2012 Ferrari FF Review

Story by Benjamin Greene

Originally published by Dupont Registry: http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/blog/post/2011/03/23/First-drive-of-the-Ferrari-FF.aspx

2012 Ferrari FF near roller coaster

Ferrari rounded up the usual suspects for some drive time with the new Ferrari FF in the mountains of Italy. Here are their impressions:

Exterior looks were respected but not loved by most. Automobile said the Ferrari FF “isn't exactly beautiful to our eyes, but it is, however, bad-ass awesome looking” and AutoWeek said the car is “not exactly beautiful, but this Pininfarina-penned coupe is charming.” InsideLine seemed the most impressed with the car’s metal, saying the “two-box GT styling looks fantastic.”

Everyone loved the Enzo-based 6.3-liter 651-hp V-12 engine for its output and exhaust note. All agreed that the FF will easily consume 0–60 mph in Ferrari’s estimated 3.7 seconds. However, Motor Trend was not fond of the FF’s engine noise below the 6,000 rpm threshold, specifically comparing it to a “UPS truck or a Viper.”

The Ferrari FF’s power will be routed through two transmissions, one for the rear wheels and one for the front wheels. The front transmission sits ahead of the front-mid engine, connects to the crankshaft through a conical gear, and offers two forward gears and a reverse gear. Power will only be diverted to the front wheels when the car is about to lose traction at the rear wheels. Also, Because of the gear ratios of the two forward gears in that front transmission, the four-wheel-drive system does not work above the fourth cog. Motor Trend and Automobile both called “BS” to Ferrari’s claims that the new 4RM system was put in place only for better traction in bad weather. Both believed it was to downplay the adoption of four-wheel drive like its rival Lamborghini has in all its cars. All the magazines said the 4RM system was transparent but added a level of assurance in corners and while accelerating that you cannot find in the other Ferrari cars.

Like its forbearer the 612, the FF’s grip on the road was surprising considering the car’s physical presence. InsideLine said the FF “responds like a much lighter car.” Automobile said the car “flat-out refuses to understeer, clinging to the road at vomit-inducing cornering loads.” Car and Driver said the FF didn’t exhibit the reluctance to hit a corner like the 599 or 612, and its steering was direct though a little numb. Automobile concurred, calling the FF’s steering a “bit overassisted and slightly numb, but perfectly accurate.” Motor Trend was the most disparaging, stating that it was “too light and doesn't communicate half the road-surface detail you get from a 458 or Porsche 911 helm.”

Ferrari FF rear in snow

It was unanimous that the Ferrari FF was the most capable cold-weather Ferrari ever. Motor Trend said “the car clawed its way around the intimidatingly icy-bermed course with aplomb,” Car and Driver said “the FF uses its four-wheel-drive to reduce understeer in the snow, but also keep the handling predictable in the dry,” and InsideLine said that in the snow “anyone could drive this.”

Inside, both Car and Driver and InsideLine found issue with the car’s Chrysler-based navigation. InsideLine called it the “least impressive aspect of the car,” and Car and Driver called it “not only disgracefully downmarket but also not very good.” Another source of disappointment was the car’s automatic mode for the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Automobile said that “the automatic mode is a bit of a misnomer: it's really only semi-automatic, as it won't perform multiple full-throttle downshifts.” Motor Trend noticed the same thing, saying “it resists kicking down from cruising speeds to the gear that will produce max acceleration for passing in automatic mode.” All the magazine agreed that backseats were comfortable for adults. AutoWeek stated specifically that “adults up to nearly six feet tall can fit comfortably in the rear buckets.”

Overall, Motor Trend called the car a disappointment compared to the 458 Italia and was just too “automated and idiot-proofed.” Car and Driver said the FF was worth the year-plus wait but that there was no specific reason for someone to pick up the FF over its rivals, summing it up by saying that the FF is “not…as sporty as the Porsche Panamera…it doesn’t have the all-conquering comfort of cars like the Mercedes-Benz CL-class, and it’s not a wholly emotional car that transcends all subjective measures.” AutoWeek was more fond of the 458 Italia, stating that the 458 is “certainly more nimble and probably more fun from the driver's perspective. The Italia is also about half the price.” InsideLine pointed to why the FF works best: it addresses a major flaw in Ferrari’s other “three-season cars” by providing a Ferrari for “every day, every condition.”

[via Automobile, AutoWeek, Car and Driver, InsideLine, and Motor Trend]