2012 FERRARI FF REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Two-door shooting-brake premium sports.
Price: $625,000 (plus on-roads)
Fuel economy claimed: 15.4 l/100km | tested: 21.8 l/100km
Slightly strange, but massively appealing – that’s the Ferrari FF. So let’s get this out there: the FF isn’t the prettiest Ferrari ever made.
But it’s still a Ferrari.
And, of course, give it some time on road, and its reason for being overcomes any reservations about its styling.
It exists because Ferrari took the time to listen to its customers. Seems the Fezza faithful wanted a car to get to the ski resort in winter, and a winery at the end of a dirt road in summer (or something like that).
A big boot then, four seats and all-wheel-drive is the perfect formula.
Ferrari doesn’t (and won’t) make an SUV. But it has created a car that ticks all those boxes. But can such a Ferrari - the FF - stay true to its Maranello heritage? After all, the black and yellow shield isn’t bestowed upon just any car.
Quality: When you’re spending near-on two-thirds of a million on a motor car, you want it to reflect that. Well, you won’t be let down by the FF.
The interior smells like a Louis Vuitton handbag, with soft hide enveloping most of the cabin, and textured aluminium and carbon-fibre making up the rest.
Some may find it a bit busy, but it manages to blend a nod to its F1-heritage with classic Italian flair.
The feel of all surfaces is excellent; although not so good is the flimsy feel to the wiper switches on the wheel.
Externally, the paintwork and panel finish is absolutely top-notch (of course, what else did you expect?).
Comfort: Two doors. Four seats. That can be tricky. In reality however, the FF is a lot easier to hop into than most coupes because the roofline is high, thanks to the shooting-brake-styling.
Once seated in the rear sculpted buckets, it kills the Aston Martin Rapide for room, and unless you’re Andrew Gaze, you could spend hours there without feeling claustrophobic.
Up front, it’s even better, with miles of legroom, extremely comfortable seats and a spot-on driving position.
Equipment: The emphasis is on ‘grand touring’, so the FF is plush. Front and centre is a sat-nav screen (though its operation is a little counter-intuitive), and of course there’s climate control, USB, Bluetooth, DVD, and, as an option, you can have TV screens for the back-seat passengers.
Storage: That the FF has been designed for long-distance travel is evident in how useable its interior is. There are spaces for wallets or phones for rear passengers and a small glovebox and centre-console storage for those up front.
The large rump means a generous boot area; 450 litres, in fact. And if you want to carry something long, there’s a ski-port between the rear seats.
You can also fold down the back seat liberating 800 litres of storage space. While it’s no SUV, it’s certainly better than some GTs out there.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Because Ferrari wants its customers to keep their eyes on the road, all the car’s driving controls are found on the steering wheel.
Lights, indicators, wipers, traction control – the whole lot. It takes a little time to get used to the indicators though, especially when negotiating a roundabout.
Thankfully, the FF’s super quick steering-rack means you won’t spend too much time with your arms crossed over.
And that steering comes into its own when carving up a curvy road. It’s light, but full of feel and sharp as a pin.
It also telegraphs when the front wheels start to supply grip, with a gentle tug at the wheel and tucking in of the nose. It’s never intrusive, but alerts you to when the all-wheel-drive system is doing its thing.
How it works is rather interesting. Instead of having a centre differential to divide torque between front and back wheels, the 4RM AWD setup uses a driveshaft straight from the engine to supply two constantly slipping clutches in a small gearbox.
When the front tyres need more grip, the clutches lock up supplying torque to either wheel dependent on how sensors determine the need.
One thing’s for sure – the FF drives like a true Ferrari.
The FF is, for the most part, a rear-wheel-drive car with occasional assistance from the front wheels, giving it typical sports car balance.
On any road, anywhere, it’s thunderously quick, but equally, astonishingly stable - even with the white lines just a blurr.
Powering from an intersection turning right under full throttle, with traction and stability control turned off, you’d expect some scrabble, a billow of blue, or even slide. But nope, in the FF, nothing.
Just masses and masses of grip and not even a chirp from the wheels (drifting, then, friends, is out of the question). If there’s one thing that Ferrari does well, it’s grip, and the FF is among its grippiest.
Ferrari ran two of these down a ski-slope to demonstrate the AWD prowess.
The huge V12 is set low and back into the chassis, meaning it gets near-perfect 47/53 weight distribution.
And at low or high speeds, the Fezza’s focus on driveability is always evident.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission can be driven as easily as a regular automatic with soft shifts which are barely perceptible. Conversely, press the “Auto” button and it reverts back to manual changes using the paddles.
And upshifts, and downshifts, are instantaneous. Pull the left paddle, it shifts down. No pause, no slurring, just lightning quick changes. Brilliant.
Refinement: Because the gearbox is so good, it allows the V12 to be driven as docile or as manic as you like. While the FF starts with a typical Ferrari metallic bark, it hushes at idle, and doesn’t lurch or struggle at low speed.
When you choose ‘Race’ on the Manettino (Ferrari’s rotary dial), you get a different animal; it opens up exhaust valves, sharpens throttle response, and allows the V12 to sing its glorious howl.
Certainly it’s more tuneful than the Ferrari V8s and never grating or wearing.
Suspension: The FF’s suspension can react to road surface changes in milliseconds thanks to adaptive metal particle-filled dampers. The viscosity can go from the consistency of sewing-machine oil to peanut butter and back again in 1/100th of a second.
This gives a ride which has a good compromise between comfort and handling, though this is a Ferrari, so it errs on the side of firmness.
If you’re worried about extremely bumpy roads, don’t. A button on the steering wheel adjusts the suspension for just such an event, making the ride bearable and ensuring the nose doesn’t scrape.
Braking: Carbon-ceramic discs all round are included as standard, and they need to be – the FF weighs 1880kg.
That said, they haul up time and again with no fade, however the lower the speed, the more wooden the pedal feel; typical of this type of braking system.
ANCAP rating: Not tested
Safety features: The FF’s speed potential means it needs to be safe. In addition to the ubiquitous ESC, traction control and ABS/EBD, there’s also the 4RM AWD system to keep you on the road, as well as six airbags.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres
Service costs: Servicing is included for the first seven years of ownership (Yes, seven years.)
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Aston Martin Rapide ($404,442) - White it has the FF licked on styling, its back seats are squeezy, it’s slow (comparatively) and doesn’t drive quite as well. It also doesn’t feature all-wheel-drive however is a fair whack cheaper. (see Aston Martin reviews)
Porsche Panamera Turbo S ($440,200) - If the FF’s styling is polarising, the Panamera’s is diabolical. But it drives brilliantly, is a lot cheaper and with a superior quality feel. The FF does have more pedigree. Perhaps cross-shop them then? (see Porsche reviews)
Note: All prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Not many family cars can go from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds and top out at 335km/h, yet here we have an entirely usable Ferrari that does just that.
Sure, it’s a niche vehicle, and how many of us will be willing to fork over a pallet-load of cash for a Ferrari which isn’t a sports coupe or convertible?
But the FF is a pleasure to drive, thunderously quick, and, with that ‘wagon’ back, you’ll never blend into the crowd. Plus the included servicing for seven years is a real bonus.
And, with the Ferrari FF, the family doesn’t have to stay behind and miss out on all the fun.
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