Ferrari F12 Berlinetta pictures and hands-on

In the real world the last day or so has all been about the new iPad. But over in fantasyland, we got our hands on the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. It was a hard job, but someone had to do it.

This is Ferrari’s new flagship, replacing the 599. It’s powered by a V12 and looks, well, absolutely stunning. We got up close and personal with it yesterday at the Geneva motorshow, which opens to the public today. It’s fair to say that if you think it looks good in pictures, wait until you see it in the metal.

Ferrari says that it’s thrown everything it feasibly can, from what it’s learnt in Forumla1, into this car. Mostly, that means new aerodynamics to suck the car to the road. That’s where the novel "aero-bridge" - part of the front wing that breaks away from the top of the bonnet - comes from. It funnels air down through a hole and back along that scoop you can see in the body side.

And just like in F1, where Ferrari and McLaren are fierce rivals, some McLaren engineers we spoke to told us they couldn’t see how it works. Ferrari says it has figures to prove it does. Don’t you just love a good old bit of bitter rivalry?

The face we’ve seen before on the FF, but it’s better this time – looking less like it’s swallowed a cheese grater. Most controversially, at the back, a surface runs around the tail lamps into a narrow band that turns down and disappears underneath the car. Net effect? It looks like a thong. Only the Italians get away with stuff like that.

Step inside and it’s easy to lose yourself in an imaginary world of road trips to the French Riviera and playing the wannabe Lewis Hamilton - or more correctly, Fernando Alonso, given this is a Ferrari. You sit behind a wheel that wouldn’t look out of place in an F1 car, too. It features Ferrari’s "Manettino" switch, which allows you to set the car's mode. But also, like the 458 Italia, it features switches for the indicators and wipers. If you see an F12 going round a roundabout with its wipers on full speed but not indicating, now you know why.

Beyond the wheel there’s a huge yellow Ferrari rev counter, flanked by a pair of TFT screens. These display not only speed, fuel and navigation (no centre screen here), but a check system for the whole car – engine, aero, tyres – to keep you abreast of how it’s all getting on.

This all sits in a slick mix of carbon fibre and leather. The air vents even look a bit like something off a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Different, but modern. Driven by a paddle-shift gearbox, the centre tunnel has just four buttons for hazards, reverse, auto and launch control - the lack of a gear stick means the centre tunnel breaks away from the floor, mimicking that aero-bridge on the outside. Behind your head and in the boot sits bespoke Ferrari luggage, finished in the same leather used on the seats and dash, naturally. Guesses on a postcard as to how many thousands of pounds of option it’s going to be.

On sale next year, and likely to cost around a quarter of a million pounds, the 730bhp, F12 Berlinetta will set your heart alight and empty the contents of your wallet faster – expect it to achieve single-digit MPG figures if you make use of the 211mph potential and three second 0-60 time. Still, if you’re in the position to buy a new Ferrari, it’s doubtful worries like that ever enter your head. As for the rest of us, we’ll continue to dream.