Ferrari FF


Debut: 2011
Maker: Ferrari
Predecessor: 612 Scaglietti



 Published on 17 Jun 2011
All rights reserved. 


One strange thing I observed in the past 25 years is: the largest and most luxurious Ferraris are also the least commercially successful. Take the 456GT for example, despite of its beauty, it sold only 3,200 copies in 11 years, which is half the number 550/575 Maranello managed. We don't have the final production figure of 612 Scaglietti yet, but judging from its rarity on streets, I bet its sales could be even slower. That is sad for a car so good to drive. The 612 had few flaws – although some disliked its looks and some said it was no faster than AMG CL65 – it was a truly amazing combination of GT comfort and sportscar dynamics, feel and inspiration. Unfortunately, it was a Ferrari. When it sits on the same showroom floor as 599GTB, its excitement turns pale. People who enter Ferrari showrooms expect to find the highest performance / excitement regardless of price. If they look for ultimate comfort and luxury, they would turn to Mercedes or Bentley. After all, those can afford a top-of-the-line Ferrari should have plenty of wealth and garage space to swallow another Mercedes / Bentley / Range Rover / Rolls-Royce. Few find the need to compromise between a supercar and a luxury car.

Having said that, Ferrari just won't let its luxury GT line die. If it can raise comfort level significantly, no matter passenger space, luggage capacity or ease of control, it might have a good chance to lure customers from the luxury brands camp. The success of Porsche Panamera tells us that is possible.

Consequently, we see the first ever "shooting brake" body wearing the prancing horse badge. This is Ferrari FF. Its shape is clearly designed to optimize luggage space and rear seat headroom. It also helps hiding the fact that the roof line is 35 mm taller than that on 612 Scaglietti, so the shooting brake shape actually looks less compromised than it would have been in a tall coupe form. Give it some curvy fenders, 20-inch wheels, aggressive air scoops, large diffusers and 458-style LED headlamps, the overall visual effect can be even head-turning ! Well, it's not 456-beauty, but it is definitely more striking than Panamera.



Shooting brake, 4-wheel-drive and the FF name: a tribute to Jensen ?

Apart from the shooting brake body, another thing distinguishes the FF from any other Ferraris until to date is a technology Maranello called 4RM, which stands for 4-Ruote Motrici in Italian or simply 4-wheel-drive in our language. This is Ferrari's first 4-wheel drive system. It explains why the car is called FF, an acronym for "Ferrari Four", and why coincidentally it has the same name as a famous 4WD classic, Jensen FF, although in the latter case it means Ferguson Formula. By the way, Jensen FF was also a shooting brake design. Is Ferrari paying tribute to it ?

When Ferrari develops a 4WD system, it would be different to others. To Ferrari, rear-wheel drive is always the most desired configuration except in extreme cases where the car is struggling for traction. Conventional permanent 4-wheel-drive systems are just a waste of mass and energy for most of the time. Ferrari designed its 4RM to be a part-time 4WD system. In other words, in normal running conditions the FF is purely rear-wheel drive. Only when it struggles for traction the front wheels will be engaged quickly for very short moments to sort things out. Even then no more than 20 percent of power will be assigned to the front wheels, so the rear-drive characteristic is largely maintained. Because of the light requirement for front-wheel drive, Ferrari can adopt a very simple design that does away center differential, front differential and complicated drive shafts altogether. Instead of them is a Power Transfer Unit (PTU) which contains a gear set and a pair of multi-plate clutches. The compact PTU is installed just in front of the engine, taking power directly from the crankshaft and transferring to the front wheels through its two clutches. It also doubles as a torque vectoring device. (More details of its construction and theory can be found in Technical School.) Compare with conventional 4WD systems working with front engine and transaxle gearbox, such as the one serving Nissan GT-R, 4RM cuts 50 percent weight and saves the need for a bulky transmission tunnel.

The 4RM and Ferrari's FR drivetrain is a match made in heaven. The PTU can only be fitted to a car whose engine is mounted completely behind the front axle line. No problem to Ferrari, as the existing 612 and 599 are already so engineered. On the FF, the front-mid-mounted engine and rear-mounted gearbox results in a perfect weight distribution of 47:53 front to rear.



