Once upon a time the only shoe in town was the venerable BMW E36/8 M3 coupe, followed by it’s eventual E86 successor but then in late 2011 Ferrari has got with the athletic-shoe program and offered us the impressive 458 Italia inspired “FF.” (FF meaning “Ferrari Four”, for four seats and four-wheel drive)
The FF shares the design language of contemporary Ferraris, including the pulled-back headlights of the 458 Italia, and the twin circular taillights seen on the 458 as well as the 599 GTB Fiorano. Designed under the direction of Lowie Vermeersch, former Design Director atPininfarina, work on the shooting brake concept initially started following the creation of the Sintesi show car of 2007. Distinctive styling elements include a large egg-crate grille, defined side skirts, and four exhaust tips. The shooting brake configuration is a departure from the conventional wedge shape of modern Ferraris, and the FF has been likened to the similarly-shaped 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Drogorace car.
The combination of hatchback-like shooting-brake design and collapsible rear seats gives the Ferrari FF a boot capacity of between 450 litres (16 cu ft) to 800 litres (28 cu ft).
The Ferrari FF has the largest capacity road-going Ferrari engine ever produced: a 6,262 cc (6.3 L; 382.1 cu in) naturally aspirated direct injected 65° V12, which produces 660 PS (485 kW; 651 hp) at 8,000 rpm and 683 N·m (504 lb·ft) of torque at 6000 rpm.
The new four-wheel drive system, engineered and patented by Ferrari, is called 4RM: it is around 50% lighter than a conventional system, and provides power intelligently to each of the four wheels as needed. It only functions when the manettino dial on the steering wheel is in the “comfort” or “snow” positions, leaving the car most often in the traditional rear wheel drive layout.
This system is based around a second, simple, gearbox (gears and other components built by Carraro, taking power from the front of the engine. This gearbox (designated “power take off unit”, or PTU) has only two forward gears (2nd and 4th) plus reverse (with gear ratios 6% taller than the corresponding ratios in the main gearbox), so the system is only active in 1st to 4th gears. The connection between this gearbox and each front wheel is via independent haldex-type clutches, without a differential. Due to the difference in ratios “the clutches continually slip” and only transmit, at most, 20% of the engine’s torque. A detailed description of the system (based on a conversation with Roberto Fedeli, Ferrari’s technical director) has been published.