The cars we loved.
The arrival of any new Ferrari is always big news accompanied with press conferences or elaborate productions.
Especially if said new car is a flagship model. The new FF was one of those cars that might have deserved a pop star performance and indoor fireworks show, but instead settled for the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Europe’s most prominent auto show was a fitting venue for a Ferrari that was full of firsts. The Pininfarina designed replacement for un-loved 612 Scaglietti would have all-wheel drive and be a shooting brake hatchback! Shooting brakes are not new for Ferrari (see 1961-62 250GT “Breadvan”), but it’s the first application on a factory sanctioned production car.
Now wealthy people who were not content with a mere Cayenne can take their Ferrari with them. Not only is the FF (meaning Ferrari Four) the most versatile Ferrari since the 400i, it’s the most low-key in recent years. Depending on how you look at, its the most sexy station wagon ever or the most reluctant exotic supercar ever conceived.
Behind the wheel confirms that there’s nothing reluctant or reserved about the FF’s performance. Power comes from a newly developed 6.3L V12. The 651 hp naturally aspirated direct injection engine is the largest Ferrari has ever built for a street car. All that power goes to all the wheels (if you want it to). If the FF’s Ferrari built and designed four-wheel drive system is said to be %50 lighter than the typical systems of lesser cars. Only operating in comfort or snow mode, it shifts power to the wheel that needs it, otherwise its like any other rear wheel driven Ferrari. All this un Ferrari-like traction tech helps the FF deliver a .10 on the skidpad, a figure achieved my F1 race cars. The four wheel drive system is unique where supercars, or even SUV’s are concerned. Instead of using a typical transfer box under the engine to distribute power to both axels, Ferrari uses an odd dual transfer that comes from the front and rear of the engine, essentially creating two transmissions. The front system works up to 5th gear. After 5th, the power is transferred to the rear wheels only. This system produces some odd driving dynamics under extreme conditions, but Ferrari felt that by rasing the engine to allow this dual system would allow the sleek profile expected in a Ferrari. This shift in engineering thinking explains the FF’s place on the higher end of the Ferrari price scale.
Speaking of shifts, the FF uses a 7 speed semi-automatic paddle shift transmission, similar to those in the recent California and 458 Italia. With a top speed of 208 mph and a 0 to 60 time of 3.7 seconds a cargo bay full of groceries and your Pure Bar workout bag will extract no penalty on performance. Amazing considering that the FF is no
lightweight, topping the scales at well over 4,000 lb. The price of over $300,000 guarantees that you will stand out at the slopes littered with Audi, Subaru and SUVs.
Of course the FF has all the creature comforts that come from trees and animal flesh that one could desire in an expensive Italian sports car. As a grand tourer, it represents Ferrari’s gradual movement towards a more manageable supercar on the road and in the service bay. It even has fold down rear seats to maximize cargo space to 28 cubic feet. Ferrari has been offering quite a few surprises in the last couple of years. What’s next? A Minivan or pickup truck? I hope there is never any such car coming from Maaranello, but if Ferrari and Pininfarina can make the station wagon sexy, who knows what they might come up with.