|High on the highway: The Ferrari FF comes with plush, spacious interiors along
with two back seats
Pix courtesy: Ferrari
Within the first kilometre of driving the FF, all preconceived notions are erased from my brain. And like most Ferraris, the FF simply steals your mind, heart and soul.
Similar to the 458 Italia (which gets my vote for the best sports car in the world), the FF makes you feel like a hero and doesnt scare the hell out of you. This feeling of confidence, the thrill of pushing beyond what you thought you were capable of, is taken to a new level in the Ferrari Four. This is the first street-legal Ferrari to channel its horses (651 to be exact) to all four wheels. Four-wheel-drive is one thing that the Four stands for, the other things are the four seats. Ill come to that in a bit.
The FF may be a FWD super car, but it just doesnt feel like one and that makes it truly special. The seduction starts with the steering feel, which isnt corrupted by the driven front wheels. Theres no tug at the carbon-fibre wheel when you accelerate hard, no drive-line wind up and theres a delicacy in the steering (once you get used to the quick 2.3 turns lock-to-lock) that makes you enjoy every bend, kink and corner.
With so much power you would expect the FF, like most four-wheel-drive sports cars, to plough straight on, but it doesnt and thats another one of its brilliant aspects. Theres no kill-joy understeer even in tight corners and the tail twitches just a bit powering out of them. The FF is incredibly neutral in its handling, flattering the driver like no other super car. I have to admit that I didnt try any tail-out antics with the stability and traction control switched completely off. The most adventurous I got was switching the steering-wheel-mounted Manettino to sport mode — the most extreme of its five settings. This made full use of all the V12s power via the seven-speed, twin-clutch gearbox but under the strict supervision of the electronic police.
The 6.3-litre V12, which pumps out more power than the legendary Enzo, is a masterpiece. But its the 69kgm of torque, of which 80 per cent is produced at 1750rpm, that makes the FF not only blindingly quick but also effortless to drive. The engine doesnt feel peaky and the FF catapults forward in an unrelenting, linear way to speeds you couldnt imagine possible. Its a good thing that the speedo is tucked away into the bottom right-hand corner of the instrument cluster and not in-your-face like the massive rev counter, because glancing at the speedo needle can scare you. And then theres the sound — a symphony of mechanical and exhaust noise thats perfectly orchestrated.
The shriek of the V12 (best enjoyed with the windows down), blistering performance, and the agility and poise of this car on deserted Italian roads wove together a magical driving experience. The FF allows you to get familiar with it pretty quickly and a few clicks later youre on the pace. You tend to hit the amazing brakes much later, using the incredible grip and traction to dive deeper into corners and floor the throttle pedal rather than feather it when the road straightens out. This is not a car you have to drive gingerly or worry about it suddenly breaking loose and chucking you off a cliff.
The surprises dont stop. The biggest one is the amazing ride comfort that you dont expect in a car designed to go around corners than over bumps. Italian roads can be patchy and the bits of broken tarmac I encountered didnt faze the FF, which soaked it all up. This bodes well for Indian conditions where, in the next two years, a handful of FFs will find owners willing to spend Rs 3.41 crore a pop. My bigger concern is the long nose with its big overhang that makes it extremely vulnerable to speedbreakers.
The interior is dominated by a large steering wheel and all its controls, including the turning indicator switches. The fit and finish of the cabin is pretty impressive and its not that far back when exposed screwheads and plastics, which felt like cardboard, were common in Ferraris.
Those days are now gone. The FF feels plush, superbly finished and well-equipped. But the touchscreen navigation system isnt intuitive to operate, which is annoying.
And before I forget, this Ferrari has two back seats! In fact, thats one of the reasons for buying this car, says Ferrari (but not me). I jumped at the back to check out the seats and was astonished by the amount of space on offer. The FF lives up to its name and can accommodate four large adults, and access to the rear is easy too. But though its good to have the flexibility of two extra seats, they are best left unused. You dont want the burden of extra passengers or luggage to compromise your driving experience.
Back in the parking lot at the Ferrari factory in Maranello, I took a long, hard look at the unconventional styling. The FFs shooting-brake body style has some nice details like the 458-inspired headlights and the shapely rear haunches but the long nose and rear hatch knock the proportions out of kilter. I dont really care much about the looks though. Because when youre behind the wheel of the FF, little else matters.
Price: Rs 3.41 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Top speed: 335kph
n 0-100kph: 3.7 seconds
n Kerb weight: 1880kg
Engine: V12, 6262cc, petrol/ front, longitudinal, FWD
Power: 651bhp at 8000rpm
Torque: 69kgm at 6000rpm
Gearbox: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
My dream car
I'm not into serious revving and racing but my dream car would be a Mercedes sports convertible in a sporty red. I saw one in London when this beauty of a car stopped in front of me and two gorgeous blondes stepped out of it! I told myself that I have to get this car!
– Raj Mahtani, designer