Car reviews - Ferrari - FF - 2+2 Coupe
Extraordinary V12 engine and soundtrack, divine interior appointment, on-road exclusivity, uncharacteristic practicality, savage B-road pace, wise investment
Room for improvement
High fuel consumption limits range, had to give it back
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12 Nov 2014
Price and equipment
LET'S cut to the chase and the sticking point for some when it comes to the Ferrari FF – it costs $624,646 before on-road costs.
But before you run around obsessing about how you could buy three Porsche 911s for the same cash, let us first consider the intangible and undeniable value of exclusivity.
Ask yourself when it was that you last saw a Ferrari FF on the road. If the answer is mid-October and the car was in Abu Dhabi blue, then that one doesn't count because it was our Ferrari-owned test car.
The FF is an extraordinarily rare car guaranteed to turn heads and wag chins wherever it goes, and for ultra-prestige car owners, that in itself is worth a mighty premium – exactly the reason Ferrari deliberately caps global production each year.
Add to that an extensive list of opulent features focused on making occupants feel very, very special, performance that we will come to later and entry into one of the most exclusive motoring institutions of them all, and suddenly the FF's price-tag doesn't seem that steep.
For the money (and the record), the FF has touchscreen navigation, cruise control, reversing camera with parking radar, electrically adjustable heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, automatic Xenon headlights, electric tailgate and 20-litres of cabin storage cubbies.
And what other manufacturer do you know that includes seven years scheduled servicing in the price?You may be surprised to read it, but we think the FF is good value – and that is before you consider what it can do.
The first thing to hit you when hopping aboard the FF is the heady aroma of top-quality leather and our test car was draped from door to door.
High-quality craftsmanship is abundant in the FF interior with a simple but beautifully executed cabin with everything in the right place and no excess equipment or garish decoration.
We particularly liked the spartan centre console and transmission tunnel which has done away with a conventional gear selector in favour of three simple push-buttons and a brace of panic handles.
Fiat Chrysler's Ferrari ownership is to blame for the one small disappointment in the FF interior, and the albeit functional dash touchscreen and switchgear is exactly the same unit as found in Jeep's 2014 Cherokee.
It was the only blip in the FF's otherwise decadent interior though, and top-quality Crema diamond-stitched leather covered everything from the supportive and comfortable seats, door-trims, transmission tunnel, to the dashboard.
The two rear seats appear to have been formed from a single piece of hide, offering comfort and support every bit as good as the front spots with enough head and legroom for two full-grown adults – or Ferrari's custom-fitted baby-seat.
And it is from the second row that the most striking element of the FF interior can be appreciated.
The absolute icing on the very well-made cake is the FF's vast panoramic glass roof which extends from the very edge of the windscreen to the tailgate hinge, and with only the skinniest boarder of metal at either side.
With a dark, glare-resistant tint, the huge transparent panel gives a roofless sensation without blinding occupants or heating the interior on sunny days.
At the very back of the four-seater is a decent boot with a respectable 450 litres of space but if that isn't enough the rear seats fold in an interesting half fashion boosting space to an impressive 800-litres – practical.
Engine and transmission
The Ferrari FF is a car built on superlatives and none more so than when its bonnet is lifted.
Most manufacturers develop an engine that performs well and then hide it under a variety of plastic covers. Not Ferrari though.
The theatre and style of the FF's gorgeous exterior and opulent interior continues under its bonnet with a pair of inlet tracts that can only be described as art.
Its twin red wrinkle-coated plenum chambers and silver six-tract inlet manifolds form the Ferrari's mechanical centerpiece, with the heart of the award-winning 6.3-litre V12 lying below.
True to traditions, the FF requires an ignition key to be turned followed by a press of the steering-wheel mounted start-button. The small ceremony kicks the V12 into life with a cranking whirr and bark from its four tailpipes, before settling down to a sedate idle.
A pull on the right up-shift paddle and the FF is primed to take-off, and with 486kW under your toe, acceleration is stratospheric.
Despite its large displacement, with your right foot buried in the firewall, the normally aspirated V12 will rev to a wild 8000 rpm creating one of the most spine-tingling soundtracks available from a road-legal car.
Snatching at the right-hand paddle again lines up another cog in the seven-speed transmission and the physics-defying acceleration continues.
