We were in Maranello not so long ago. In time to see the spectacular new body shop, paint shop, wind-tunnel and other changes at Ferrari’s head –office.
Only Ferrari could – with the help of some famous Italian architects – make an automotive paint shop look as spectacular as the Sydney Opera House. But that’s the ‘Prancing Horse’ for you.
Our mate, the charismatic Luca Di Montezemolo, has retired from the President’s office and Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne is now steering the ship at Maranello. Of course it will be some time before the first models created under his stewardship see the light of day.
In the meantime, Ferrari has launched the 488, the successor to the 458 Italia (and there’s some big shoes to fill right there). And, from the V12 department (they’re made in a different hall to the V8s) we still have the F12 and four-seat FF.
2015 Ferrari FF Overview
‘FF’ means Ferrari Four – as in four-wheel-drive and four seats. The FF arrived amidst some consternation from the enthusiasts who reckoned such a car was not part of the Ferrari DNA.
We beg to differ. In fact your Car Showroom correspondent recalls a discussion at the Geneva Motor Show with former Mr Di Montezemolo (who was a confidante of Enzo Ferrari) who enthused that not only was the FF a game-changer and technological triumph for which Ferrari is renowned, it’s a car Ferrari customers were demanding.
Our car was a Ferrari FF ‘Tailor Made’. So while the recommended retail price for the FF is $625,000, pricing for our test car was a bit more…
…‘Tailor Made’ is Ferrari’s individualization program – to be honest, for personalization only Rolls-Royce comes close Ferrari – and our car was tagged the Ferrari FF ‘Golf’. For golf enthusiasts like us, this was perfect as, amongst the massive changes to the FF we drove, the extras included a thin tartan stripe in the seats (very St Andrews!) and an $11,000 pure leather golf bag customized for the cargo area (although perhaps sensing we might head-out for 18 holes, the golf bag stayed in Sydney when the car was sent to us in Melbourne).
Other highlights were the magnificent carbon fibre steering wheel and gorgeous dashboard also in carbon fibre (they’re around $7K each), special metallic white paint and the $30,000 sunroof which has often been mentioned since the FF was first launched.
So all-up our car was stickered at north of $920,000. Not the most expensive car we’ve driven (that would be the Lexus LFA at a cool $1.0 million) but still an astonishing price…
…for an astonishing car let’s be honest.
2015 Ferrari FF Engine
Unquestionably there simply isn’t a more legendary combination in sports car history than a Ferrari with a V12 engine. We love the V8s but it’s a little sad that the V12 these days is only found in the FF and the F12.
For the FF, the 6.3-litre Maranello masterpiece delivers its 495kW at an ear-shattering 8000rpm and peak torque of 683Nm is delivered at 6000rpm. The Ferrari FF performs the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.7 seconds.
But it’s how all of this V12 goodness gets transferred to the road which is really interesting. And both a superb technical achievement and a milestone for Ferrari.
At the rear is a transaxle (favoured for weight distribution in many serious sports cars) with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Completely separate to this, at the front and providing drive to the front wheels is a power transfer unit (Ferrari calls it PTU) comprising a two-speed transmission with multi-plate clutches connected directly to the engine’s crankshaft.
Ferrari calls this set-up ‘4RM’ and went in this direction (not surprisingly) because of its weight savings over run-of-the-mill all-wheel-drive systems with a centre differential and the rest. According to Ferrari ‘4RM’is a whopping 50 per-cent lighter than those conventional systems and means this front-engined V12 supercar still has more than half of its weight over the rear axle.
Ferrari FF The Interior
Italian design flair, F1 technology, gorgeous leather, superb thick carpets, carbon fibre – as you would expect from a Ferrari wearing this price tag our FF showed it all inside. And it’s with interiors as much as anywhere else that Ferrari still holds a considerable advantage over rival supercar brands.
In our Ferrari FF ‘golf’ the interior was a combination of a Gulfstream private jet, F1 cockpit and the ‘Members Only’ locker room at say St Andrews, Pebble Beach or Cypress Point. Not how some would envision a Ferrari perhaps but…well there’s a lot of money in private golf club membership.
So the gorgeous quilted leather seats in black ran thin tartan stripes down the middle and this was subtly included as a trim highlight on the centre console. The actual design and craftsmanship of the seats was stunning and the rich smell of leather was invigorating.
Then there was the leather-wrapped carbon fibre steering wheel with a myriad of buttons and dials and the telltale lights for gearchanges - just like the racers we see driven by Messrs Vettel and Raikonen. Yep, with that $7k price tag, you bet this was the best steering wheel we’ve ever used.
