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Tuesday 1st March 2011


Ferrari FF - In The Metal At Last!

Geneva reveal for Ferrari's novel 208mph 'four-wheel-driver'


There's nothing like a Ferrari reveal to really apply the gloss to a Geneva show, and a new range-topper is even better. So here at last, after the teaser shots and development viral videos, is the new FF, or 'Ferrari Four' (so that's Ferrari-Ferrari Four, to give it its rather uncomfortable full name).


The FF is Ferrari's response to feedback from frustrated 612 Scaglietti owners who had to leave their cars in the garage when it came to skiing trips. They wanted a more practical 'big' Ferrari, and with 450-800 litres of luggage space, their requests have been answered.

It's a car of massive visual impact, partly because of the love it-loathe it styling, but also, as with its 612 predecessor, the sheer dimensions mean it takes up a formidable chunk of road space. And yes, there is a certain similarity with a Munich-bred, much-loved motoring oddity.

Still, If you want a historic reference to all this, there was a 'Breadvan' version of the iconic 250 GTO back in the 1960s - even if that was created outside of the factory - so there is some form for prancing horses in this mould.


As we've reported before, it's powered by a huge 6.3-litre V12 with direct fuel injection, pumping out 651bhp at a screaming 8,000rpm and 504lb ft of torque. Using a double-clutch F1 'box, it can get from 0-62mph in 3.7sec and go on to 208mph.

It's also the firm's first ever four-wheel drive car using a system Ferrari has termed 4RM. The company has traced the root of this technology back to a development program begun in 1987 by the legendary Ferrari engineer Mauro Forghieri. The man who had such a hand in creating Ferrari's cars through the 60s, 70s and 80s commenced the build of two prototypes between 1987 and 1989 known as the 408/4RM. These were ostensibly to compare the properties of chassis materials - one had a laser welded stainless steel tub, the other a bonded Aluminium structure; we know what Ferrari decided to pursue - and also to explore the primitive early world of computer design. They also had unique 4-litre V8 engines rated at 299bhp and adjustable suspension, while the mechanicals were clothed in some typically 'eighties style' glassfibre sandwich panels.


As the name hinted, they were also four-wheel drive, and it's a development of this initial idea that Ferrari has used on the FF, albeit adapted for a front-engined car. In the 408, a form of hydraulic coupling was developed to sense a loss of traction at the rear axle and send torque to the front: in the FF a similar coupling is used, but the transmission actually takes drive from both ends of the crankshaft. Drive to the rear is sent as usual via a propshaft, but due to the extreme front-mid position of the big V12, Ferrari has found the space to hang a hydraulic coupling off the front of the engine and take additional drive to the front wheels via some half shafts. When the rear wheels begin to slip the car's sophisticated electronics intervene, engaging the front axle to a varying degree. The great benefit, says Ferrari, is a four-wheel drive system that weighs 50% less than conventional systems without the need for propshafts running up and down the car.


Even so, the FF is no lightweight at 1,790kg dry. Owners might need more than a shovel and an old towrope to dig it out of a snowdrift at their chalet. And despite Ferrari's stop-start system, the combined fuel figure is 18.3mpg. One thing's for certain: it's a Ferrari like no other.

 











 

Author: Adam Towler

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145 comments on this story

Last comment was by zebedee
on 7th March 2011