Way back in 1947, Enzo Ferrari’s first road car (the 125 S) used a compact little 1.5-liter V12 that produced a nifty 118hp. In the years that have followed, V12s of ever-increasing displacement and power outputs have been slotted into a whole range of new cars coming out of Maranello, eventually bringing us to the new 812 GTS with its 789hp 6.5-liter masterpiece.
Many expected the 812 to be the last of the breed, with stricter regulations forcing the Italians to switch to smaller, turbocharged engines. Now, that may still happen of course, but the man in charge of technological development at Ferrari, Michael Leiters, has told Top Gear that the company is doing all it can to continue the V12 lineage.
“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 hardtop 812. He regards the engineering work to replace that power as his proudest achievement with the GTS.
When asked whether Ferrari could stand alone as the last bastion for the V12, Leiters says: “I don’t know what other companies are doing, but it’s definitely an advantage that, as Ferrari, we have the financial and technological power to follow this street.”
But what other problems could threaten the species? “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 800hp, but everybody wants it.
“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.”
So, Ferrari wants to keep the V12 alive, and that’s something we can very much get behind. Any suggestions for how they go about it, Internet?
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.