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Gentlemanly hooligan. Image by Ferrari.

Gentlemanly hooligan
Showing remarkable restraint through France I keep to a steady 85mph to avoid the attentions of the tenacious Gendarme. On reaching Spain's border the fear for my license evaporates, so I finally give the Scaglietti's V12 a serious workout when leaving the border control.

   



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Showing remarkable restraint through France I keep to a steady 85mph to avoid the attentions of the tenacious Gendarme. On reaching Spain's border the fear for my license evaporates, so I finally give the Scaglietti's V12 a serious workout when leaving the border control. The glorious metallic rasp of the 5.7-litre V12 reaching its redline turns heads; a sharp tug on the right hand paddle resulting in another fierce lunge through the V12's upper rev range. Not quite its possible 4.2 second 0-62mph run, but not far off it! The rich, melodious sound from that mighty engine is muffled as my window eventually closes while I chuck my passport, unlooked at onto the passenger seat.

The speed limit might actually be lower here in Spain than it is in France, but none of the locals seem to pay any attention. So I settle the Scaglietti into a steady 95mph cruise (still some 104mph short of its maximum), a much more comfortable pace than through France. There, even the sound from a Ferrari V12 became tiresome when cruising at steady speeds; a constant 85mph leaving the revs sitting between 3-3500rpm, a noisy point in the engine's range. The normally enjoyable resonance soon dissipates when you up the pace a bit, the wind rushing by softening the V12's blare, carrying away with it the exhaust system's note. This car is designed for big speeds, not the brutally enforced French limits. I'm aiming for Valencia, Ferrari telling me the sort of 1,300 mile trip is exactly what the 612 was designed for. And who am I to argue?

Ferrari's big four-seater GTs have always had a bit of a mixed reception. Traditionally the 'sensible' Ferrari has always had a tough time, the rear seats next to hopeless and the drama not quite that of its two-seater brethren. The beautiful 456GT undoubtedly did a great deal to reverse that, but when the Scaglietti arrived it wasn't received all that well. Named after Sergio Scaglietti, the man responsible for shaping some of Ferrari's most famous and beautiful aluminium cars it's difficult to put the 612 into the conventionally beautiful category; striking certainly, with several hints in its styling to classic Ferraris, but a grower looks-wise.

Its shape might have caused controversy, but there's never been anything wrong with the way the big 612 goes about its business. The aluminium body and frame means despite the shear scale of it weight's kept low, the 5.7-litre V12 (derived from that in the recently departed 575 Maranello) sitting far back behind the front axle. So despite its front-engine positioning the 612 is effectively front-mid engined, its weight distribution 46/54 front to rear. And that makes it surprisingly wieldy, despite its initially daunting dimensions.

Indeed, it's amazing how quickly I've become accustomed to 'my' 612, the majority of my journey so far on tedious, smooth and straight autoroutes. So I'm well versed in its cruising capabilities, but there's still so much more to discover. It doesn't take too long before the temptation to find more challenging back roads gets too much. It's here where you might expect the 612 Scaglietti to lose its composure, but it actually proves remarkably agile for its size.

Optionally equipped with the 5,500 F1 paddle shift transmission it's quick to swap its six cogs; not quite as lightening fast as its 599 GTB relative, but swift enough. Sport mode makes it quicker, though to really smooth the shift in either mode a slight lift is required. There's an auto function that does it all for you, but really, if you're after a fast slush-box head down to your Bentley or Mercedes-Benz showroom instead. This is a driver's car, that Sport mode also firming up the suspension. Annoyingly the two are inseparable, meaning if you want the quicker shifts around town or on the motorway there's a compromise in ride comfort, a minor but significant complaint. Positioned behind the steering wheel the paddles could do with being longer too, allowing you to better grab a gear on the exit of a corner when winding off lock, or winding on some of the opposite variety...

And getting the Ferrari's most sensible model to exhibit its more playful side isn't difficult. Getting the tail out with 532bhp on offer is never going to be that tricky, and Ferrari has made it as friendly as possible when you choose to drive this gentleman's Ferrari in a hooligan fashion. Although light, there's some real feel to the steering, it being precise and deliberate on turn in, the brakes too offering firm bite and strong, repeatable retardation from speed. There's a lot of nose in front of you but its steering fills you with confidence, allowing you to drive the 612 faster than you might normally dare with something so large down difficult roads. The body control is impressive, with little roll, pitch or dive, only the 612's width eventually limiting pace.

The ride remains remarkably composed even on challenging roads, only sharp ridges sending shudders through the car. Sport mode upsets things at low speeds, the normal mode softening the ride to better cope with rough patches and damping road noise, too. As impressive as the 612 undoubtedly is dynamically it's shown up by the new 599 GTB Fiorano. The magnetic damping system on its younger sibling does a better all-round job, containing body movement while also retaining ride comfort. With the 612 Scaglietti there's a compromise between the two.

However, the 612 has two seats in its nicely finished leather and metal interior where there are none in the 599. They're surprisingly useful too, three people able to sit in reasonable comfort for a decent amount of time. Try and pop a passenger behind the driver and you'll limit its range, the driver's seat needing to be uncomfortably far forward for driving with a passenger behind. While I'm picking holes in its GT credentials the boot isn't that large, and access tight, and the optional (and pricey) satnav system is hopeless, with no mapping function and fiddly operation.

Otherwise there's a lot to like. The engine's a cracker; it's a remarkably comfortable long distance machine and supremely able on more challenging roads, too. Impressive as the Ferrari 612 is though, the 599's a more involving, firecracker drive. It might not have the four seats of the 612 but really, if you can afford the 180,245 price of the F1 paddle shift-equipped Scaglietti costs before options, then you can afford to have the nanny follow in something else when you take your Ferrari on holiday and absolutely have to take the kids.

Kyle Fortune - 21 Jun 2006



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2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti specifications: (F1)
Price: 180,245 on-the-road (optional extras fitted to test car).
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Top speed: 199mph
Combined economy: 13.6mpg
Emissions: 475g/km
Kerb weight: 1840kg

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Kyle Fortune.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Kyle Fortune.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Kyle Fortune.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Kyle Fortune.2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Kyle Fortune.



2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.
 

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.
 

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.
 

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.
 

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.
 

2006 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Image by Ferrari.
 






 

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