February 3, 2011
Axis gets a look at the Ferrari FF
Last week, CG and I had a chance to see the latest from Maranello, up close and personal at Ferrari North America HQ. We got to look at it, sit in it, touch the leather, look under the hood and got a quick technical briefing given by an envoy from Maranello. We have to share even if we can't show pictures!
As you can see from the shot above, it was the perfect weather to be introduced to the first production Ferrari with four wheel drive (the first Ferrari 4wd was the never produced 408). The car was in that white box on the right, let's have a "look" after the jump...
First, I suppose, the looks: We both loved it, it's huge but it looks much more proportioned and elegant than the 612 Scaglietti ever did. Where the 612 looked goofy from the front, the FF looks mean and aggressive while maintaining some classic Ferrari elements from 12 cylinder front engined cars past, most notable the shark mouth with the chrome grille (which will available also in black and, for the Dubai market, fully chrome clad). The lights recall those on the 458. This thing will look mean in rear view mirrors.
Getting back to the bulk of this car, we figured that between the driver's head and the opposite front corner you could easily fir a FIAT 500
Now the more controversial part of the car, the Z3 MCoupe rear. Well, it's a great shape and while some will hate it, we say kudos to Ferrari for going with something which is both funky and functional. The rear view is spectacular, the wing that is part of the diffuser is a fantastic detail. The technical briefing went over how the car has all these subtle shapes, including the curvature of the roof, studied to accelerate the air and minimize the vacuum behind the car that a hatchback usually creates (the Z3M Coupe for example has a worse Cx than the brick shaped e30).
It would be fair to describe the shape a challenging, but less so than a Panamera or even an X6! People's conception of luxury cars is changing and Ferrari is right to be pushing the envelope there.
The interior is as you would expect, fully clad and wrapped in fantastic quality leather, even the trunk in this particular Grigio Metallizzato example.
The dash is a mix of the 458, with many controls on the wheel and a center console similar to the California.
The Nav/infotainment system is apparently state of the art but I found the touch screen system completely non user friendly and with disappointing graphics.
There is plenty of room for two passengers in the back, not midgets, regular human beings with legs can sit with another regular sized human comfortable in the front. There is room for a good amount of luggage. The rear seats fold down and you can carry a bike, there is a ski bag.
A ski bag on a Ferrari, that's the key. Ferrari apparently determined that a substantial number of its potential customer were buying Bentleys and Panameras and liked to go skiing...but this can also be seen as continuation of the effort by Maranello to produce cars people will actually drive rather than just wax (or have waxed).
The 4wd system is brilliant, it's a Ferrari patent developed over six years ago. Half the weight of any other all wheel drive system, it works with two completely separate gearboxes one rear transaxle and one mounter transversely in front of the engine. There are two driveshafts and is no center differential.
The front gearbox has two forward gears and reverse with one clutch per axle. It's geared so that first will overlap first and second gear on the main rear transmission, second will cover third and fourth in the back. From fifth gear up the car is only driven by the rear wheels. It all sounds complicated but the idea is to minimize weight, mechanical losses and loss of the traditional rear wheel drive feel. The FF is in effect a RWD car up to the point when the computers detect there is excessive slippage, then up to 30% of the torque is vectored up front.
Performance is a claimed 3.7 sec to 0-62mph, 11 sec to 125 mph. Brakes are the same second generation Carbon as on the GTO but with less aggressive pads.
So, slap the snow tires and go skiing? Why not, If CG buys one, I'm sure he'll do it. The average Ferrari driver? I wonder.
For sure the number of excuses for leaving the car in the garage is quickly shrinking in Maranello!
I'm hoping CG will have some time to jump in and discuss, if you have any questions or thoughts, by all means...
end of post