Rainy weather provided ideal conditions for testing the Ferrari FF, billed as a supercar for all seasons. The people at Ferrari might insist that FF means seating for four as well as four-wheel drive, but I suspect something different. I’m sure one of those letters stands for something profane. For such a hefty beast the FF is flippin’ fast. The model will be succeeded by the GT4C Lusso, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. But until it arrives on local shores, the FF is still your first port of call if you are desperately seeking Ferrari ownership, but require a degree of practicality as well.
We were keen to spend time with the FF, which usually appears to be overshadowed by the more traditional offerings from the stable. Indeed, it seems that large, four-seater Ferrari products do not get the same adoration as the others. You will never see a 456 GT or a 612 Scaglietti on a bedroom wall poster. The genre could very well be one of the manufacturer’s best-kept secrets in my humble opinion. First of all, it boasts ample space. Even colleague Bruce Fraser — blessed abundantly with the gift of height — managed to find a comfortable spot in the FF. Limited visibility is one of the big drawbacks with any super- car, but that is not the case here, given the shooting-brake design of the model.
There are no unnerving blind spots and parking is a doddle because you can see all four corners of it. Those rear seats might be on the compact side and are probably best suited for children. But the rear quarters can still be used for other stuff, in addition to the boot, which is relatively commodious. If you are trying to justify it as a Ferrari for a small family, you could (almost) get away with it. But as with all the products hailing from the Maranello marvel, the emotional response will have you sold. Seeing the rearing stallion on the famed emblem stirs excitement. Driving a Ferrari — any Ferrari — is the stuff of childhood dreams for many. When the FF was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show it was touted as the most powerful and versatile product the car maker had ever built. And while times have moved on, the FF is still a true brute.
The 6 262cc V12 engine makes an incredible noise. It is a tune you want to hear on repeat, in the sad knowledge that such normally aspirated, large-capacity engines are a dying breed. This one-dozen wonder has an output of 485kW and 683Nm. And with a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.7 seconds, it is still one of the quickest production cars out there. Top speed is rated at 335km/h and the mill delivers as much as 500Nm from 1 000rpm. With this in mind one is grateful for the benefit of all-wheel traction, especially when the heavens decide to open up. Setting off, I had the drive-selector dial on the steering wheel locked onto the wet setting. That lasted for a full five minutes before my inner delinquent engaged race mode. Once again four-wheel drive stickiness allows one to take serious liberties. Waterlogged tar does not faze the FF — it still puts the power down in an assuring and confident manner. Before you know it, the speedometer is sitting on the national limit. And it takes little effort to get way beyond that.
What is also impressive is how nimble the FF feels despite its length and width. Extensive use of lightweight materials (even the seats are made from magnesium) culminate in a persona that is agile. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission still manages to shift all that grunt with immediacy and big Brembo anchors offer ample stopping power. Economy might be a moot point when it comes to cars of this nature, but you could even say the FF is fairly efficient for what it is. The model even boasts a start-stop function. It’s part of what Ferrari calls its HELE philosophy: high emotions, low emissions. In 2011 it claimed that the FF was 25% “greener” than previous V12 models. Fair enough, it still has a CO2 output of 360g/km and a claimed consumption figure of 15.4l/100km.
I suppose my only gripe with the FF was the digital infotainment system. It is much too similar to the UConnect interface Chrysler employs — and just as unresponsive. But any car from the prancing horse has enough charisma to outweigh the niggles. And this large, left-field Ferrari is certainly an endearing piece of machinery.