front-engined GT car that it has ever known. It is a mission you can easily argue that it has succeeded at when you’ve sampled the car at its absolute best. But it’s come at quite a cost, because the 812 feels unusually highly strung even on fairly unchallenging roads.

Even in Ferrari’s ‘bumpy road’ damping mode, the 812 is too hyperactive away from the smoothest of surfaces for a car competing for Super GT class honours

Its steering is light, reactive and super-direct, its ride both skittish-feeling at times and sufficiently short on travel that you worry you might bottom-out on testing B-roads. And all in a car ready to oversteer in the blink of an eye, if you even think about encouraging it to do so. ‘A wild ride’ doesn’t really even begin to cover it.

The primary ride feels even firmer and more aggressive than the F12’s was – and considering that the F12 at times felt incompatible with any vaguely bumpy British road itself, that’s problematic to begin with. Even in Ferrari’s ‘bumpy road’ damping mode, the 812 gybes, oscillates and fidgets over surfaces that a Super GT ought to have the suppleness to cope with. Certain intrusions taken at speed make its suspension feel slightly wooden, and others under-damped, as it threatens to drag its underbelly through bigger compressions and over ridges.

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Those wide front tyres, meanwhile, are particularly reactive to road camber, and prone to both bump steer and tramlining on really testing B-roads. There are times, even on smooth Tarmac, when the car can test your concentration by flirting with momentary oversteer as its outside rear tyre slips on a painted road marking, or by diving one way or the other as a patch of water disturbs its stability under braking.

All of these things are reasons that the 812 Superfast might not be first choice for an idyllic holiday drive to the Cote d’Azur. At times, the car will thrill you in ways that many mid-engined supercars couldn’t reproduce. Its sheer agility and handling balance is little short of incredible, but it would make you feel slightly restive and uneasy at the wheel even on the motorway and can be fatiguing over longer stints in a way unwelcome in a Super GT.

Track use obliges the 812’s tyres and brakes to engage in a Sisyphean struggle to marshal and contain the sheer potency of its 789bhp V12 engine. For a while they enjoy some success but, at least if you give that engine its head without much consideration for the consequences, ultimately both are left in a steaming, frazzled mess.

There is more than enough power to cue up an armful of oversteer in almost any gear and cornering situation. When a slide comes, it comes quickly but the sheer directness of the car’s steering means you can apply corrections with matching speed.

Driving the car with pace and precision requires discipline, although keeping Race mode activated maintains handling stability well, at a cost of some intrusiveness. Optional track-day tyres should be available later this year; our standard-fit Pirelli P Zeros began to overheat after about five laps.