FERRARI FF  - Page - 1
The Ferrari FF was brought to the world for the same reason the brand itself appeared - a game of ambitions. On one side, the Prancing horse had its customers, who were asking for a Ferrari they could drive throughout all seasons. In the other corner sat Enzo’s opposing will, as strong as his look when F1 victory was in sight. Racing was the only thing that touched him, he saw street cars as a compromise needed to sustain his passion. We really wouldn’t want to see his reaction to the launch of the most practical Ferrari ever.

In the end, they did it. They put their badge on a car with four-wheel drive and four seats and they even built its name out of this. Nothing about this car is conventional, from the design to the fact that it uses not one, but two transmissions. Aside from the front-engined layout, it couldn’t be more different in conception to the 612 Scaglietti it replaces.

Since we mentioned the styling, we have to explain that the FF not Ferrari’s first venture into the shooting brake world. The vehicle was penned by Pininfarina, which is also responsible for the 1990s’ 456 four-door station wagon - a few units were built for the Sultan of Brunei.

Going back in time even further, we find multiple one-off Ferrari shooting brakes built by various coach builders. The earliest one dates back to the early 1960s, when Ferrari engineer Giotto Bizzarrini built the 250 GT SWB Breadvan. This was initially a race car that used a strange shape due to aerodynamic purposes, but the vehicle was subsequently adapted for road use.

We mentioned the fact that the FF contradicts Enzo Ferrari’s principles above, but there are also contemporary fans and journalists which have had the word “sacrilege” on their keyboards ever since the car was launched. As for Ferrari’s answer, this is where they followed Enzo’s philosophy - not even a smile was caused by the aforementioned ridiculous attitude, the company simply ignored these critics. Of course, this was all a well-documented business case - times are getting more and more difficult for V12-hearted creations, so smoothing out the path for buyers by making the car easier to live with is the most logical decision Ferrari could’ve made.

Nevertheless, we had some inner demons of our own to throw at the FF - being armed with painful memories like a rush hour Lamborghini Aventador drive or an undesired in-traffic Ferrari 458 powerslide, we set out to see if the FF can spare us of such moments, but still offer the lunacy needed to win our hearts.

One final thought ran through our minds as we were planning the adventure: this would be a Ferrari test drive that would include more than just the usual tarmac driving menu.

Today must be the sunniest day we’ve ever went out to drive a car. The Bianco Italia pearlescent shade of white on our test car hurts our eyes and yet we still can’t take them off the FF.

This Ferrari must be one of the most honest cars we’ve ever met, as its unconventional styling perfectly gives away its outside-the-box nature. For example, its dimensions alone make it easy to guess that you’ll have considerably more room inside than in the case of its predecessor, the 612 Scaglietti.

The two are similar in size, with the exception of the height, where the FF brings an extra 1.4 inches (35.5 mm). Don’t worry though, it’s still got smooth Ferrari GT proportions - we could see this even before we got close to the FF when picking it up.

This is a Ferrari that smiles at you from the first moment you meet each other - its V12 sits up front, so it needs a generous mouth to feed itself with air. As for the headlights, the new Ferrari design seems to suit the FF better than the 458.

Speaking of the 458, you’ll find a much cleaner aerodynamic work on the FF - there are less air intakes and vets to disturb the styling. It all starts with the vents on the front wings, which are used for exhaling the air that cools the engine compartment.

The profile of the Ferrari FF has all the attributes of a GT, such as muscular shoulders and smooth areas like the nicely integrated door handles, but the most striking part is the upper one. The greenhouse is a discrete work of art and the roofline deserves a medal for bringing the shooting brake notion back on the automotive scene. As for the 20-inch wheels, these seem like a natural fit for the size of the car.

The rear of the Ferrari FF is the most elaborated part of the car. This mixes parts that have a gentle styling, such as the window, with the elements below, which use bold shapes.

As we stare into the taillights that remind us of the Enzo, we are attracted by the complex shapes surrounding them. There are also two air vents on the outer sides of the apron, which repel turbulence. They follow the “divide et impera” principle, separating the air flow along the sides of the car.

These work together with the rear diffuser, which has an unconventional layout. This uses three areas, with its middle one sporting a gentle curve to better dispose of the air coming from under the car, while also increasing downforce. As for the side areas of the diffuser, these use an unconventional concave shape to assure an even spread of the depression along the undertray.

When we first met the Ferrari FF via our computer screens we weren’t entirely seduced, but seeing it in bare metal made the car win us over.

Complexity - this is the first word that comes to mind once you open the broad door and enter the world of the Ferrari FF. The designers have played with the styling in a way that increases the impression of space inside the cabin.

As you climb into your seat, the seat belt arrives at your shoulder using an electrically powered arm - the car is inviting you to press the red engine start button on the steering wheel and set off. For now, we are respectfully asking it to... hold its horses, as we have a cabin to explore first.

The driver gets to grasp the same steering wheel as in the 458 Italia, albeit with different Manettino settings. Once again you are forced to trade steering column control ergonomics for the ability to use the paddles without anything standing in your way.

