Why The Ferrari FF Is A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

     When you think of Ferrari, you probably imagine a low-slung, two-seated red sports car that’s as attention grabbing as Donald Trump. Or maybe you picture a much younger Tom Selleck in a floral button-up shirt investigating crime in Hawaii. Regardless of what you fantasize about the Italian supercar marquee, you probably don’t think of something very practical or subtle. In 2011, Ferrari introduced a car that allowed the company to branch off into a whole new market for those who wanted every day usability coupled with racing heritage and extreme performance. It’s called the Ferrari FF and it’s the coolest party trick of the automotive industry.

     I’ve been very partial to Ferrari’s cars ever since I was a child. When Ferrari released the FF, I thought they had lost their mind; seeing as that the FF was going against everything I knew and loved about their cars prior. “Il Commendatore must be rolling in his grave right now,” I thought to myself. Finally, five years after it’s official unveiling, I had the chance to drive the FF and I found myself on the polar opposite end of being disappointed.

     The Ferrari FF is a 2+2 grand tourer with a naturally aspirated, 6.3 liter V12 engine…and a hatchback. It features a 7-speed, dual-clutch F1 gearbox coupled to a four-wheel drive system. Yes, you can now have a Ferrari with four-wheel drive. But before all of the purists get their panties in a bunch and sell their red leather driving shoes, rest assured that the FF has managed to keep every bit of Ferrari’s soul and sense of occasion for all four lucky occupants to enjoy. Another sigh of relief can be had at the fact that Ferrari didn’t compromise in the styling department either. Although it does not have the striking and aggressive look normally associated with Ferrari’s cars, the body is beautifully sculpted and the lines flow organically. I challenge anyone to name a truly useable 2+2 GT as pretty as the FF. The interior of the FF is very posh and oozing with Italian class, yet the driver’s area hasn’t given up any sense of driver involvement and purpose.

     Upon getting behind the wheel of the FF, you’re immediately reminded that this is a Ferrari through and through. A large tachometer is front and center on the dash and the yellow circle with the black cavallino on the steering wheel is sure to make any initial negative thoughts quickly vanish. Turn the key and press the bright red start button on the steering wheel and the FF wakes up with a very throaty bark that causes every nerve ending in your body to tingle with ecstasy. Despite being a rather large car, visibility in the FF is wonderful. While driving the FF, I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that the front didn’t feel as long as I had anticipated. Visibility was not at all compromised by the hood and I didn’t feel that I had to look over the hood to see the road ahead. Also surprising was the weight of the steering. It was very light, but not too much so. Having driven a Ferrari California, in which I thought the steering weight was appallingly light, the weight of the FF’s steering was very good. It did lack feedback, especially in the “normal” manettino setting, but I still felt connected and in control. The rack was very quick, but the input was very direct and precise. Going into the “sport” manettino setting added just a touch of weight to the steering and allowed a bit more feedback through the wheel. For being such a long car overall, it had a very small turning radius and was very nimble and agile. Throttle response of the FF was immediate, but not hyper-reactive, and the brake feel was very solid and linear. At low speeds, the FF is as docile as an economy car, but it still remains involving and rewarding. Below 4,000 RPMs, the engine has a very musical tone that is just audible enough to enjoy without being overbearing on longer excursions. Once the exhaust valves open, the exhaust note goes from a string quartet to a full-fledged concerto as the Enzo-derived V12 screams to it’s 8,000 RPM redline. It is a heavy car, weighing in at just over 4,000 pounds, but it feels very light on it’s feet and will be as playful or as calm as you want it to; that’s the beauty of this thing. The four-wheel drive system gives the car loads of grip, but doesn’t seem to interfere with the car’s handling or stability. The ride quality of the FF is phenomenal. The car is supple, but not soft and boaty; it hides its weight and size very well. All of the controls are within perfect reach of the driver and the seats are snug, but not gripping. Two full-grown adults can sit in the back seats comfortably with plenty of legroom and ample headroom.

     This is a Ferrari that can be driven in any manner, in any condition, and still feel completely at home, all while making the driver feel like a million bucks while grinning from ear-to-ear. It’s truly an incredible engineering feat by Ferrari to make a car that is literally the jack of all trades. It’s subtle enough for those that don’t always want to be in the spotlight, but exciting enough to make even the most stubborn Ferrari tifosi feel like they are the star of Scuderia Ferrari. With the release of the FF’s successor, the GTC-4 Lusso, it’s unfathomable to imagine how Ferrari can improve on how well this car lives up to its purpose. Hopefully I will be able to write a review on Ferrari’s newest family member in the not-so-distant future. Until then, I’m going to go cash in my life’s savings, collect the pennies under my couch cushion and sell one of my organs to go buy a gently used FF.

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