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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

If there were more than five stars available here, we’d have awarded them. Given the increasingly prevalent fascination with turbochargers and electric motor assistance, there’s a splendidly old-school decadence about a naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12 that revs to the moon.

Across the industry, only Lamborghini’s and Aston Martin’s V12s are anything like it. Even then, the F12’s engine feels in a class of one in combining top-end power with low-end tractability. It is more alert and responsive than any other large-capacity engine in recent memory.

Ferrari has kept the brake and accelerator pedals a respectful distance apart, which is appropriate for a car in which you would not want to mistake them

The figures tell most of the story. The 731bhp peak is at 8250rpm, with the more modest 509lb ft torque peak appearing at a still-heady 6000rpm (just 750rpm shy of where peak power is delivered in Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage S).

It used to be said that when you bought a Ferrari, you paid for the engine and got a car thrown in free. Not quite how it feels today, but there’s no doubt that the F12’s powertrain is its stand-out feature.

Against the clock? A slight rearward weight bias and an effective launch control system meant the F12 hit 60mph in 3.0sec precisely, before going on to pass 100mph in 6.5sec. Among the other road cars that we have tested, only a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport provides a genuine benchmark.

Accelerate in the right gear from 30mph and just 2.3sec later an F12 will pass 70mph. In fourth, a gear that can be engaged at under 30mph yet take you to the other side of 120mph, that time is still only 4.6sec. At its peak, the Ferrari will hit 211mph.

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In an F12, you will never yearn for more power, nor for a faster, better gearshift: its dual-clutch unit is first class in its speed and smoothness. Although Ferrari has taken the F12 and tweaked the recipe, producing the F12tdf which gives it 770bhp, but alters the character drastically.