Ferrari first ruined a utterly good car. In transforming the sure footed F12berlinetta grand tourist into the fast and loose, apex hounding F12-TDF, Ferrari engineers deconstructed the stability that is inherent in the F12’s long wheelbase, its substantial weight, and its high polar moment of inertia relative to middle engine cars.
The F12-TDF worms its way into your mind with delicate, light steering that is direct, quick, and unforgiving. Spin the steering wheel too fast or too far and the rear responds just the same, rotating too fast or too far. Get it right, though, and the car darts where you look with the rear tires dependably following the front end in a tight, tidy arc.
The electric motors that steer the rear wheels at up to 2 degrees in either direction come from ZF, but Ferrari engineers performed all of the software calibration to ensure the system works in harmony with the electronically controlled limited slip differential, the magnetorheological shocks, the traction control, and the stability control.
Ferrari claims its adjustment does not need to counter-steer the rear wheels; the natural behavior of the car is sufficiently agile. Rather than, the Italians need only the increased stability to keep the tail from overtaking the front of the car in corners.
The F12tdf musters an additional 39 hp and 11 lb ft of torque over the standard F12 with the help of a new air-filter box, revised intake plumbing, and a larger throttle body. Solid lifters replace hydraulic tappets. The resulting weight step down allows Ferrari to add more valve lift to the intake cam profile and to raise the rev limiter from 8700 rpm to 8900 rpm.
The always-on nature of the big-displacement, naturally aspirated 12-cylinder engine demands a delicate right foot on corner exit, but the pedal obliges with long, linear travel. When it’s time to reverse thrust, a brake pedal with just as much fidelity activates a carbon-ceramic braking system borrowed from the LaFerrari hypercar.
Ferrari may have taken one step backward to start work on the F12-TDF, but its completed product is miles ahead of the F12 in driving excitement.