Sign in to follow this  
The O.C.

'06 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and F430 Spider

12 posts in this topic

I had the most incredible test drive experience ever in my "career" as a car enthusiast! I attended the Ferrari Challenge at Infineon Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point) up in the Bay Area this weekend.

Through a friend that I have at Ferrari N.A., I got to test drive a 612 Scaglietti and an F430 Spider for about 30 minutes each on roads in and around Sonoma County. And, incredibly, my friend got me two "hot laps" around the track in between races in a 612 driven by a professional Ferrari driver.

612 Scaglietti

The 612 is THE Ferrari daily-driver. I was impressed by how much room was actually inside the car (it IS a big car after all....) and we had three of us in it when I drove it and as long as the person in front moves the seat a bit, you can comfortably sit in the rear.....at least for a night out to dinner or a day of errands. I don't think you'd wanna ride on a trip back there though.

It's a handsome car, but by no means the most beautiful Ferrari ever made. The interior, however, was in a whole new league. Everything, I mean EVERYthing was covered in soft leather....including the headliner, the sun visors, the console, the dash, etc. I was even impressed by the general fit-and-finish and the HVAC controls and secondary switchgear moved with a fine precision.

The car I drove was not equipped with the optional GTC handling pack and as a result of the quieter exhaust, the car was amazingly refined for such a vehicle. It still had the characteristic Ferrari V-12 snort, but it was muted in this model. The ride is very firm, but still comfortable. This car is certainly able to offer a more "hard-edged" alternative to fancy 2+2 GT cars such as the Continental GT or Jaguar XJ. I was also surprised by the light-effort steering....however, there was NO slack in the gear and turning response was still quite sharp. If you are so inclined, the 612 can be a "two-finger" steer.

Put your foot down, and the car explodes. I believe C&D got 0-60 in 4.2 seconds and it feels it. But the engine is extremely smooth....if vocal. I'll comment later on the F1 transmission (both cars were so equipped.) Needless to say, on the road, this car feels WAY lighter than it's 4,100 lbs of curb weight.

In the end, I of course loved the 612.....at over $200K how could you not? BUT...I was also slightly underwhelmed by what my expectations of a modern Ferrari should be. The 612 was almost too "normal" and too "refined." There's absolutely NOTHING eccentric about THIS Ferrari.....other than it's still-sheer competence on the road.

Then, I took two hot laps in a GTC handling pack-equipped 612.....and man what a difference! First of all, the louder exhaust note will give you an instant hard-on. The race track at Infineon is quite fast as we hit over 120mph in the 612 on the 3 straights long enough to gain some speed. Particularly exciting was the minor amount of air we got coming over one rise at 120mph....you could hear the rear tires hitting the ground and screeching as they grabbed traction again. However, at no point did I ever feel like the car was out of control. There was a bit more roll in the severe corners than I imagined an F430 would have exhibited....but there's no doubt this car attacks a road course like no car weighing over 4K pounds has ANY right to.

F430 Spider

Man Ferrari has earned EVERY accolade they've gotten for this car. After my drive in the 612, THIS is a REAL Ferrari. This car is sex on wheels and everything about driving it sends incredible tingles up your backside. Maybe I'm being a bit overreactive here, but this car to me is the true essence of a Ferrari road car.

First of all, you simply cannot believe the overwhelming throttle response of this small-displacement V8 (the 612's V-12 is the same...) Any small twitch of your toe extracts powerful responses from the 483hp V8. My C6, in comparison, feels slothful. Of course, the C6 Corvette is fast.....but in the Ferrari, it feels ferocious, like a caged animal. According to C&D, 0-60s are not that far apart....3.9secs for the F430 Spider, 4.3secs for the C6 convertible.....but it's hard to describe...you'd have to drive it to understand. It's something about the whole package....the engine, the transmission, the throttle pedal, the throttle linkage....it all seems way more wired to your brain inputs. Comparing the C6 to the F430 would be like, say, comparing say a Lexus LS430 and, say, a Nissan 350Z. Sure they both go 0-60 in about 5.7secs, but they feel entirely different getting there.

The ride on the F430 is tied to the road....MUCH firmer than even a Z51 C6 I've driven.....but somehow, Ferrari builds in amazing suppleness over most road imperfections. If you've driven an EVO, you'll understand how a car can feel glued to the road, but with absolutely awful ride quality. In the Ferrari, they've managed to make the car decently comfortable. There was no cowl shake either. The steering was firmer than the 612's, but still of way lighter effort than I would have imagined.

