Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

This large and luxurious four-seat coupe is one of the fastest, most exclusive four-seaters around.
by Jim Gorzelany and Matthew de Paula

                                                                        Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

Larger and lighter than the 456M it replaced, the four-seat 612 Scaglietti is Ferrari’s most expensive model and the first to boast a chassis and body made entirely of aluminum. This is said to cut the vehicle’s weight by about 40 percent — versus a standard steel setup — and allow exceptional rigidity for a more refined ride and improved handling over the model it replaced.

The 612 Scaglietti carries over unchanged for 2006. Its engine and drivetrain are in the tradition of classic Ferraris: a large, twelve-cylinder up front driving the rear wheels. A version of the 5.7-liter V12 engine that is in the two-seat 575M Marinello puts out a landscape-blurring 540 hp and enables the 612 Scaglietti to reach 62 mph in 4.2 seconds with the standard six-speed manual transmission. The car can reach a top speed of 199 mph.

With a fuel-economy rating of just 10 mpg city/17 mpg highway, the car is subject to a federal gas-guzzler tax.

The understated styling is courtesy of famed Italian design house Pininfarina, which has a long history of designing Ferraris.

The engine is mounted entirely behind the front axle, and the transmission is in the rear of the car for optimum weight distribution (46/54 percent weight distribution front-to-rear with a driver onboard). This allows superior handling.

An optional sequential-manual “F1” six-speed transmission offers manual gear changes with paddles mounted behind the steering wheel — right paddle for upshifts, left paddle for downshifts — or can be left in automatic mode. A sport mode allows better acceleration by holding gears longer so that the engine can rev all the way to redline.

An adaptive suspension varies its calibration according to road conditions, firming up during spirited driving and softening over rough roads. A sport setting stiffens the suspension for the most spirited driving. Likewise, the car’s stability and traction control systems have a sport mode that allows more freedom to drive aggressively before intervening.

As befits its lightweight underpinnings, the 612 Scaglietti’s 2+2 interior is trimmed in aluminum, with impeccably handcrafted leather upholstery throughout. The contoured front sport seats are power-adjustable with a unique headrest design that can be raised and lowered electrically in conjunction with the seatbelt. The rear seat is large enough for two adults to be comfortable on short trips, and the trunk will fit several pieces of luggage.

The instrument panel features large, legible dials and a small screen to the left that displays ancillary information such as engine and oil temperature, or trip information like the number of miles driven. A head unit by Becker is clunky and slow and spoils an otherwise good sound system featuring Bose speakers. Even more odd, though, is the fact that the optional navigation system doesn't come with a color screen. Rudimentary line drawings of roads and intersections — no maps — are displayed on the small dot-matrix screen of the Becker head-unit. Fortunately, directions can be announced by a computerized voice.

Like most exotic cars, the 612 Scaglietti can be customized with any exterior color and interior trim of a client's choosing. Options include a full-size spare tire, special 19-inch wheels, run-flat tires, parking sensors and custom-fitted, six-piece leather luggage designed by Pininfarina. Pricing for these was not available.

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