Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Review

Four-Seater Ferrari

This large and luxurious four-seat coupe is one of the fastest, most exclusive four-seaters around.
by Jim Gorzelany and Matthew de Paula

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

Larger and lighter than the 456M it replaced, the four-seat 612 Scaglietti is Ferrari’s most expensive model and the first to boast a chassis and body made entirely of aluminum. This is said to cut the vehicle’s weight by about 40 percent — versus a standard steel setup — and allow exceptional rigidity for a more refined ride and improved handling over the model it replaced.

The 612 Scaglietti carries over unchanged for 2006. Its engine and drivetrain are in the tradition of classic Ferraris: a large, twelve-cylinder up front driving the rear wheels. A version of the 5.7-liter V12 engine that is in the two-seat 575M Marinello puts out a landscape-blurring 540 hp and enables the 612 Scaglietti to reach 62 mph in 4.2 seconds with the standard six-speed manual transmission. The car can reach a top speed of 199 mph.

With a fuel-economy rating of just 10 mpg city/17 mpg highway, the car is subject to a federal gas-guzzler tax.

The understated styling is courtesy of famed Italian design house Pininfarina, which has a long history of designing Ferraris.

The engine is mounted entirely behind the front axle, and the transmission is in the rear of the car for optimum weight distribution (46/54 percent weight distribution front-to-rear with a driver onboard). This allows superior handling.

An optional sequential-manual “F1” six-speed transmission offers manual gear changes with paddles mounted behind the steering wheel — right paddle for upshifts, left paddle for downshifts — or can be left in automatic mode. A sport mode allows better acceleration by holding gears longer so that the engine can rev all the way to redline.

An adaptive suspension varies its calibration according to road conditions, firming up during spirited driving and softening over rough roads. A sport setting stiffens the suspension for the most spirited driving. Likewise, the car’s stability and traction control systems have a sport mode that allows more freedom to drive aggressively before intervening.

As befits its lightweight underpinnings, the 612 Scaglietti’s 2+2 interior is trimmed in aluminum, with impeccably handcrafted leather upholstery throughout. The contoured front sport seats are power-adjustable with a unique headrest design that can be raised and lowered electrically in conjunction with the seatbelt. The rear seat is large enough for two adults to be comfortable on short trips, and the trunk will fit several pieces of luggage.

The instrument panel features large, legible dials and a small screen to the left that displays ancillary information such as engine and oil temperature, or trip information like the number of miles driven. A head unit by Becker is clunky and slow and spoils an otherwise good sound system featuring Bose speakers. Even more odd, though, is the fact that the optional navigation system doesn't come with a color screen. Rudimentary line drawings of roads and intersections — no maps — are displayed on the small dot-matrix screen of the Becker head-unit. Fortunately, directions can be announced by a computerized voice.

Like most exotic cars, the 612 Scaglietti can be customized with any exterior color and interior trim of a client's choosing. Options include a full-size spare tire, special 19-inch wheels, run-flat tires, parking sensors and custom-fitted, six-piece leather luggage designed by Pininfarina. Pricing for these was not available.

Cadillac CTS-V Review

The wickedly fast Cadillac CTS-V is easily one of the best Cadillacs ever. In an effort to take advantage of its recent vogue, Cadillac decided to build high-performance versions of several of its cars. Collectively called the V-Series, they are meant to be high-powered, tight-handling, all-around track-tuned performers in the vein of the European performance marques, such as BMW's M series and Mercedes-Benz's AMG lineup.

2006 Cadillac CTS-V 4dr Sedan Shown

The CTS-V was the first Cadillac to get the V treatment, and it's no exaggeration to call it an enthusiast's dream. Based on the CTS entry-level luxury sedan, the CTS-V has exclusivity stamped all over it. The throaty V8 may get all the publicity, but the CTS-V looks, sounds and drives like a very special car.

As you'd expect, though, the Cadillac CTS-V does share a few inherent flaws with the regular CTS, including an awkward interior design and mediocre interior materials. These attributes will likely be addressed with the second-generation CTS-V, which is expected to follow the launch of the new '08 CTS.

Current Cadillac CTS-V

The Cadillac CTS-V comes in one body style and trim. It is a powerful, rear-wheel-drive midsize luxury sedan. The V6 engine from the standard CTS has been swapped out for a 400-hp 6.0-liter V8, which is the same engine found under the Corvette's hood. A six-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip differential are standard. There is no automatic transmission option. Put the pedal down hard and you can expect to move from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds.

But the performance upgrades go far beyond the bigger engine. Additional highlights include a tightened suspension, massive Brembo performance brakes and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels with performance tires. Antilock brakes and a driver-adjustable stability control system (StabiliTrak) are standard. More subtle adjustments include a strengthened engine cradle and hydraulic engine mounts.

There is a level of sophistication that extends from the performance construction down to the interior features. You get all of the CTS upscale features as standard, including HID headlights, climate control, sport seats and a premium Bose audio system with an in-dash six-CD changer. Even navigation comes standard. Options are limited to paint colors and run-flat tires.

Cadillac has done its best to gussy up the CTS's normally dull interior to make the V-Series sedan feel special. The original instrument cluster has been replaced by more upscale dials and computer readouts, which even spit out real-time driving dynamics, such as lateral G-forces. There are also aluminum and satin chrome accents on the dash. The more heavily bolstered front seats are comfortable and supportive during aggressive driving. As in the regular CTS, the backseat is spacious, which makes the CTS-V more useful on an everyday basis than similarly priced compact rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

In road tests, our editors found the Cadillac CTS-V to be the automotive equivalent of a Fourth of July fireworks celebration. It just oozes enthusiasm and begs to be driven hard. Whether you're pushing hard in a straight line, around long curves or sharp corners, the CTS-V does everything you want from a high-level sport sedan and then some, though its drivetrain exhibits the sort of raggedness that sets it slightly below the standards of its European rivals. But no excuses need to be made for the handling, which is precise and predictable in all conditions.

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