In a world of mid-engine supercars, electric SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and plug-in hybrid crossovers, the fine art of creating a thoroughbred front-engine, V12-powered gran turismo (grand tourer, or GT) sports car has been almost forgotten. Once the default layout for all exclusive coupes, the front-engine V12 beast is almost extinct today. Fortunately, there are still a couple of companies with such models in their lineups. Combining modern engineering and materials with the glorious sounds of V12 engines, those cars represent the last gasps of ICE (internal combustion engine) culture. They are superbly capable machines that can cross continents at high speeds without breaking a sweat. Today, we will pit the two giants of this exclusive segment against each other.
Aston Martin DBS 770 Ultimate
For years, Aston Martin’s (Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC) top models were powered by V12 engines. Wrapped in some of the best British designs of all time, with the finest leather gracing the interior and James Bond charm, the Aston Martin grand tourers were in a league of their own, offering prestige, beauty and brutal performances all in one desirable package. Despite the success of the V8-powered Vantage and DBX SUV, Aston’s engineers didn’t abandon the proven V12 formula. They recently presented the ultimate expression of the majestic GT in the form of the DBS 770. The Aston Martin DBS 770 represents the last gasp for a big V12 engine, mesmerising car enthusiasts with its design, performance and engineering.
The DBS series was always the pinnacle of Aston Martin’s GT offerings. The DBS 770 Ultimate represents a unique model with numerous special touches, including wheels, exterior trim and engine tuning, delivering unmatched performance to 499 lucky owners. Yes, Aston Martin will manufacture only 499 cars (300 coupes and 199 roadsters); apparently, all have been spoken for. What makes this car so special is the 5.2-liter, turbocharged V12 engine with 759 horsepower (hp) on tap, making the DBS 770 Ultimate the most powerful road-goer that Aston Martin has ever manufactured. All that power is sent to the rear wheels over a specially tuned ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, and this combo is responsible for a blisteringly fast 0-to-60-miles-per-hour (mph) time of just 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 211 mph.
Since the DBS 770 Ultimate is significantly more potent than the standard DBS or even the new DB12, for that matter, Aston Martin’s engineers did a lot of chassis and suspension tuning to cope with that power. The suspension components were strengthened, and the car received carbon-ceramic brakes as standard to keep almost 760 hp under control, which snugs perfectly under the new 21-inch wheels.
As the final edition of the DBS model, the 770 Ultimate also received special interior treatment. Those lucky 499 owners will receive carbon inserts, badges and door sills, along with Connolly leather and Alcantara trim. Options include custom details, unique colors and even more aggressive seats for buyers who want to take this beast to the track. The base price starts at $385,000 before taxes.
Ferrari 812 (Superfast) Competizione
If any car brand has defined the V12 grand tourers, it is Ferrari. In fact, for almost two decades, the V12 was the only engine you could get in a Ferrari. From this iconic make’s beginnings until today, cars with 12-cylinder engines have never left the company’s lineup. Even though the modern Ferrari has turned to hybrid V6 and V8 turbocharged engines, there is still a proper V12 GT from Maranello, Italy, in the form of a fantastic 812 Superfast. Although this is a front-engine model, it is a proper supercar with adequate performance and a screaming sound coming from its high-revving engine.
Even though the 812 Superfast was introduced in 2017, it is still relevant due to its amazing design, advanced technology, fantastic performance and the fact that your options are limited if you want a V12 sports coupe. However, in 2021, Ferrari introduced the ultimate version, named the 812 Competizione. Not only does this version have more power and performance than the standard 812 Superfast, but it also has a completely revised design and appearance, further enhancing its presence. Under the hood of the 812 Competizione is a glorious, naturally aspirated, 6.5-liter V12 engine that delivers an astonishing 819 hp at race-car-like 9,250 rpm (revolutions per minute). The result is equally amazing, and the 812 Competizione can reach 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and top 211 mph.
Due to the hard-core nature of the Competizione, it can be connected to Ferrari track specials such as the 250 GTO or, more recently, the 599 GTO, which also feature high-strung V12 engines, unique bodywork and undeniable track capabilities. Compared to the standard 812 Superfast, many components have been upgraded, including the suspension, transmission, brakes and rolling stock. Interestingly, the 812 Competizione has carbon wheels, which reduce unsprung mass and help improve stability at high speeds. Even though the 812 Competizione is happiest on the track, Ferrari knew that most customers would use it on the street. Hence, the manufacturer gave it a comfortable but performance-oriented interior. The materials are of the highest quality, and digital clusters in front of the driver and passenger provide a wealth of information and even race telemetry. However, with such prestigious specifications comes a high price tag, and the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) for the Ferrari 812 Competizione is almost $600,000. That is, of course, if you can find one, since Ferrari will make only 999 units of the coupe and 599 of the Competizione Apertas convertible. Apparently, all have been sold already.
There are plenty of similarities, but also many differences, between these two thoroughbred GTs. Both have the same engine configuration, basic layout and top speed. Both come from brands with long traditions of making such cars. And both are perfect driving tools, available at high costs and in limited quantities. However, that is where the similarities end, since the Aston Martin is clearly a road-going machine designed to be a faithful travelling companion that can transfer its owner from place to place in comfort and speed. It is more suited for long-distance driving. On the other hand, the Ferrari 812 Competizione is a wild beast with an intoxicating engine scream, Formula One driving dynamics and an exotic and aggressive design, leaving no room for doubt that this car was born for high-speed blasts or track days.
Both are beautiful and timeless, and you cannot go wrong with either.