Ferrari has unveiled its first-ever production four-wheel-drive model, a front-engined V12 four-seater GT that not only replaces the 612 two-plus-two coupe but also aims to attract a new kind of “all-roads, all-weathers” Ferrari customer.
The new car, dubbed FF for its four seats and four-wheel drive, is designed by Pininfarina under the direction of Ferrari's own chief designer, Flavio Manzoni. The first Ferrari of modern times to accommodate four full-sized adults and their luggage, it will be unveiled at next month's Geneva auto show, and go on sale soon afterward.
Ferrari hopes it will appeal in particular to buyers who usually use all-wheel-drive sedans or SUVs for winter driving and especially ski trips at this time of the year. The revolutionary Ferrari has an all-new, longer wheelbase chassis with a new design, all-independent suspension that incorporates the latest-generation magnetically adjustable dampers and standard Brembo carbon ceramic disc brakes.
The four-wheel-drive system, claimed to be around 50 percent lighter than comparable applications, preserves the desirable rear weight bias of recent V12 Ferraris. Called 4RM (for "Ruote Motrici") the system is unique to Ferrari, using the car's electronic systems seamlessly to direct torque to the front wheels when slippery conditions demand it, but mostly leaving the car in its desirable (and understeer-free) rear-wheel-drive state.
Though the FF is more versatile than traditional Ferraris, Maranello counters any suggestions that it is “soft” by giving it a newly developed 6.25-liter V12 with just under 10 percent more swept volume and 22 percent more power than the 612, and a 7-speed double-clutch gearbox to replace the previous 6-speed manual.
The FF also gets the package of efficiency-building measures introduced in the California, including stop-start and smart charging to improve economy by about 10 percent. The FF engine produces 650hp at 8000rpm and 504lb-ft of torque (up 16 percent) at 5000rpm. Despite these higher outputs, combined fuel consumption improves from a mediocre 13.8mpg to 18.3mpg. The FF's 0-62mph acceleration time of 3.7sec also undercuts the 612's by 0.4 sec, while its 208mph top speed beats the 612 by about 10mph.
Ferrari claims an impressive curb weight of 3957lbs for the FF, undercutting the 612 by 110lbs despite the presence of the new on-demand 4x4 system.
This and the fact that the FF is almost identical in length and width to the outgoing 612 (and only 1.2in. taller) suggests Ferrari has scored a considerable packaging coup, since the graceful lines allow full adult headroom in the rear, and the trunk provides 16 cubic feet of space with all passengers aboard, or 28 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, figures which match many four-door models.