IntroductionConventional wisdom has it that crossover SUV drivers are drawn to their rides because they want to avoid the family-mobile stigma of a minivan. However, a crossover SUV hardly makes a bold statement of its own. That's why families with four members or fewer should consider the 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Well, let's qualify that: families with four members or fewer and perhaps their own hedge fund.
We're not entirely joking about the 612's credentials as a family hauler. Its trunk can swallow almost 9 cubic feet of luggage, which is about nine times as much as you can carry on a Ducati sportbike. Its rear compartment may only have two seats, but there's honestly 10-gallon-hat headroom back there, and legroom isn't bad either. Its leather-wrapped interior will make practically any road trip with the kiddos a pleasant experience. And with a base price of approximately $312,000, the 612 costs less than 12 Honda Odysseys.
All right, so bang for the buck isn't exactly the 612's forte. But in most other respects, it really is a supercar the whole family can enjoy. Certifiable supercars with room for four full-size humans are a rare breed, and Ferrari certainly deserves some respect for building one. It also deserves respect for updating it every year rather than letting it lie fallow -- notably, the 2009 model receives Ferrari's trademark "manettino" steering wheel knob, which allows fingertip control over five performance driving modes.
Our only real beef with the 612 involves its shape. Despite having been penned by the iconic Pininfarina styling house, the 612 looks rather mundane by Ferrari's lofty standards. However, once those lucky few Scaglietti owners have fired up the ferocious 532-horsepower V12 under the hood or taken familiar corners at belief-beggaring velocities, they probably won't care too much about where this Ferrari falls in the pantheon of automotive design.
Comparing the 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti with rivals like the Bentley Continental GT and Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG is like comparing a live concerto to a tape recording. The latter can still satisfy, but the former has that special something that inspires people to fork over more money in order to experience it. The 612 has that special something. If you need high-speed, sharp-handling transportation for four adults, it doesn't get better than this.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and OptionsThe 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti comes in a 2+2 coupe body style. Standard equipment on the sole trim level includes xenon headlights, 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels wearing 245/45 front and 285/40 rear performance tires, an adaptive suspension system, a "manettino" knob on the steering wheel (which groups suspension settings, stability and traction control thresholds, and F1 gearbox shift changes into five distinct driving modes), a power-closing trunk, rear park assist, heated exterior mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, power front seats and leather upholstery. Also standard is a Bose Media System, which bundles together premium sound, a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, an iPod jack, a USB port and 15 gigabytes of audio storage.
Optional features include heated front seats, a space-saver spare tire kit, run-flat tires and a six-piece fitted leather luggage set. Should you desire even higher performance, the HGTS package provides a quicker-acting F1 gearbox, a sport exhaust and colored brake calipers, while the HGTC package includes those items plus carbon-ceramic disc brakes, unique wheels and a chrome accent for the rear diffuser. Further customization is available via Ferrari's One-to-One program, which allows the buyer to sit down in an "atelier" (French for "workshop") at the factory with a Ferrari expert and specify interior materials, color combinations and so on.
Powertrains and PerformanceThe rear-wheel-drive 612 Scaglietti is powered by a 5.7-liter V12 that cranks out 532 hp and 434 pound-feet of torque. Notably, the V12 is mounted rearward enough that the 612 is considered a front/midengine car. A six-speed "F1" automated manual is the only available transmission, and it features improved shift times for 2009. The F1 setup offers a choice of automatic or manual mode, the latter being controlled via steering-column-mounted shift paddles. According to Ferrari, the 612 Scaglietti is capable of sprinting from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and hitting a top speed just shy of 200 mph.
SafetyAntilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control are standard. However, side and side curtain airbags are not available, as Ferrari claims that the 612 provides excellent protection without them.
Interior Design and Special FeaturesThe 612 Scaglietti's interior breaks the stereotype that driving a Ferrari requires sacrificing creature comforts. This leather-lined cabin features sumptuous seating and high-quality materials throughout. Steering-wheel-mounted buttons give the driver control over a wide range of vehicle functions, and the Bose Media System makes the 612 technologically competitive with supercoupes from Bentley and Mercedes. Accessing the two rear bucket seats requires some flexibility, and the cartoonishly prominent rear side bolsters mean that the broader of beam need not apply. Provided that you're fairly fit and can negotiate the seats, headroom won't be a problem, and legroom is adequate as well.
Driving ImpressionsThe 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti compensates for its nearly 2-ton curb weight with light, precise steering and impressively nimble handling. The V12 is a refined brute under full throttle, treating you to an unmistakably Italian symphony with every jab of the throttle. The 612's F1 gearbox provides acceptable shift quality, particularly for a single-clutch unit (the modern dual-clutch gearboxes are generally smoother), along with superhuman shift speeds during performance driving.