4RM and Ferrari's FR drivetrain is a match made in heaven

Compare with the 612, FF has about the same length and width, whereas wheelbase is stretched by 40 mm to just under 3 meters. This a large car indeed – nearly as large as Porsche Panamera – but Ferrari's aluminum spaceframe chassis and 4RM system help it to undercut a Panamera Turbo by 100 kilograms, let alone Mercedes CL65 AMG (+290 kg) and Bentley Continental GT (+440 kg). The large body packs not only four adult seats and 450 liters of luggage space but also a lot of technologies we have expected, such as new 5-link rear suspensions, magnetorheological adaptive dampers, Brembo ceramic disc brakes and 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle. They have all made appearance on the smaller California, but they are not exactly the same on FF. For example, the magnetorheological damping is now the third generation (versus first gen on California and second gen on 458), and the Getrag 7DCL750 gearbox is a high-torque (max 553 lbft) version to take on the V12 engine.

The 6262 cc 65-degree V12 is derived from the Tipo 140 unit of Enzo and 599, but enhanced with direct fuel injection, 12.3:1 compression and automatic stop-start, not to mention the additional 300 cc of displacement. Ferrari is not going to give its luxury GT engine the highest possible tuning. Even so, this one is still capable to produce an Enzo-matching 660 horsepower at 8000 rpm, or 120 horses up from the 5.75-liter engine on 612 Scaglietti. Furthermore, its maximum torque breaks Maranello's own record, with 504 pound-foot reached at 6000 rpm. As a GT engine, its torque curve is tuned to be flatter than those on Ferrari's sports cars. From as low as 1750 rpm there is at least 80 percent of peak torque, or 403 lbft, available for disposal. If you don't understand what it means, think about a Lamborghini V10 has its peak torque brought forward from 6500 rpm to 1750 rpm !

As a result, the FF is capable of 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, half a second quicker than its predecessor, and its top speed is lifted by 12 mph to an astonishing 208 mph. Yes, it is once again the fastest 4-seater in the world !



208 mph guarantees the highest place in the 4-seater world

Meanwhile, fuel consumption and emission have been cut by 25 percent, thanks to the direct injection, automatic engine stop-start as well as the new 7-speed gearbox whose top gear is an overdrive.

On the Road

Once you settled in the front seat, you will be amazed for its spaciousness. Up front, there is abundance of room in all dimensions. Headroom is surprisingly generous for a Ferrari. Facing you is an environment familiar to modern Ferraris – lots of leather and alloy, multiple round air vents, a cheap sat-nav on the center console, an instrument pinnacle consisting of two analogue dials and a TFT screen, and a video-game-style steering wheel with an awful lot of functions to control. It's neither the most tasteful nor the highest quality cabin, but since it is a Ferrari, you can forgive it.

The rear seats might look snug and are more difficult to access, but they are truly adult seats, unlike the case in Bentley Continental GT or even Aston Martin Rapide (and that's a four-door !). Six-footers will have no problem to spend hours at the back of FF. Luggage space is equally impressive. With rear seats in place it measures 450 liters, more than that on Porsche Panamera. Fold the rear seats and it will be expanded to 800 liters. You will hardly need more.



Six-footers will have no problem to spend hours at the back

Fire the V12 and you won't be disappointed. Just like any Ferrari V12s, it has a very wide spectrum (8200 rpm) for you to access, and the power delivery is creamy smooth. Its low inertia is evident from the sharp response to throttle. Its linearity is the greatest companion to keen drivers. Moreover, the engine makes beautiful sound. It could stay behind the background when unstressed, or turns insane when it screams to redline – that thundering howl is more 599 GTO than GTB. In other words, a huge improvement from the civilized 612.

