Ferrari makes its marque in UK market

The UK has just become the largest European market for Ferrari for the first time, proving that our passion for ‘prancing horse’ sports cars shows no sign of abating. Germany was previously Ferrari’s strongest European market, but the UK has now taken the lead, with 677 sales here over the year. The US remains the biggest market overall, however, with over 2,000 deliveries made there last year. All in all, the pictures looking pretty rosy for Ferrari, who have just announced record profits for 2013, even though it sold fewer cars than in 2012. The company made net profits of a staggering £217m, up 5.4% on the year before, despite the fact it cut the number of cars delivered to dealerships by around 5% to 6,922. So why the fall in the number of cars sold? Ferrari wants to remain a ‘luxury’ brand, and by reducing the numbers available, the cars’ value increases and they retain their exclusivity. Even if Ferrari started churning them out, however, it seems difficult to believe they would ever lose their appeal.

Brand on the run

These beasts are a thing of beauty and even just the name Ferrari oozes Italian style and glamour. It’s hardly surprising then, that Ferrari has been named the world’s most powerful brand by consultants Brand Finance for the second successive year. Take a look at its current range, and it’s not difficult to see why Ferrari is the clear leader of the sports car pack. My personal favourite is the 458 Spider. With room enough only for two, this glorious convertible with its retractable hard top is the stuff of dreams, equipped with 570 horsepower and the now-famous 7-speed plus reverse F1 dual-clutch gearbox that makes this a silky smooth drive.
But I must confess that it’s a close run thing between the Spider and the just-launched California T, another model which shows Ferrari at its best. The ‘T’ relates to the car’s new 8-cylinder turbo engine that combines reduced fuel emissions (250g/km of CO2) and fuel consumption (-15%) with impressive performance. And then there’s the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Looking as though it would be quite at home in a Bond movie, the 458 Speciale has a racing-inspired style, and a steering response time of 0.060 seconds and a lateral acceleration of 1.33G – the highest ever achieved for any Ferrari car.

Power to the people

But if you’re looking for the ultimate in high performance, then the F12berlinetta is the stuff of dreams. With a 12-cylinder engine it has a staggering maximum power output of 740 CV at 8250rpm, and is a much lower and narrower car than Ferrari’s previous V12 coupe, making it look shorter and more compact.
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It’s packed with innovative technology too, including the ‘Aero Bridge’ which uses the bonnet to create downforce, and ‘Active Brake Cooling’, a system of guide vanes on the brake air ducts which only open in the brake operating temperatures are high enough. Talk of cooling, you’ll need an icy quarter of a million pounds if you want to get behind the wheel of the F12berlinetta, which goes some way towards explaining Ferrari’s impressive profits. But let’s not forget that Ferrari also produces family cars too. The Ferrari FF is a four-wheel drive with four seats to fit the kids in too (although frankly if I could afford a Ferrari I’d keep their grubby little hands as far away from it as possible.) Ferrari claims the FF melds extreme sports car performance with the versatility of a Grand Tourer, going from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 335 km/h. Fuel consumption isn’t bad at 15.4 litres per 11km, with CO2 emissions at 360g/km. Despite these impressive credentials, I still can’t help thinking that Ferrari should stick to sportier models - in my view these vehicles should be strictly for adults only. Whichever Ferrari is your favourite, these cars are, and always will be motoring legends. Even if Ferrari continues with its policy of intentionally selling fewer cars in years to come, it seems unlikely this will do it any financial harm at all, such is our thirst for these prestige models.

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