2016 Ferrari F12tdf
To build its latest red-blooded creation, Ferrari first ruined a perfectly good car. In transforming the sure-footed F12berlinetta grand tourer into the fast-and-loose, apex-hounding F12tdf, Ferrari engineers deconstructed the stability that’s inherent in the F12’s long wheelbase, its substantial weight, and its high polar moment of inertia relative to mid-engined cars. The front tires grew in width from 255 millimeters to 285 millimeters, an aggressive alignment boosted turn-in and lateral grip, and—with no change to the rear tire width—a fickle, oversteering monster was born. One Ferrari chassis engineer described the team’s work bluntly: “First, we screwed up the car.”
With the chassis suitably squirrelly, engineers applied the brand’s first use of rear-wheel steering to dial in just enough stability to make the car manageable and predictable. Ferrari calls the resulting package Passo Corto Virtuale, or virtual short wheelbase, and it shrinks the F12tdf’s 107.1-inch wheelbase and 3600-pound curb weight to Miata-like sensations. Okay, maybe the F12tdf doesn’t drive quite that small and nimble, but it more than compensates with the uncanny precision that $490,000 buys.
Virtual Short Wheelbase, Real-World Awesome
The F12tdf worms its way into your psyche with delicate, light steering that is direct, immediate, 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 faithfully following the front end in a tight, tidy arc. It’s ironic that the steering feels like the most special of the F12tdf’s specialties, because while Ferrari massaged the F12’s engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, and aerodynamics for the F12tdf program, the hydraulically assisted steering system is the one component left unchanged. Read more...