Cars

With its top up or down, the elegance of the 812 GTS lies in its ideal proportions <em>Photo: Richard Pardon</em>

Surround sound

The first spider of its kind since 1969, the 812 GTS is both a convertible and a road-eating coupé
Words

Chris Rees

Driving a sports car with the roof down brings a rich symphony of sensations: air brushing your skin, sun on your face, smells of the passing landscape. But the one thing that defines it above all is the sound. And sound is where the new Ferrari 812 GTS provokes the strongest emotions. It offers something special in the world of open-top sports cars: a V12 engine. As Michael Leiters, Ferrari Chief Technical Officer, says: “It’s 100 per cent in line with the DNA of the 812 Superfast; maybe even more because you have the V12 feeling in a front-engined spider”.

Carrying the evocative GTS badge, the newcomer answers a need. Enrico Galliera, Ferrari Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, explains: “The market is ready for this car: our favoured clients and collectors have requested such a model more passionately than virtually any other Ferrari”.

The sophisticated look of the 812 GTS includes head fairings that flow from the cockpit to the rear of the car <em>Photo: Richard Pardon</em>
The sophisticated look of the 812 GTS includes head fairings that flow from the cockpit to the rear of the car Photo: Richard Pardon

Whilst it doesn’t specifically reference any former model, it has clear historical links with the 365 GTS4 of 1969, famously nicknamed the Daytona, the marque’s last V12 series-produced spider. But this new Ferrari has one big difference from anything that’s gone before: it’s the first ever V12 Ferrari with a retractable hard top, making it the first 12-cylinder model that can be both coupé and spider.

If you like the sound of a V12 engine, you’ll love the 812 GTS. It’s been designed so that, roof down, it delivers a full symphonic experience, despite the latest emissions rules obliging significant changes to the engine and exhaust. “We worked hard to maintain the same power output as the 812 Superfast – 800cv – whilst also enhancing the sound”, says Leiters, contending that the audial experience has always been one of the key reasons people choose an 812 Superfast.

The cabin of the 812 GTS boasts exceptional roominess<em> Photo: Richard Pardon</em>
The cabin of the 812 GTS boasts exceptional roominess Photo: Richard Pardon

That's now taken to a different level, thanks to a unique exhaust system carefully interconnected to amplify the aural experience. The fuel combustion system has been tweaked, too, so that it’s more satisfying on the ear. "Spider customers are looking for two elements that are very difficult to achieve”, explains Galliera.

“They want to hear the music of the car, to have an experience that’s as pure as possible, but they also want to be able to talk to their passenger whilst driving at speed”. So the retractable hardtop has been designed to minimise turbulence, with the position of the wind deflector being changeable to favour maximum comfort or opt for the purest sound experience. The rollover protection integrates a new aerodynamic device to minimise air intrusion.

Driving with the roof down, passengers can mix comfort with peak aural pleasure<em> Photo: Richard Pardon</em><em><br /></em>
Driving with the roof down, passengers can mix comfort with peak aural pleasure Photo: Richard Pardon

Lightweight aluminium is used for the hard top which can be raised or lowered in just 14 seconds, even when the car is in motion (at speeds up to 45kmh). And when the roof closes, the GTS performs like a coupé: this is a car equally at home crossing continents as it is in delivering a short hit of adrenaline. The classic front-mounted V12 layout offers unique roominess inside the car, maximum comfort and a very particular driving experience.

Ferrari has taken great care to carry through the driving character of the 812 Superfast into this GTS. Because of a slight increase in weight – around 75 kilos – changes have been made to the magnetorheological damping control systems. But the chassis has also been strengthened so that the spider version handles with the same precision. New design elements include the beautiful head fairings that flow down the rear deck, and the unique rear end styling treatment. This Ferrari 812 GTS provides the visceral experience of the 812 Superfast, yet adds the liberating emotions and unique soundscape of open-top driving. Sounds good.

Ferrari