New & Used Ferrari FF: In Depth
2015 Ferrari FF - Quick Drive, February 2015Enlarge Photo
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The Ferrari FF is a three-door luxury, high-performance hatchback—the only one of its kind. It’s also Ferrari’s first-ever all-wheel-drive vehicle, bringing a new level of practicality to the luxury, performance, and style the brand is already known for.
It's difficult to pick a vehicle that rivals the FF's unique skill set, but the Bentley Continental GT Speed is on the very short list. The Bentley can't rival the practicality of the FF's hatch, but it does at least include standard all-wheel drive and an available 12-cylinder engine.
The FF made its debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, joining a full Ferrari lineup that included the 458 Italia, 458 Spider, California, and F12 Berlinetta. At this point, it is one of Ferrari's older current models. The FF's styling has been polarizing, to say the least, with some saying it's beautiful and others claiming it is too far from the Ferrari norm, and more still who like it despite its break with tradition.
The powertrain wastes little time with controversy, however. The potent 651-hp, 6.3-liter V-12 engine enables a top speed of 208 mph and accelerates the FF to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch paddle-shift automatic, and power is sent to all four wheels.
Perhaps taking a cue from the body shape, the FF's four-wheel-drive system is itself a bit out of the ordinary. Instead of using a transfer case to route power to the front and rear, Ferrari hangs a second transmission off the front of the engine to handle sending torque to the front axle. The system, called 4RM by Ferrari, uses a computer to decide when the front wheels get to join in and how much torque they get.
The front gearbox, which goes by the agricultural-sounding name of Power Takeoff Unit (PTU), employs just two gears plus reverse, enabling the full four-wheel-drive application of power in the main transmission's first through fourth gears through a system of constant-slip Haldex clutches--with no differential. A maximum of 20 percent of the engine's torque can be transmitted to the front wheels. This unconventional layout allows the Ferrari FF's four-wheel-drive system to tip the scales at about half the weight of a traditional solution, as well as maintain an excellent-for-dynamics 47/53-percent front/rear weight distribution.
Even with its out-there styling and nonconformist drive system, the FF is still a real Ferrari with everything that goes along with it: a handcrafted interior made of the finest materials, a sporting ride that's not too rough, and modern details everywhere. Like nearly all Ferraris at this point, the FF uses a magnetorheological suspension to allow for adjustment between responsive and coddling, depending on driver wishes and road conditions.
The FF is certainly one of Ferrari's most useful cars, with up to 28.2 cubic feet of cargo space thanks to its shooting brake layout, and four seats. While few will be able to make the $302,000 super sports car their daily driver, it is nevertheless up to the job--that is, if you can tolerate the 11-mpg city and 17-mpg highway (for 13 mpg combined average) EPA fuel-economy ratings. Even the kids will love the FF, as there's an available rear-seat entertainment system that offers two screens for DVD-watching, and a 1,280-Watt, sixteen-channel, Quantumlogic Surround Sound audio system.
Should you wish to have your FF built with something more than the ordinary equipment, Ferrari has you covered with its Tailor Made program, which was launched in the U.S. in 2012 with a factory-customized FF at Pebble Beach. And if you're an F1 fan, there's even more reason to join the FF owner's club: then-Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso was awarded one for winning the Malaysian Grand Prix. Even the Dubai police force is lucky enough to own an FF.
Rumor has it that an updated FF will arrive soon with more power, likely from a turbocharged engine. Ferrari bosses have said that all new models from now on will use turbochargers, with some also adding hybridization like the LaFerrari hypercar. The California T convertible was the first of the recent regular-production models to receive a turbocharged engine.