The FF is fast, unquestionably. It might not topple a Panamera Turbo S from rest to 60 mph (due to the limited front-end traction as well as the lack of turbocharged torque), but once it is up to speed it keeps rocketing to the horizon with its endless power. It arrives 124 mph (200km/h) in 11 seconds flat, almost 2 seconds ahead of the Porsche. The higher the speed, the more advantage its unrivalled top end power shows. However, if you expect the same sense of speed as 458 Italia or 599GTB, you might be a little disappointed. The extra weight here dampens its low-gear explosiveness to a certain extent. This mean while the FF is comfortably the fastest 4-seat GT in the world, it still trails Ferrari's pure sports cars for sensation.



The thundering howl is more 599 GTO than GTB

The FF is a perfect tool for cross-country blaze. Its dual-clutch gearbox might be less incisive than that on 458, but is smooth and fuss-free. Its ride is absorbent for country roads. Its steering, geared to a super-quick 2.3 turns lock-to-lock, makes it incredibly nimble on twisty roads, just like a much smaller car. The 4RM system provides bags of traction regardless of road conditions. Not even thick snow surface can have it caught out. Such an all-weather, all-road versatility sometimes lead you believe you were driving a rally car !

Nevertheless, on dry roads the 4RM is not always welcomed. In slow to medium speed bends, you can feel the intervention of 4RM introduces understeer, straightening the nose and killing the chance of power oversteer. This sudden change of character is at odds to the otherwise rear-biased handling of the car. It makes the chassis less predictable and less intuitive to exploit than 599 as well as its predecessor.

As a result, the FF is probably not as thrilling to drive as you would expect a Ferrari to be. It trades some dramas for security and versatility. That might split opinions. While it still possesses a clear dynamic edge over Porsche, Bentley or Mercedes-AMG, whether it is worth double the price is not so clear. Anyway, Ferrari will be content if it can sell 800 cars a year. That is only a small fraction of its cheaper alternatives.
Verdict: 
 Published on 2 Jul 2016
All rights reserved. 
GTC4 Lusso


Although it is not a common sight on street, every time I see Ferrari FF, its shape and its noise rock me. There is nothing quite like it on the market – a low-slung shooting brake with V12 power and a unique part-time 4WD system. Time goes quickly. Now the car is 5 years old thus it is time to have a refresh. The FF has been updated and given a new name, GTC4 Lusso. Despite of the new name, it is not a big leap like the one from 458 Italia to 488GTB, nor from California to California T. Traditionally, mid-life updates of Ferrari front-engined 4-seaters are rather subtle. This has been the cases of 400, 400i, 412 and 456M (612 even got no update during its 7-years life). Why? Because the sales volume of this line has always been a few hundred units a year, which means it takes longer time to recoup the initial investment. Compared with its predecessors, the GTC4 Lusso is already very lucky, because its gets an all-new interior, a small power boost and real chassis update.

But first of all, it has received a nice facelift. The original FF was well-proportioned, but there were many rough edges in its styling details. GTC4 has them polished. Its nose gets cleaner thanks to combining all intakes into a wider front grille. The headlights get slimmer. The contoured bonnet is more stylish. As are the shark-like side louvers, smaller quad-taillights, redesigned diffusers and reshaped tail spoiler. Overall, it looks sleeker and more elegant than the FF. Its drag coefficient is lowered by 6 percent, too.



Even better is the cabin. The entire dashboard, steering wheel, seats and infotainment system are all new. Its materials and build quality are finally top notch (although Bentley Continental GT remains better). The infotainment system with its large, 10.25-inch touchscreen is a night-and-day difference to the cheap one of FF. Its graphics are clear, the interface easy to use and operation is slick. Many controls have been integrated into the flat-bottom steering wheel for easier access, including phone, audio, instrument configuration and Manettino switch. There is also 16 mm more legroom sculpted from the rear seats, so the car can truly take four 6-footers on board. The sense of openness can be enhanced further by the panoramic glass roof (introduced in late 2012). At the back, the boot can swallow 450 liters of luggage or 800 liters with the rear seats folded. Sounds awful for an “estate”, but it is already a revolution to Ferrari.

