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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ferrari FF

The Ferrari FF is an unusual blend of luxurious grand tourer and three-door wagon, also known as a "shooting brake." It's also an odd duck at Ferrari, being the company's first (and so far only) four-wheel drive car. Seating up to four and providing 651 horsepower from its V-12 engine, the FF has no direct competitors, though some might consider the Bentley Continental GT Speed as an alternative.

The potent 6.3-liter V-12 engine enables the FF to reach a top speed of 208 mph and accelerate to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch paddle-shift semi-automatic, and power is sent to all four wheels.

The four-wheel drive system, dubbed 4RM by Ferrari, is itself unconventional, much like the rest of the FF. Rather than using a traditional transfer case layout, the 4RM system uses a secondary gearbox at the front of the engine to drive the front wheels, supplementing the main transmission which sends power to the rear wheels. A single computer handles the distribution of power throughout the system.

The front gearbox, or Power Takeoff Unit (PTU), employs just two gears plus reverse, enabling the full four-wheel drive application of power in first through fourth gears through a system of constant-slip Haldex clutches--with no differential. As a result, a maximum of 20 percent of the engine's torque is transmitted to the front wheels. This layout allows the Ferrari FF's four-wheel drive system to tip the scales at about 50 percent lighter than the traditional solution, as well as maintain an excellent-for-dynamics 47/53-percent front/rear weight distribution.

Beyond the unique appearance and high-tech, complex drivetrain, the FF is pure Ferrari, with elegant, modern styling details inside and out, sumptuous cabin materials, and a comfortable yet sporty ride. The latter is enabled by a set of magneto-rheological dampers that adjust to suit the road surface and driving behavior.

The FF is also one of Ferrari's most useful cars, with up to 28.2 cubic feet of cargo space thanks to its shooting brake layout, and four seats. While few will be able to make the $302,000 super sports car their daily driver, it is nevertheless up to the job--that is, if you can tolerate the 11 mpg city and 17 mpg highway (for 13 mpg combined average) EPA fuel economy rating. Even the kids will love the FF, as there's an available rear-seat entertainment system that offers two screens for DVD-watching, and a 1,280-Watt, sixteen-channel, Quantumlogic Surround Sound audio system.

Should you wish to have your FF built with something more than the ordinary equipment, Ferrari has you covered with its Tailor Made program, which was launched in the U.S. in 2012 with a factory-customized FF at Pebble Beach.

Introduced at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the FF is new to the Ferrari fold, joining the 458 Italia, 458 Spider, California, and the brand-new F12 Berlinetta. If you're an F1 fan, there's even more reason to join the FF owner's club: Fernando Alonso was awarded one for winning the Malaysian Grand Prix. Even the Dubai police force is lucky enough to own an FF.

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