While the interior was finished to as high of a quality as the 612's, there wasn't quite enough fore-and-aft room for me to be totally comfortable....but I'm comparing that to my C6 convertible that is really overwhelmingly roomy inside....and actually above the norm for two seaters. Other than the fore-and-aft room, the inside was quite airy with plenty of width and headroom. You don't have that "sitting in a tub" feeling that you experience in a 911 or Gallardo.

The best sensual part of this open-top Ferrari is the NOISE......OMG the NOISE......it's really like everyone says. The engine and exhaust notes are the most seductive I've ever heard. The sound that comes when you bypass the baffles with the throttle gives it a whole new edge. Even in say 6th gear, at 50mph, flexing your toe gives you an engine and exhaust note that will make you grin. It IS loud...but man with this car, you really don't care.

Now the F1 transmission that was in both cars. The EXECUTION is excellent and the tranny will shift so fast, it will even execute two downshifts in a row to where you can't feel them both if you pump the paddle fast enough. However, at mid-to-high rev shifting, it's still WAY to lurchy. In the F430, when I would shift around 5,000rpms or higher, I could see my friend's head bobbing forward as the tranny slammed into gear. Yes it's fast....yes it's reliable.....but I can SO shift my C6 so much smoother (even if I wouldn't be quicker at the shifting.) What IS cool is how the F1 blips the throttle on downshifts. It's a good system...it really is....but as a traditionalist, I much prefer the driver interaction with a clutch and shifter. It's more rewarding. When I wasn't hustling, and just driving the cars around town, I might as well had an automatic it was so boring.....

If I was spending the money and was really rich, I'd buy an F430 Spider with the traditional "three-pedal" 6-speed manual for driving around town....and buy an F430 Coupe F1 to take to the track.

Downsides? No cupholders or cruise control in any Ferrari. (Many argue, including the Ferrari people themselves, that those features have no place in such a car.) Also, the paint quality on the 612 showed significant orange peel. The F430, however, looked to be flawless. Maintenance and repair costs HAVE to be a downside...but I guess if you can afford the cars in the first place, that really doesn't matter to you. Other than that, it really IS hard to nit-pick these things.

Obviously this is a more-than-positive review of the cars. It was exciting to get to drive them. Are they perfect? Nah.....but Ferrari really has put the time, money, and enthusiasm into making these cars REALLY seem damn well worth the money. I've driven plenty of older Ferraris....and I was afraid these "modern" Ferraris would be "watered down." They aren't (even the "softer" 612.) It's not like Lexus trying to justify the additional price of an ES over a Camry. These cars do truly feel like something unique. And for that, we can all continue to dream!

That being said, I grinned even more when I got back into my C6 Convertible at the end of the day, dropped the top, hit the gas and rowed from 1st through 6th gears getting back on the 101. After spending so much time in the Ferraris, my car felt soft....like a GT car....it was smoother riding, quieter, damn near as fast (even if the actual response isn't) and a LOT cheaper! BUT it's not the same as the Ferraris....

....and that's actually a good thing for the Corvette.....and an appropriate thing for the Ferraris......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review. Someone's dad at our school has a red F430 F1 coupe (and Merc SLR, Carrera GT, Stingray 'Vette, and Shelby Cobra...), and I can attest to that amazing (!!!) engine noise, particularly during a 1-2 gear change when it "snorts" from the instant drop in revs. My only beef is that all F430s are inherently uncool, particularly the Spider.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never ridden/driven a ferrari and only been around a few. Those (statically) failed to impress me, especially for the price (which curiously was mentioned as almost a positive above). For the same money a car could easily be built that would destroy a ferrari and have an interior from the current millenium (based on those cars' & pics I've seen: horrible interiors). And not have a starter that sounds like a '70s MoPar. Ahhh- that's just me I suppose.

Nice write-up, tho.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never ridden/driven a ferrari and only been around a few. Those (statically) failed to impress me, especially for the price (which curiously was mentioned as almost a positive above). For the same money a car could easily be built that would destroy a ferrari and have an interior from the current millenium (based on those cars' & pics I've seen: horrible interiors). And not have a starter that sounds like a '70s MoPar. Ahhh- that's just me I suppose.

Nice write-up, tho.

yes...indeed.

a la the zed 06 as reviewed by clarkson of top gear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never ridden/driven a ferrari and only been around a few. Those (statically) failed to impress me, especially for the price (which curiously was mentioned as almost a positive above). For the same money a car could easily be built that would destroy a ferrari and have an interior from the current millenium (based on those cars' & pics I've seen: horrible interiors). And not have a starter that sounds like a '70s MoPar. Ahhh- that's just me I suppose.

Nice write-up, tho.