The engine is still that 6.3-liter V12, but it gains 30 horsepower and 10 lbft of torque thanks to increasing compression ratio from 12.3:1 to 13.5:1 (like F12) and revised exhaust, making a total of 690 hp and 514 lbft. I think Ferrari could have easily reduced its emission yet boosting performance further by using the turbocharged V8 of 488GTB, which nearly matches the V12 for top end power while overwhelming it in torque, especially at lower revs as the V12 takes 5750 rpm to realize its peak torque. However, it is a joy to see the good old naturally aspirated V12 lives on. Its sound, smoothness, crisped throttle response and linear power delivery are unrivalled, as is its enthusiasm to chase the 8250 rpm red line. More so than the 488GTB motor, you need to work harder to squeeze rpm and power from it, but the rewards and satisfaction are immense. Commit to the driving, you can get the car to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and perhaps top 208 mph if you can find a clean stretch of Autobahn, which is more than enough to scare your mother-in-law at the back seat.



Drive slowly, however, the GTC4 Lusso becomes a gentle cat. In fact, refinement, rather than performance, is the biggest improvement the car made over the FF. Ferrari added sound insulation, reinforced the suspension pick-up points and adopted a quieter air-con to reduce noise level in the cabin. Furthermore, the new exhaust system is made quieter before its flap opens. As a result, the car is hushed when being driven relaxingly – perhaps too quiet for a Ferrari. But up the pace and the exhaust flap opens to release the tiger side of the car, so it loses no excitement whenever you want. Likewise, ride quality at “bumpy” suspension mode is surprisingly smooth, while body control in sportier modes is better than any big GTs from Bentley or Mercedes. The twin-clutch gearbox also shifts seamlessly. The GTC4 is more versatile than FF.

Its handling is also better than before. Although it gains 40 kg in kerb weight, the new car has adopted the 4-wheel-steering system from F12 tdf. The purpose is different though – on the tdf, the 4WS is used to offset the inherent oversteer built into the car (it adopted wider front tires and more aggressive suspension geometry). The GTC4 does not alter its tires or suspension geometry, so the function of 4WS is to tighten its turning radius in slow corners and to stabilize high-speed lane change like most other 4WS systems used elsewhere. However, unlike rival systems, it steers the rear wheels in opposite direction briefly (for about a tenth of a second) at the initial cornering phase in order to sharpen the turn-in. This makes the big Ferrari feels more agile than before. The light yet super-quick steering rack still takes some getting used to. You have to recalibrate your mind how responsive such a big GT can be, then scale back you inputs to suit. However, the addition of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control algorithm (from 458 Speciale), which works with E-diff and adaptive dampers to precisely control the slip angle in bends, should make power slide more readily. That said, I suspect how many owners would take the GTC4 Lusso to race tracks.

On looser, greasier roads, the 4RM system provides dependable traction and grip. Itself is also updated, with faster and more precise power transfer to the front axle. It is also capable to direct more power (now 90 percent) to either front wheel. By integrating the control system of 4RM with the 4WS system into something called 4RM-S, the vices of the previous 4RM seem to be largely rectified. There is less understeer when the front PTU engaged. In fact, now it is hard to sense whether power is being shuffled to the front axle. It goes without saying the best 4WD system is the one you don’t know its existence.

So the GTC4 Lusso is not a revolutionary update, but all its modifications add up to a sizeable improvement over the FF. It’s not quite as sharp or involving to drive as the F12 or 488, of course, but as far as a 4-seater is concerned, nothing else comes close. It is finally a 5-star car.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
FF
2011
Front-engined, 4WD
Aluminum spaceframe
Aluminum
4907 / 1953 / 1379 mm
2990 mm
V12, 65-degree
6262 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
VIM
DI
660 hp / 8000 rpm
504 lbft / 6000 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 295/30ZR20
1880 kg (kerb) / 1790 kg (dry)
208 mph (c)
3.6 (c)
-
GTC4 Lusso
2016
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Aluminum spaceframe
Aluminum
4922 / 1980 / 1383 mm
2990 mm
V12, 65-degree
6262 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
VIM
DI
690 hp / 8000 rpm
514 lbft / 5750 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 295/30ZR20
1920 kg (kerb) / 1790 kg (dry)
208 mph (c)
3.3 (c)
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GTC4 Lusso



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