And now for something completely different. The Ferrari FF is like no car the iconic Italian automaker has ever produced before. Yes, it has a V12. Yes, it's incredible to drive. And yes, it has an undeniable visual presence. But from there, it gets weird. The FF's most distinctive styling element is its hatchback roof line, which combines with its long front end to create a silhouette not seen since BMW's old M Coupe. At the same time, the hatchback creates significantly more cargo room and backseat space than any Ferrari before it.
So what's next, driving in the snow? Actually, the name "FF" means Ferrari Four, which not only equals the number of seats onboard but also how many wheels are powered by the V12 engine. Indeed, this is the first all-wheel-drive Ferrari, as it features a unique system that transparently apportions torque as needed to improve traction whether on the track or on a slippery Alpine road. Your worries about excessive weight and understeer are unfounded, for as completely different as the FF is, it remains a truly thrilling Ferrari.
Current Ferrari FF
The Ferrari FF is an all-new model for 2012. Power comes from a 6.3-liter V12 that cranks out 651 horsepower and 504 pound-feet of torque. That's all directed through a dual-clutch, seven-speed automated manual transmission and a unique all-wheel-drive system. Essentially things begin with a typical rear-drive Ferrari layout that features a rear transaxle fitted with an electronic differential that can shunt power left or right depending on which tire has more traction. But instead of adding a traditional (and heavy) transfer case to send power to the front wheels, there is a second, smaller gearbox forward of the engine. This secondary transaxle sends power to the front wheels when the main transmission is in gears 1 through 4. It's all rear-wheel drive for gears 5 through 7.
It's complicated, but the result is a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system that aids traction without killing that quintessential Ferrari fun. Ferrari claims a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds, and our initial driving experience with the FF reveals that it still delivers the expected thrilling acceleration and sharp, racecar-like handling. More surprising, our drive also revealed a comfortable ride thanks to its programmable suspension with Magna-Ride magnetorheological shock absorbers.
As for the Ferrari FF's other oddity -- the body style -- there is no denying that it creates the most practical Ferrari yet. Not only does it have the traction to get to a ski locale, you can bring an extra pair of people with you. This is also the most luxurious Ferrari yet, sporting an abundance of leather trim previously reserved for Aston Martins and Bentleys. Day-to-day usability can be frustrating, however. Beyond the antiquated touchscreen electronics interface shared with various Chryslers, the turn signal and windshield wiper control stalks have been removed in favor of buttons on the steering wheel. This was done to free up space for the large paddle shifters, but can be annoying nevertheless.
In total, the Ferrari FF is without question a unique car -- both for Ferrari and the exotic sports car class. For those seeking a GT car that can attack a winding road one weekend and go on an interstate road trip the next, there are few cars that can do it with such equal aplomb.