There actually is nothing at ALL "horrible" about the interiors. Leather everywhere.....solid-feeling switchgear......super-supportive seats......fine fit-and-finish.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The designs in general have a distinct... homemade appearance. Some have had velour dashpads (Elvis would've loved 'em) and straight-sided consoles that smack of upholstered plywood boxes. Really looked dated and bush-league; not the things of 6-digit cars at all.

Some pictures have elicited out-loud laughter on my part.

I am not exaggerating.

Very recent ones must have greatly improved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want a Ferrari F430, and I don't really care if the Z06 is faster. Hopefully I'll own one in my lifetime. That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen on 4 wheels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want a Ferrari F430, and I don't really care if the Z06 is faster. Hopefully I'll own one in my lifetime. That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen on 4 wheels.

I agree, generally I will never buy another import, but if I had too and had the means, the F430 or 360 Modena would be in my garage. I have always liked the styling of these "enrty" level Ferarri's over their more expensive siblings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the most incredible test drive experience ever in my "career" as a car enthusiast!  I attended the Ferrari Challenge at Infineon Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point) up in the Bay Area this weekend.

Through a friend that I have at Ferrari N.A., I got to test drive a 612 Scaglietti and an F430 Spider for about 30 minutes each on roads in and around Sonoma County.  And, incredibly, my friend got me two "hot laps" around the track in between races in a 612 driven by a professional Ferrari driver.

612 Scaglietti

The 612 is THE Ferrari daily-driver.  I was impressed by how much room was actually inside the car (it IS a big car after all....) and we had three of us in it when I drove it and as long as the person in front moves the seat a bit, you can comfortably sit in the rear.....at least for a night out to dinner or a day of errands.  I don't think you'd wanna ride on a trip back there though.

It's a handsome car, but by no means the most beautiful Ferrari ever made.  The interior, however, was in a whole new league.  Everything, I mean EVERYthing was covered in soft leather....including the headliner, the sun visors, the console, the dash, etc.  I was even impressed by the general fit-and-finish and the HVAC controls and secondary switchgear moved with a fine precision.

The car I drove was not equipped with the optional GTC handling pack and as a result of the quieter exhaust, the car was amazingly refined for such a vehicle.  It still had the characteristic Ferrari V-12 snort, but it was muted in this model.  The ride is very firm, but still comfortable.  This car is certainly able to offer a more "hard-edged" alternative to fancy 2+2 GT cars such as the Continental GT or Jaguar XJ.  I was also surprised by the light-effort steering....however, there was NO slack in the gear and turning response was still quite sharp.  If you are so inclined, the 612 can be a "two-finger" steer.

Put your foot down, and the car explodes.  I believe C&D got 0-60 in 4.2 seconds and it feels it.  But the engine is extremely smooth....if vocal.  I'll comment later on the F1 transmission (both cars were so equipped.)  Needless to say, on the road, this car feels WAY lighter than it's 4,100 lbs of curb weight.

In the end, I of course loved the 612.....at over $200K how could you not?  BUT...I was also slightly underwhelmed by what my expectations of a modern Ferrari should be.  The 612 was almost too "normal" and too "refined."  There's absolutely NOTHING eccentric about THIS Ferrari.....other than it's still-sheer competence on the road.

Then, I took two hot laps in a GTC handling pack-equipped 612.....and man what a difference!  First of all, the louder exhaust note will give you an instant hard-on.  The race track at Infineon is quite fast as we hit over 120mph in the 612 on the 3 straights long enough to gain some speed.  Particularly exciting was the minor amount of air we got coming over one rise at 120mph....you could hear the rear tires hitting the ground and screeching as they grabbed traction again.  However, at no point did I ever feel like the car was out of control.  There was a bit more roll in the severe corners than I imagined an F430 would have exhibited....but there's no doubt this car attacks a road course like no car weighing over 4K pounds has ANY right to.

F430 Spider

Man Ferrari has earned EVERY accolade they've gotten for this car.  After my drive in the 612, THIS is a REAL Ferrari.  This car is sex on wheels and everything about driving it sends incredible tingles up your backside.  Maybe I'm being a bit overreactive here, but this car to me is the true essence of a Ferrari road car.

First of all, you simply cannot believe the overwhelming throttle response of this small-displacement V8 (the 612's V-12 is the same...)  Any small twitch of your toe extracts powerful responses from the 483hp V8.  My C6, in comparison, feels slothful.  Of course, the C6 Corvette is fast.....but in the Ferrari, it feels ferocious, like a caged animal.  According to C&D, 0-60s are not that far apart....3.9secs for the F430 Spider, 4.3secs for the C6 convertible.....but it's hard to describe...you'd have to drive it to understand.  It's something about the whole package....the engine, the transmission, the throttle pedal, the throttle linkage....it all seems way more wired to your brain inputs.  Comparing the C6 to the F430 would be like, say, comparing say a Lexus LS430 and, say, a Nissan 350Z.  Sure they both go 0-60 in about 5.7secs, but they feel entirely different getting there. 

