V12-powered Continent crushers have always been a Ferrari forte, so this car has a lot to live up to. By introducing four-wheel drive and a rather distinctive body style to the mix, it breaks with tradition and the FF’s styling has been, let’s be tactful here, divisive.
For those with fond memories of the BMW M Coupe it looks great though. For some, though, it’s a step too far. But remember that coachbuilders have been producing shooting brake variants of Ferrari’s cars for wealthy customers for decades. Some – such as the 365 GTC/4 Break by Felber – are hideous. Others – the 456 Venice by Pininfarina for example – are beautiful.
At just shy of five metres it’s not a small car but with its long wheelbase the wheels really do sit in the corners, while the V12 engine is set right back ‘front-mid’ style behind the front axle. The result is a car that really does seem to shrink you as you tap into its remarkable agility.
Nimble for a big lad
The steering is surprisingly quick and the nose darts into turns. Even when you think you have been a bit ambitious, it dives for the apex and hangs on. The overwhelming sensations – in dry conditions at least – are of grip, grip and more grip. With a soupcon of body roll. It just digs in, hangs on and as soon as you ask for it, unleashes hell. Just when you expect the rear to give up and incinerate the tyres, it finds away to convert the firepower into forward motion.
458 Italia and the inner hooligan of the 599, it counters with all-weather ability and wonderful suppleness. The hallmarks of any great GT. Subjectively it feels every bit as fast as its stablemates, mind. Top speed: 208mph. The benchmark sprint: 3.7 seconds. Plenty quick.
You do miss the ‘click-clack’ of a classic open-gated manual gearbox on sentimental grounds, but the seven-speed twin-clutch is incredibly fast, smooth and proficient. It’s even pretty acceptable in auto mode, although rather keen to shuffle cogs when you feather the accelerator. The massive carbon ceramic brakes are extremely powerful – way beyond the demands of road driving – but there is a slight lack of pedal feel on initial application that keeps them short of perfection.
It’s effortless and epic and of course it doesn’t make any sense at all that it costs more than the average four-bed detached house. But the buyers won’t care. And let’s be honest, you’ll be checking the classifieds for 612 Scaglietti prices and planning for the future. Let us save you the trouble: £50K-ish. 456s are under £30K. Start saving now!
Engine: 6,262cc V12
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto, part-time four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 650@8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 503@6,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.7 sec
Top speed: 208mph
MPG: 15.4mpg (NEDC combined)
Price: £227,100 (£272,000 as tested)