In our car too the dashboard was carbon fibre. Think about that for a second and consider the time and work involved to lay-up carbon fibre for the shape and curves of a Ferrari FF dashboard…that’s worth $7,000 any day of the week.
The dashboard itself followed the traditional Ferrari layout – instruments in a largish binnacle in front of the driver and round air-vents centre. The satellite navigation screen and climate control operation was centre stack and on the centre console was drive mode selector and other ‘go-fast/go-4WD’ switches (all slanted towards the driver of course).
Time to consider the rear seats – something out of the ordinary for Ferrari of course. So we have two individual seats again gorgeously shaped, separated by a centre console and offering surprising amounts of legroom.
And here’s the other area which sets the FF apart – luggage space. Unlike any of the other current models, the FF is a Ferrari you could take to the airport with your luggage for an extended holiday, or to the snow or to golf – 450-litres of cargo space with the rear seat in-place or a massive 800-litres when folded.
Ferrari FF Exterior & Styling
Not even Ferrari could do a four-seat version of the 458 Italia or 488. So there had to be compromises.
And in that context we must say the FF is a very difficult car to photograph. In the metal this stunning Italian four-seat sports cars looks…well…stunning.
Some have said there is a hint of the 458 Italia about the front-end. Viewed from the rear, the hallmark Ferrari sportiness and two round tail-lights combine with a broad curve of the wheelarches to exude power and performance.
Ferrari FF On The Road
Suspension is relatively conventional with a double wishbone front-end and a multi-link rear. The Ferrari FF runs adaptive damper control of course.
So we have 486kW/683Nm of pure V12 muscle driving the rear wheels until the very limit (two traction control systems in play – one for the front wheels and one for the rears). That adds-up to a proper Supercar by any measure.
Hit the starter button and the V12 erupts into life like an F1 car. But that just the preamble to the audio spectacular the Ferrari FF provides.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop we just had to lower the windows to get the full treatment of this Italian masterpiece in action. The racket was astonishingly gorgeous as we hustled into a corner downchanging with F1-style lightening speed through the seven-speed sequential ‘box (with automatic throttle-blipping) – and with awesome stopping power from the carbon brakes.
Then you arrive at the corner, mash the throttle and the acceleration leaves your head spinning – no wheelspin, no sideslip, no fuss…brilliant. Of course through the corners that direct Ferrari steering and adaptive dampers deliver pin-sharp dynamics and feedback.
Pressing-on really, really hard and accelerating flat-out from first and second-gear hairpins you can feel the front wheels gripping as they ‘all-wheel-drive’ you briefly until the FF determines there is sufficient bite to return to rear-drive only.
Astonishing, brilliant gob-smacking – choose you own superlatives – the Ferrari FF is exactly as you wish a Ferrari to be.
Ferrari FF Challenges
As always with Ferrari ‘exclusive’ means ‘waiting lists’. By the same token our Ferrari friends say there is a lot of exaggeration and misconception out there – go to a dealer, pay a deposit and you might find your Ferrari arrives faster than the critics would have you believe.
Ferrari FF Verdict
Some Johnny-Come-Lately Ferrari enthusiasts aren’t in love with the FF. Their argument goes along the lines of: ‘The Prancing Horse’ shouldn’t be making a four-seat AWD coupe – Ferraris should be ‘pure’ like the 458 and 488.
But that is ignoring the history of the company. Enzo Ferrari’s vision was not limited to two-seat sports cars and we’re sure the great man would be happy with the FF (and certainly its contribution to the company’s bottom line).
And don’t lump the FF into the same file as previous four-seat Ferraris which we’ll admit weren’t terrific. The facts are: firstly the FF showcases brilliant new technology and secondly it allows buyers to use their Ferrari with family and friends.
This is as good as it gets folks and the Ferrari FF is as much an automotive masterpiece as the 488, 458, California and F12. Without doubt a proper Ferrari then…but with the FF you can even take some mates to the snow, or to golf.
Ferrari FF The Competition
Like-for-like the Ferrari FF has no exact rivals.
Maybe you’d consider the new Rolls-Royce Wraith coupe ($645,000). It has a twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 engine good for 465kW/800Nm but at 2.36-tonnes…well it’s no Ferrari is it?
Or for $498,610 the 463kW/1000Nm 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 S65 AMG Mercedes-Benz deserves consideration. But again it’s no Ferrari rival really.