One of the highlights of the Ferrari F12tdf unveiled earlier this week is its “Virtual Short Wheelbase” rear-wheel steering system. Ferrari isn’t the first manufacturer to try rear-wheel steering, and like the others who have, it claims these systems can increase handling agility. But how exactly does it do that?
As detailed in the video above, the Ferrari system steers the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels when entering a corner. This allows the car to turn in more quickly, effectively making it better at devouring more sections of road or track. Ferrari also claims the system allowed it to fit wider front tires to the F12tdf.
The exact amount of rear-wheel steering angle is determined by a model-based control logic that takes into account steering-wheel angle, the speed of steering inputs, and the vehicle’s speed. Ferrari claims this system will allow customers to take better advantage of the F12tdf’s performance by improving responsiveness, as well as high-speed stability.
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Ferrari isn’t the only carmaker that thinks steering more wheels is better. Porsche introduced a rear-wheel steering system on the 911 Turbo, GT3, and GT3RS, which is now migrating to more mainstream 911 models. It has the ability to steer the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels to improve maneuverability at low speeds, making the cars easier to park. It also steers the rear wheels with the fronts at higher speeds for better handling.
Rear-wheel steering was also one of the “it” technologies on 1990s Japanese performance cars like the Honda Prelude and Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4, and was even offered on General Motors pickup trucks for a time. But this nifty-sounding feature just hasn’t made much of an impression with consumers in the past.
But even if buyers aren’t impressed by the rear-wheel steering, there’s still plenty about the F12tdf that should attract attention. Named after the Tour de France endurance race, it features an upgraded version of the standard F12 Berlinetta’s 6.3-liter V12, with 780 horsepower and 520 pound-feet of torque. It’s also got a faster-shifting transmission, numerous aerodynamic upgrades, and a lighter curb weight.
F12tdf production will be limited to 799 units, priced at an undisclosed amount you probably can’t afford.