Ferrari: the very mention of the name brings a sense of wonder to car lovers across the world. The image that springs to mind is one of sleek, stylish and very sexy supercars, usually in the traditional red, and with that iconic Prancing Horse badge prominent. But what about the Ferrari FF?
Ferrari’s are fast, exclusive and very Italian, and come with fabulous engines that sing a song of sensuous, stunning tones, and every one is treasured for a lifetime. That’s the story we’re told, but in truth there have been some misses among the hits emerging from Maranello in recent years. Take the F40 – blindingly fast and a driver’s delight, simple and unadorned – a modern classic. Then take a look at its successor, the F50. Be honest, the older car is miles better than the fresher model, and that’s before we get to the decidedly awkward, if spectacular, Enzo. But enough eulogizing about the marque, we’re here to talk about a car that has divided opinion, arguably like none before it.
The Ferrari FF – A New World at Maranello
The Ferrari FF – we’re told FF stands for ‘Ferrari Four’ which gives it the awkward full name ‘Ferrari Ferrari Four’ – is the car in question, a radical departure from the company’s usual philosophy.
Why so radical? Let’s start with the fact this is a four wheel drive car. There have been four wheel drive supercars before – not least the ground-breaking Jensen FF (recognize the name?), an Interceptor with four wheel drive – but not from Ferrari. The shock waves it caused upon announcement were colossal, and with good reason. This is, without doubt, a major departure for Ferrari, and one that will have the traditionalists spilling their tea as they read of the latest member of the family.
The first question that many an observer asked was the obvious one: why has Ferrari built it? They claim it is a ‘revolution in the automotive world’. It is certainly a revolution in Ferrari’s world, but many luxury and supercar makers have four wheel drive models which, as the claim continues, offer ‘…four comfortable seats that cocoon driver and occupants alike’. Nevertheless, the radical thinking is something that we should perhaps welcome, although it is difficult to see where anyone could actually use the ability that a four wheel drive Ferrari offers.
Controversial & Ground Breaking – The Ferrari FF
Let’s move on, and talk about the other controversial aspect of the FF – its looks. Pininfarina has been responsible for some of the most beautiful cars of all time, and some of the most beautiful Ferrari’s. It’s safe to say that if you think the FF is among them you are in a minority. It is by no means an ugly car – the front echoes the current Ferrari ‘in house’ design with the wide grill and swept back lights – but it is hard to describe it as anything other than ‘awkward’.
Glance at it from the side and it is the BMW Z3 Coupe that springs to mind. That is not a good thing, in my eyes anyway. Yes, the lines are sleek and the treatment in some parts very elegant, but it looks as though the front and back are from different vehicles. This is personal opinion, of course, and you may absolutely love it. As one who thinks the 456 the best looking car Ferrari has produced for decades, my taste is clearly defined.
Four seat Ferrari’s are not unusual – the gloriously pretty and simply stylish 400/412 is an example of how it can be done – and for many will be welcome, but there are still questions abounding about the Ferrari FF. As said earlier there is no easy answer to the question of why Ferrari has chosen to build this car, apart from the possibility that they wanted to push the boundaries, and to make waves.
Power and Glory – Ferrari FF Performance
Now for the technical bits, and let’s start with that four wheel drive system. An in-house development, the power is largely to the back wheels with the front being fed torque via an intelligent system of distribution as and when it is needed. This in itself is a technological tour de force, but also raises the question of exactly when a family of four is going to go off-roading in a Ferrari. It’s best to imagine the four wheel drive system is there for safety in treacherous conditions.
One area where Ferrari comes out on top, without exception, is with the engine. Ferrari’s are famed for their fantastically advanced and beautifully built power-plants, and this one is a very fine example indeed. For a start, it’s that most iconic of Ferrari configurations, a V12. We love V12’s, no matter how out of place they may be in these days of frugality and economy. This one is new for the FF, too.
We know you love the figures, so here are the ones that matter: 6262cc, 660bhp, and 683nm of torque. That’s a pretty impressive engine in anyone’s book. It also makes the FF the most powerful four seater in the world today. Performance is also sensational: 208mph (335kmh) top speed, 0-60mph (100kmh) in 3.7 seconds, and 120mph (200kmh) in 11 seconds. That’s not bad at all four a four seater!
So What do You Think?
Technically, then, this is very impressive automobile, and inside it features all the usual Ferrari refinements, a seven speed dual clutch transmission, superb braking capability and the ultimate in comfort – that ‘cocoon’ really is among the most stylish and comfortable places to be on the move.
But there are those questions, and those looks. They are big ‘buts’, too. Why would you buy one of these when you can get a luxury Mercedes, top of the range BMW, Lexus or other top line brand? Well, because it’s a Ferrari, is the first and most obvious answer. That’s a good reason, but is it so good when the gorgeous, and very desirable, Maserati Quattroporte is available in four wheel drive, and offers all the refinement at a much lower price?
Ferrari FF Price
The price, we almost forgot the Ferrari FF price: £227,000, which is approximately €272,000 (in the USA the price is: $359,000). That’s not bad given this is a Ferrari, but consider that a (two wheel drive) Quattroporte is less than £100,000, which is approximately €119,000 (in the USA: $153,000) and you begin to see why the sister company’s product may be a better buy.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s have a look at how the FF drives. Contemporary reviews are few and far between, but all talk of the sensational grip that the FF is party too, this being no surprise given the four wheel drive system. Phrases such as ‘the most drivable Ferrari’ abound, which indicates that the company has produced a winner. Albeit, and I say it again, an odd looking one.
There is one thing that needs to be said about the car, and I’ve deliberately left it to the latter part of the story. The styling is heavily influenced by the fact the Ferrari FF is a hatchback. To be more precise, it would be fitting to use the favored UK term of ‘shooting brake’. This is a car that you could happily load up with your golf clubs, Purdey’s or a suite of luggage in the more than ample space at the back. That gives it a sort of practicality that no other Ferrari can even think about offering.
So, what we have is – as Ferrari claim – a revolution at Maranello, one that may upset the purists without even trying. It is not the best looking car on the road, but those gawky, somewhat odd lines do grow on you, and it looks much better in the flesh. It performs to a high standard, with superb levels of comfort, and offers sensational grip. It is a car that will continue to divide opinion during and beyond its lifetime.
However, I can see the Ferrari FF becoming something of a cult car, thanks in no small part to its sheer uniqueness. There is, quite simply, nothing else like this on the road today. Nor, I might add, is there likely to be in the foreseeable future. Get used to its looks, and you may well want one.