Road tests

New Ferrari Daytona SP3 2022 review

The Ferrari Daytona SP3 offers a pure-petrol V12, blistering performance and incredible looks in an ultra-exclusive package

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Ferrari’s third model in its Icona series is unique - it’s the only mid-engined special so far, and the Daytona SP3 lives up to its billing. It’s a pure hypercar, with a pure-petrol, naturally aspirated V12 powertrain. Performance is ferocious, but the chassis and handling are a match. It’s an emotional, thrilling car, the Daytona SP3, a celebration of the Italian brand’s V12 that we’ll miss so much when it’s gone.

The Daytona SP3 is the latest instalment in Ferrari’s Icona range, which began with the SP1 and SP2 Monzas – single and twin-seat large roadsters without windscreens, based on the brand’s 812 Superfast road car – that were inspired by the sports car racers of the fifties. 

The Icona range is about taking specific inspiration from a successful period of Ferrari’s past, and then reimagining it with the latest technology, the range sitting beside the ultimate Ferrari hypercars at the top of the tree - and priced accordingly. For the SP3, Ferrari has turned to its curvaceous racing sports cars of the sixties, in particular the Daytona 24 Hour-winning P4 of 1967, hence the Daytona SP3’s name. 

To realise this concept, Ferrari has taken the carbon fibre chassis of the LaFerrari hypercar from nearly 10 years ago, in open ‘Aperta’ form, and substantially reworked it to meet current safety legislation. It has then taken the so-far ultimate version of its V12 engine - a 6.5-litre unit as used in the 812 Competizione - and evolved it with a completely new intake and exhaust system to liberate a further 10bhp, bringing the total to a staggering 829bhp. It is the most powerful internal combustion fitted to a Ferrari road car. 

The rest of the Daytona is a logical use of Ferrari’s latest hardware, such as various chassis systems (such as the e-diff), carbon-ceramic brakes and the cockpit infotainment and driver displays from the 296 GTB. Nevertheless, there are plenty of examples of Ferrari putting the effort in to create a complete, polished car, such as the development of a bespoke Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyre for the SP3. Most of all though, it’s about the car’s sense of style, borne from a truly spectacular exterior design and a pod-like interior that mixes strong themes of the P4 with a futuristic vibe. On the road it is absolutely wild. 

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It takes some contortion to get in behind the wheel, but once you’re there the view out is spectacular through the domed windscreen. You sit on one-piece hammock style seats formed from draping electric blue material over the tub itself, while the carbon fibre roof panel lifts out as the Daytona SP3 is a roadster. There’s also a temporary canvas roof that can be fitted in the advent of rain, as the main roof panel cannot be stowed in the car. 

The big appeal of the SP3, certainly to enthusiasts, is that it brings Ferrari’s powerful V12 together with a mid-engined chassis - and yet without any sort of electrification in sight. That makes it a more traditional offering, as per its brief, although you do get Ferrari’s latest seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. There is plenty of aerodynamic work at play too, although Ferrari is quick to point out that the SP3 hasn’t been developed with ultimate lap times in mind - rather as something that’s simply fun and rewarding to drive. 

The resulting performance is absolutely huge: 0-62mph is listed as 2.9 seconds, but the sheer potency of the SP3 is unbelievable. It is genuinely a challenge to exceed 5,000rpm on the road, and once the engine is working up at 9,000rpm you daren’t take your eyes off the rapidly approaching horizon even to check the instrumentation. The volume and quality of the V12’s exhaust note is also exceptional, and initially it’s difficult to think past this. However, soon you realise that the steering is wonderfully accurate and well weighted, and that there’s a clear sense of how each corner of the car is working. It’s a monster, but you do learn to trust it, to gently tease its limits and to enjoy the feeling of the chassis working hard.

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In a way, these dynamic rewards are a bonus, because for many the SP3 will be bought as an art piece - something to park in a very exclusive garage, alongside many other priceless classics. Talking of price, an SP3 would have cost £1.7 million, and we’re talking in past tense intentionally as they are all sold - buying was by invitation only. That’s a lot of money, but then the SP3 is quite some car.

Price: £1.7 million

6.5-litre V12 petrol

Power/torque: 829bhp/697Nm

Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive

0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
Top speed: >211mph


On sale: Sold out

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