The paddles themselves are generously sized and a joy to use, but the aforementioned setup does bring problems. All the controls that would normally sit on the column, from the turn signals to the wipers, have been moved on the steering wheel. The resulting arrangement is cluttered. While you can live with it under normal conditions, a panic situation may find you desperately searching for a control that’s not where it’s supposed to be.

You are treated with Ferrari’s characteristic super-sized rev counter in the middle, which is flanked by two 5-inch displays. On your left, you receive all sorts of vehicle information, from Vehicle Dynamic Assistance, which shows various parameters controlled via the Manettino, to the trip computer and parking sensors. The screen on the right is used for showing the speedometer, as well as the certain infotainment features and the camera system images.

The main infotainment role is played by a 6.5-inch touch screen display placed on the center console. While this offers decent navigation features, it is unfortunately the same unit you’ll find in a Jeep Wrangler.

Right below you find Ferrari’s usual climate control interface, which also remind us of the Wrangler, a car that costs as much as an average FF buyers spends on optionals alone.

In fact, the gadgets are the Achilles' Heel when it comes to the cabin of the Ferrari FF, but we'll talk more about this in their dedicated chapter.

The center console is split in two, featuring a partial floating design. The lower side starts with three buttons that handle the dual-clutch gearbox, including the launch control feature.

As our hands grasp the handles positioned on the center console, we can’t help think that we’ve seen such a setup before, on the Porsche Cayenne.

However, as you spend more time inside the Ferrari FF, you notice the pleasant attention to details. Regardless of your position in the car, you can play with sweet-looking air vents: our fingers are pleased as they turned the little Prancing Horse in the center of each vent.

The feeling of space we had when we first got in wasn’t just an impression - the interior provides plenty of room up front and decent space in the back. The frontal area offers an interesting sensation by mixing the low seating position with the space and visibility - the only thing that could disturb you is the massive fire extinguisher placed close to the entry sill. Mind due, this is an option feature.

You can show your front passenger some respect by ordering an optional display placed in front of him. This shows car parameters and trip information, unfortunately in a monochrome form.

Pull the aluminum handle placed on the side of the rear seat and this will electrically move forward, offering you reasonable access to the rear seats. We tested Ferrari’s claim of a perfect rear accommodation for passengers up to 6 ft. 1 in. (1.85m) and our bodies said “yes”. Two adults can fit here, but when discussing absolute comfort, they will feel the need for more space during long trips.

In the back, the center console that extends between the seats offers a feeling of intimacy and since you sit a tad higher than the front seat occupants, you also get a good view of what’s happening on the road in front of you.

We applaud the FF for its packaging: not only does is manage to offer an engine bay long enough for the V12 unit and the second gearbox, as well as a cabin that can accommodate four adults, but it also comes with a generous luggage compartment.

We are talking about 15.9 cubic feet (450 liters) of space, but this is just a part of the story. First of all, the boot is accessible via a hatch and nothing trumps the feeling of being able to carelessly use this in order to drop some shopping bags in. There is a twist though - you can’t have a Grand Tourer without a spare wheel and this takes away some of the space in the boot, despite being placed in a way that allows you to store items inside of it.

The Ferrari FF shows great versatility: each of the rear seats can be folded individually, while there’s also a center section in between them that offers the same asset. This can lead to multiple combinations and the FF ultimately offers a maximum space of 28.3 cubic feet (800 liters). To this, you can add 0.7 cubic feet (20 liters) of storage space spread across multiple compartments conveniently placed around the interior.

Ferrari's FF packs many assets into its cabin, staying true to its GT character. There are certain flaws, but these are overcome by what the interior has to offer.

It’s been more than a few hours now and the twelve cylinders seem to have no problem with being given dozens of commands per minute, as required by the agitated urban traffic. In fact, there’s no part of the car that’s complaining too badly about this prolonged city driving.

The double-clutch unit at the back offers imperceptible shifts, slightly modulating the V12’s calm exhaust gas flow - at the kind of low revs used in the city, the engine is rather quiet, especially since we used the “comfort” Manettino mode.

While out on the open road the steering feels a bit too much on the light side, its setup is ideal for traveling inside the city - you feel no strain as you move along and position this technical monstrosity.

The suspension provides the desired comfort and if you happen to reach an area with a rougher road surface, or live in a city that’s defined by this, you can press a button on the steering wheel and use a softer setting.

The FF does feature a lift system, but, in typical Ferrari fashion, this only works up to 25 mph (40 km/h), so you have to touch its button each time you encounter a speed bump, you can’t just leave it on and drive - annoying.

This Ferrari provides good front and side visibility and also comes with serious assistance for when things get tight. It offers a list of optional parking cameras that cover the front (simple and dual-view to the sides) and the rear, matching this with parking sensors. When you park, all these features translate into normal maneuvering, the FF doesn’t give us a hard time.