Unlike high-boost turbocharged engines that dump peak output in your lap from low rpm, Ferrari's epic 12-cylinder delivers relentless power with unfaltering linearity no matter what the gear or road-speed.
Progress as a result is nothing short of electrifying, but what is even more commendable is that the front-mid mounted engine of the FF is actually in a mild state of tune.
When slotted in to the hyperbolic F12 Berlinetta, the same V12 pumps out 544kW.
What other manufacturer can say that its 486kW engine is the sensible version?With planetary performance, a wildlife-scaring soundtrack and even good looks, Ferrari's V12 is an unbelievably good package.
While the FF's engine borrows the tried and tested recipe of revving hard to produce startling figures, the transmission bolted to it is revolutionary, with two separate gearboxes driving from each end of the crankshaft.
A relatively conventional arrangement sends power from the back of the engine to the rear wheels via a transaxle, but the front wheels are driven by a standalone multi-clutch automatic transmission driven from the front end of the crank.
In gears one to five the FF's stability management system distributes torque between two axles depending on the friction of the road allowing progress in conditions as treacherous as snow, but above fifth gear the FF is all rear-wheel drive.
We didn't dare test the ragged fringes of the FF's adhesion but on dry roads, traction was bountiful and confidence inspiring.
The tractive layout also maximises acceleration off the mark with a neck-snapping 'launch' function, which will get the FF to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds if you feel the need.
Ride and handling
As a true GT, the Ferrari FF is built to devour kilometers with ease and Ferrari says the versatility of the voluminous cabin, decent boot and four-wheel drive make a trip to the snow a viable proposition.
But in Australia this theory comes a little unstuck. With our snowfields up to six-hours from the main metropolitan centres of Sydney and Melbourne the only downside to the FF's monstrous engine becomes apparent – range.
Ferrari says the V12 sucks 15.4 litres every 100km which at best limits its 91-litre tank of fuel to a range of 590km and at least one fill up in a round-trip to the snow, but in rural areas finding the 98-octane fuel that the highly-strung V12 demands might be a challenge.
But on shorter excursions, with the angelic engine singing away and the Victorian countryside washing over the glass roof, fuel consumption couldn't be farther from our thoughts.
The FF gobbles miles with savage efficiency and a silky ride, but when faced with a corner, the four-seat Fez continues with the same purposeful pace.
Flicking the steering wheel-mounted drive-mode switch from Comfort to Sport weighted up the steering, stiffened the suspension, dropped a gear and dug a spur in to the Ferrari's flank.
Despite the FF's size, carving up fast corners couldn't provoke the pretty body into rolling a perceptible degree, with astoundingly sharp steering response and lightening turn-in.
We loved the flat-plane steering wheel that isn't too fat and sat perfectly in the palm housing the most important switches – including the indicators.
Situating the turn-signals, wiper and headlight dip switch on the wheel has removed the need for awkward stalks which looks great, but selecting an indicator when leaving a roundabout was tricky.
But focusing on minor functional operations is to miss the point. The Ferrari FF does exactly what its maker says it will do, whisking four occupants and luggage to the top of a mountain with almost infallible ease – and extraordinary style.
Maintenance costs are one element that steer many away form the prospect of Ferrari ownership, but the cost of any new 458, FF or F12 includes seven years of general maintenance.
Its Genuine Maintenance program is complimentary and covers all scheduled services including parts, oils and labour.
As a criticism, cynics and amateurs say that when you sign on the line for an FF you are simply paying for the badge, and to an extent we would agree. Except we believe that is the highest possible compliment.
By handing over a cheque for the FF you are signing up to an unparalleled combination of supercar performance, surprising practicality, engineering that verges on art, and all represented by one unmistakable image – the Prancing Horse.
If that constitutes paying for a badge then so be it.
If you want four adult-sized seats, 300km/h+ performance and a good boot wrapped up in a three-door coupe, then you have just one choice. The Ferrari FF is without comparison.
Rolls Royce Wraith ($645,000 driveaway)
With two doors and four seats, the elegant Wraith is the most similar in layout to the Ferrari, but its size prevents it being a mountain road munching playboy, feeling more at home wafting along in a straight line, but does have a comparable price tag and oozes style.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S ($444,600 before on-road costs)
While the performance of the Porsche is comparable to the Ferrari and it does have four-wheel drive grip, the big German has four doors and with frequently contested aesthetics can't compete with the FF's coupe looks.
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