When the Ferrari FF first broke cover, the motoring media and fans of Maranello’s prancing horse stable were somewhat stumped by the firm’s move of offering a four-seater, four-wheel drive model.
The shooting brake design reminded me of the classic that is the BMW Z3 M coupe, which is to say it looks the part, although some may have shunned the designers for not being more flamboyant with their pen strokes. That said, there seemed to be some method to the madness as this is the company’s most practical vehicle to date. Admittedly, I never understood the gist of the vehicle until recently when we were offered the chance to spend the day at the helm of a pre-owned model.
In the metal the vehicle remains unmistakably Ferrari with the front end not too dissimilar to that of the F12 Berlinetta. That long bonnet and cab rearward design is typically GT (gran turismo) and the proportions are well judged and work far better in the metal than pictures would suggest. The boot design, circular tail lights, rear diffuser and quad tailpipes do a great job of leaving onlookers in no doubt of its Italian sportscar DNA.
The interior is a surprisingly generous affair with electrically operated front seats that are both form hugging and comfortable for those long sojourns. The two individual rear seats are equally comfortable and can easily accommodate two adults in relative comfort, while the boot is a generous 450l. You also get a 40/20/40 rear seat split configuration, so one’s golf clubs or even skiing gear can easily be accommodated. Cabin appointments are exquisitely finished and feature some of the best materials available.
Of course, this being a Ferrari one would expect it to perform in the manner we have come to appreciate from the marque and in this regard it did not disappoint. Under The bonnet lies a snarling 6.3l V12, normally aspirated engine making 486kW at 8,000r/min and 683Nm at 6,000r/min through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Turn the key and jab the engine start button on the Manettino steering wheel and the engine barks into life with such vigour you almost want to do that all day long.
There is more in store once you have appreciated the compliancy of the suspension — even on our scarred Gauteng tarmac and in spite of those massive 20-inch low profile tyres shod on our test unit. Dial the vehicle into sport mode, take command of the gear changes via those long paddles behind the steering wheel, mash the throttle to the floor boards and then revel in arguably one of the best sounding engines out there today.
In fact while it sounds great from the get-go, it is around the 5,500r/min mark where the engine’s moment of brilliance begins. The engine noise moves from a staccato similar to that of the V8 in the 458 to an intoxicating shrill of Formula One cars of yore as the revs rise to the rafters that only stop at 8,000r/min. That flat plane crank is what gives the vehicle that typical Ferrari engine note petrolheads the world over have come to love.
Handling is also superb and while it might not be as nimble as its mid-engine siblings, it can still hold its own among some sports saloons, thanks to the part-time all-wheel drive that sends 70% of power to the rear wheels and only 20% to the front, the latter called on on demand as and when the vehicle’s electronics deem it necessary. With this particular model priced at R4,200,000 and only having a scant 8,000km on its odometer, you save a whopping wad of money off a new model that would set you back a cool R5,150,000 before ticking off any extras.
Admittedly, that remains a great deal of money, but you are not just buying a vehicle here but exclusivity, too. While the Porsche Panamera remains a great vehicle in its own right, money notwithstanding I would gladly shell out my hard-earned cash for a Ferrari FF and, having sampled it, I fully get the gist of its existence and it is, simply put, brilliant.
*This article first appeared on Business Day Motor News.
Engine: 6,262cc, normally aspirated V12
Transmission: Seven – speed dual clutch automatic
Power: 486kW at 8,000rpm and 683Nm at 6,000rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 330km/h
Economy: 1 5.4 l/00km
Motor News rating: ✪✪✪✪½