Ferrari FF

Practical, four-wheel-drive four-seater is a departure for Ferrari, so does it still have the Maranello magic?

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4.0 out of 5

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Ferrari deserves credit for trying something different. The shooting-brake looks will divide opinion, but there’s no arguing with the acceleration and exhaust note. Four-wheel drive makes the performance even easier to access and the FF isn’t as intimidating as a 458, plus it carries four and their luggage in comfort. The only problem is the huge price.

Ferrari’s road car line-up has never been in such good shape. The 458 continues to sweep the competition aside, the California has recently been refreshed, while the spectacular F12 Berlinetta and a replacement for the Enzo are due before the end of the year. And now the mould-breaking FF has arrived in the UK.

This is the first production Ferrari to use four-wheel drive, the first to feature a shooting-brake body and the first to combine Ferrari’s superb seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox with a V12 engine. And what an engine.

It’s related to the Enzo’s 6.0-litre, but its capacity has grown to 6.3 litres. It offers the same 651bhp output but even more torque – so you have truly explosive performance on tap whenever you feel the need.

The engine also serves up the most extraordinary cacophony of sounds, ranging from a sharp bark when you fire it up to a hollow howl at low speeds and an F1-style shriek as you approach the 8,000rpm limiter.

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Yet it’s not just neck-snapping straight-line pace that sets the FF apart: it’s the fact that it’s so ridiculously easy to drive quickly. The four-wheel-drive system sends maximum power to the rear tyres until it senses them beginning to slip. At that point, a separate gearbox mounted at the front of the engine (called the PTU) sends power to the front.

It sounds complicated, but it’s a much lighter solution than a traditional four-wheel-drive set-up involving prop shafts and differentials. On the exit of corners, you can feel it clawing at the tarmac and boosting grip.

Flick the steering wheel-mounted Manettino switch to Sport mode and the ESP safety net ensures safe and predictable understeer if you take too much speed into a corner. Turn the electronics off altogether and you’ll get the slightest hint of oversteer before the FF locks back on to your intended line.

The steering is light but always twitching away in your hands, and the FF has the same super-quick turn-in as the 458. But the rest of the package couldn’t be any more different.

Although taut enough to control the body brilliantly, the suspension cushions where a 458’s would crash, and besides some road roar from the massive cross-section tyres, refinement is on par with a Porsche Panamera’s.

The interior isn’t perfect, but still manages to feel sporty and luxurious at the same time. Our main criticisms concern dated sat-nav graphics, the random smattering of buttons around the cabin and paddles that feel a little flimsy compared to those of a Porsche 911 PDK box, but the fit and finish is top-notch.

Two usable rear seats, complete with entertainment screens, and a 450-litre boot (800 litres with the seats down) bolster the FF’s family car credentials.

There’s no ignoring that astronomical price tag, though. And remember, £227,077 is just the base price – our car came with a huge list of extras (such as triple-layer Rosso Maranello paint for £11,040), taking the total up to a staggering £275,827.

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