The Ferrari FF packs enough emotion to be able to offer you a special experience even at city speeds. There certain comparisons coming to our minds at this point of the chapter and we just can’t help but share them with you. First and foremost, we’ll mention that even though this is a bit more difficult to drive in the city compared to the Ferrari 458, we prefer it thanks to the aforementioned asset, which is not quite true for the V8 model.

We’ll also explain that it doesn’t feel as alive as the Lamborghini Aventador did at 30 mph (50 km/h), but the Bull’s single-clutch gearbox and visibility were deadly enemies of the city, whereas the FF copes with it rather well.

The Ferrari FF’s EPA rating for city driving sits at 11 mpg (21.4 liters per 100 km), but you’d have to be a yoga and a driving instructor at the same time to achieve that. The fuel efficiency is, in fact, the only major issue of driving an FF inside the city. Ferrari does offer an optional HELE (High Emotions Low Emissions) system, which includes features like a start-stop system. Our test car wasn’t gifted with it though, so we had to face the city alone.

The Ferrari FF is about as close as a V12-powered machine can get to when it comes to getting along with the city. If you leave the fuel efficiency apart, you won’t have too many problems using this Grand Tourer on urban roads.

The cabin is flooded with the grace of the engine and as the speed increases, the FF becomes even more eager to show us what it’s capable of. For now it’s enough, we gradually ease off the throttle and and stark seeking the Grand Tourer nature of this Ferrari.

Despite being motivated by the largest engine ever fitted to a Ferrari road car, the FF is extremely easy to drive. If you want, the aforementioned soundtrack becomes a mild symphony and the powerplant is more than happy to cruise along under 2,000 rpm in seventh gear.

The double-clutch gearbox makes sure that you get to the top gear smoothly. The same word can be used for the ride, which, apart from being a bit unsettled on rare occasions, is pleasant.

In between these comfortable bits and pieces, the Ferrari FF hides driving thrills that keep you connected throughout the journey - a short outburst of the exhaust or the feeling of road adhesion through the curves. You really don’t need to go fast in order to enjoy the character of this car.

There is one complain though and that concerns the engine braking - the FF is quick to reduce speed whenever you take your foot off the throttle. That’s excellent if you’re in a hurry, but when you use the “Comfort” setting of the Manettino a more fluent movement would’ve been welcome. This and some extra protection against the sun on the side windows.

During our test drive, we were never in a hurry - we didn’t have to get anywhere in a certain time, so we opened the throttle wide for pure pleasure.

The pulling power is overwhelming, as if gears or revs wouldn’t exist and when it comes to gear changes, you’ll be in the next ratio before you know it. As you get close to the 8,000 rpm rev limit, you enter a new dimension of this car and meet its sharp side.

The steering is superior to that in the 458, as it offers the same excellent feedback but is not all that light anymore. We would’ve liked an even firmer setup in the “Sport” Manettino position though. The FF is very eager to turn in and shows absolutely no respect for the notion of body roll.

The pedal on the left brings one of the best forms of modulation we’ve ever met, not just in the world of carbon ceramic brakes but in general. As for the deceleration power, this is a perfect tool to get you out of many situations.

Thanks to the weight distribution and the four-wheel drive setup, the handling is neutral. This has to be the least understeering car we’ve ever driven. The Ferrari FF may weight almost 4,200 lbs (1,900 kg), but it doesn’t feel like it. Instead, it’s agile and happy to follow all your commands.

When the electronic guardian angels are watching, you don’t get oversteer either, but we headed to a track in order to see what happens when we send them to handle harp singing.

On the circuit, we became friends to the ESC Off position of the Manettino and discovered that the FF does show a tad of initial understeer, followed by a slight reduction in the otherwise amazing speed increase through the corners. If you insist, this Ferrari will turn its rear tires into smoke, but you do end up running a bit wide on certain occasions - the car doesn’t have a particular appetite for this kind of driving and this is because it was set up not to. Time to move on then.

The dunes are flying past at an amazing speed, especially since we’re seeing them mainly through the side windows. Ferrari has a strong presence in the Middle East, so we decided to test the FF’s low grip abilities on sand rather than snow and ice.

With the Manettino set to the ESC Off position, the FF makes an astonishing dancer when grip is low, being quite eager to push its rear end out under heavy throttle. Since the front wheels only receive traction as an aid, the oversteer dominates the game, it’s not a neutral balance. You basically feel you’re in a RWD car that benefits of some front axle help once things start to get dangerously sideways. Thus, you have to apply less throttle than in other AWD performance machines in order to drift.

In poor grip situations like this, the light steering of the FF is perfect and the suspension can cope with the various irregularities in a brilliant way.

As we finish drawing on the sand, we look at the center console and thank the ECU hidden inside of it for the bewildering precision of the handling. On our way back to the road, we place the Manettino in the “Ice-Snow” position - the car doesn’t deviate from its trajectory no matter how hard we push the throttle, offering an impressive peace of mind.

Definitions need updating every once in a while in order to keep up with the times and the FF has just done that for the Grand Tourer segment.
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autoevolution Mar 2013
In the city
Open road
Tech facts
80user rating 34 votes
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