With the reveal of the 2020 Ferrari 812 GTS on Monday, I fear-mongered that it could be the last of a dying breed of naturally-aspirated Ferrari V12s. But now it looks like Ferrari is out to prove me, and most of the governments of the world, very wrong.
Speaking to Top Gear, Ferrari’s head of technical development Michael Leiters said the pride of Italian manufacturing would do everything in its power to tweak its V12 powertrains to persevere through a climate of increasing regulation. From Top Gear:
“We will fight for this engine,” said Leiters at the unveiling of the 812 GTS. “We have good ideas for its development. We now have Euro 6 regulations, which forced us to put a particulate filter on the GTS, and there are general emissions and CO2 targets especially for places like China and the United States.”
That particulate filter was a particular issue for Leiters and his team, as it meant power was originally down on the hard-top 812. He regards the engineering work to replace that power as his proudest achievement with the GTS.
Basically what Leiters is saying is new European regulations meant the GTS isn’t just a convertible version of the 812 Superfast coupe, but unnamed changes were made to make sure it could keep the 790 hp output of the Superfast.
But even if Ferrari can work around the increasing emissions regulations of Europe, it still has to deal with all of the noise coming from its powerful naturally aspirated V12:
“Another is sound,” says Leiters. “The regulations that arrived one and a half years ago are very challenging for us because it’s not only about the level of noise, but the way you measure it is much stricter. This is definitely something that we have to consider as a challenge for the V12.
“The other is challenge is more internal. We have reached a level of specific power output which, for a naturally aspirated engine, is huge. Right now, nobody needs 800bhp but everybody wants it,” Leiters continues.
“I guess we have to understand how we can enrich the engine and its characteristics in a different way in the future, but still show progress.”
Now, Ferrari is not just doing this for some altruistic preservation of a particular engine format. Ferrari isn’t a huge company, and it has a lot invested in this piece of equipment. Obviously a lot of this is just some nice posturing for Ferrari, and it should soak it up! “Oh, our V12 is too powerful and too noisy, but we can afford to keep working on it. Woe is us.”
Keeping the V12 alive, especially the naturally aspirated V12, is exactly the kind of thing a boutique supercar maker like Ferrari should be doing. Forget that V6 Dino revival nonsense (it looks like maybe Ferrari is literally forgetting it), throw the dogs a bone with a hybrid V8 whatever, but at the top should always be a scorching, screaming V12 that reminds everybody you should feel a Ferrari coming down the road, not just see or hear it.