The four-time champions fire a wheel at their 'Aeroscreen' at 140mph...
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The Top Gear car review:Ferrari FF
For:Space for four, a V12 to die for, clever 4x4 and exceptional to drive
Against:Not as sexy as a 458 or F12. Well, not quite
What we say:
A 4x4 with the performance of a Ferrari and the practicality of an estate. Controversial but great
What is it?
The most ground-breaking Ferrari in recent history. The FF is a four-seat, four-wheel drive (hence the name) ‘shooting brake’ which means that it’s a bit like a cross between a coupe and an estate car. Two doors, four proper seats, Ferrari’s first ever production 4x4 system; the FF really is a departure for the Italian marque, and a success for all that. Powered by a front mid-mounted 6.2-litre, 660bhp V12, the FF replaces the 612 Scaglietti as the Ferrari GT of choice.
Apprehension ruled when Ferrari announced that the FF would be 4x4; many people thought that a Ferrari should be rear-wheel-drive or nothing. It’s also a big thing – only 40mm shorter than a Scaglietti – so there was a worry it would feel unwieldy. All for nothing. The heart of the setup is a new kind of 4x4 system that relies on a conventional seven-speed DSG gearbox to drive the rear wheels and a second gearbox with a pair of gears bolted to the front of the engine. The second ‘gearbox’ is described as a PTU or power take-off, and shoves power to the front wheels via a pair of wet clutches. Sounds complicated, but essentially means that the 4x4 on an FF is compact and more controllable than a traditional system that relies on a series of propshafts and extra differentials.
There’s also the added advantage of torque-vectoring – the FF can throw power at a gripping tyre to curb unwanted understeer – whereas most cars use ESP to brake an inside wheel. It’s more fun than it sounds.
On the inside
The big news is that this is one practical Ferrari. The rear seats will swallow a pair of reasonably sized adult humans, and with the seats up the boot is a very respectable 450 litres of large.
Flip the seats down – yes, this is a Ferrari with folding seats – and you get 800 litres. Not quite a Transit, but enough to cope happily with real life. All this in a car that’ll hit 62mph in 3.7 seconds and do 208mph. From the driver’s seat, it’s all Ferrari – ‘manettino’ switch on the wheel, paddleshift DSG gearbox, buttery leather.
The list price of £227,077 means that the FF is never going to be Focus levels of common, and the insurance and tax bandings might as well have bright red warning signs on them. This is not a cheap car. But if you do get to drive one, realising that the way the front wheels draw the car through and out of the apex of a corner means that you won’t care one bit. A few things to remember: the FF also gets new SCM3 adaptive damping, so can switch between track hard and motorway cruise, and the carbon-ceramic brakes are worth having. One for the dream garage for trans-European trips to the ski chalet? If only the F12 didn’t exist…