The ride on the F430 is tied to the road....MUCH firmer than even a Z51 C6 I've driven.....but somehow, Ferrari builds in amazing suppleness over most road imperfections.  If you've driven an EVO, you'll understand how a car can feel glued to the road, but with absolutely awful ride quality.  In the Ferrari, they've managed to make the car decently comfortable. There was no cowl shake either.  The steering was firmer than the 612's, but still of way lighter effort than I would have imagined.

While the interior was finished to as high of a quality as the 612's, there wasn't quite enough fore-and-aft room for me to be totally comfortable....but I'm comparing that to my C6 convertible that is really overwhelmingly roomy inside....and actually above the norm for two seaters.  Other than the fore-and-aft room, the inside was quite airy with plenty of width and headroom.  You don't have that "sitting in a tub" feeling that you experience in a 911 or Gallardo.

The best sensual part of this open-top Ferrari is the NOISE......OMG the NOISE......it's really like everyone says.  The engine and exhaust notes are the most seductive I've ever heard.  The sound that comes when you bypass the baffles with the throttle gives it a whole new edge.  Even in say 6th gear, at 50mph, flexing your toe gives you an engine and exhaust note that will make you grin.  It IS loud...but man with this car, you really don't care.

Now the F1 transmission that was in both cars.  The EXECUTION is excellent and the tranny will shift so fast, it will even execute two downshifts in a row to where you can't feel them both if you pump the paddle fast enough.  However, at mid-to-high rev shifting, it's still WAY to lurchy.  In the F430, when I would shift around 5,000rpms or higher, I could see my friend's head bobbing forward as the tranny slammed into gear.  Yes it's fast....yes it's reliable.....but I can SO shift my C6 so much smoother (even if I wouldn't be quicker at the shifting.)  What IS cool is how the F1 blips the throttle on downshifts.  It's a good system...it really is....but as a traditionalist, I much prefer the driver interaction with a clutch and shifter.  It's more rewarding.  When I wasn't hustling, and just driving the cars around town, I might as well had an automatic it was so boring.....

If I was spending the money and was really rich, I'd buy an F430 Spider with the traditional "three-pedal" 6-speed manual for driving around town....and buy an F430 Coupe F1 to take to the track.

Downsides?  No cupholders or cruise control in any Ferrari.  (Many argue, including the Ferrari people themselves, that those features have no place in such a car.)  Also, the paint quality on the 612 showed significant orange peel.  The F430, however, looked to be flawless.  Maintenance and repair costs HAVE to be a downside...but I guess if you can afford the cars in the first place, that really doesn't matter to you.  Other than that, it really IS hard to nit-pick these things.

Obviously this is a more-than-positive review of the cars.  It was exciting to get to drive them.  Are they perfect?  Nah.....but Ferrari really has put the time, money, and enthusiasm into making these cars REALLY seem damn well worth the money.  I've driven plenty of older Ferraris....and I was afraid these "modern" Ferraris would be "watered down."  They aren't (even the "softer" 612.)  It's not like Lexus trying to justify the additional price of an ES over a Camry.  These cars do truly feel like something unique.  And for that, we can all continue to dream!

That being said, I grinned even more when I got back into my C6 Convertible at the end of the day, dropped the top, hit the gas and rowed from 1st through 6th gears getting back on the 101.  After spending so much time in the Ferraris, my car felt soft....like a GT car....it was smoother riding, quieter, damn near as fast (even if the actual response isn't) and a LOT cheaper!  BUT it's not the same as the Ferraris....

....and that's actually a good thing for the Corvette.....and an appropriate thing for the Ferraris......

I live in the Bay Area (Antioch) and wanted to attend but had to go to some stupid Bluegrass festival in Perkfield instead. Not a happy camper as a result. Great reviews O.C.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, generally I will never buy another import, but if I had too and had the means, the F430 or 360 Modena would be in my garage. I have always liked the styling of these "enrty" level Ferarri's over their more expensive siblings.

Yep, the 360 Modena was the most beautiful car ever, until the F430 was released. I don't care for the other Ferraris too much either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great read,OC. Thanks for sharing it.

It sounds as though the F1 paddle shift has improved from the F355 version, although still clunky at all but full-on driving. I was lucky enough to spend some time driving an F355 spider with F1 and, like you, would have chosen a "3 pedal" version instead. That said, there is something very special about driving a Ferrari, any Ferrari.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this