When it comes to exotic luxury GT cars, Ferrari has always had something to offer the people that can actually afford or justify the purchase. From the 60’s 330 GT 2+2, 70’s 365 GTC/4, 80’s 400i, 90’s 456, or the 2000’s 612 Scaglietti, Ferrari has always offered a road car for the discerning enthusiast that seeks Ferrari ingenuity in a softer more drivable package than their standard hard-core fare. Subsequently the Ferrari luxury GT is something of an oddity, always a bit different in every aspect as compared to their usually exceptional sports car offerings. These models from years past are more of a novelty for most owners/collectors and are not generally know to be the best representation of the Ferrari brand or driving experience. But hey, it’s Ferrari and at the end of the day - any Ferrari is something special to someone.
Fast forward and enter 2011. The introduction of a luxury GT from Ferrari that will move their brand into the future faster than any of their past or current sports car offerings. Where the car created has no competition or category to compare to.
Welcome to the Ferrari FF.
When the opportunity arose to test the Ferrari FF from our brand partner Ferrari San Diego, you know we didn’t have to think twice about saying yes. So the arrangements were made and a 2014 fully loaded FF was delivered for a 3 day 500 mile test - Targa Trophy style.
Since the FF was introduced, it has been a bit of a favorite in our circles as this really embodies so many characteristics that we love at Targa Trophy. Performance, technology, design and believe it or not - practicality.
By now most of you know the story with the FF. It’s a 4 seat, 651HP V12, 7-speed dual clutch, AWD touring car that defies what you would expect from Ferrari normally, as this car really embodies the term “retro futuristic.”
The styling by legendary design house Pininfarina harkens back to the 60’s “shooting brake” aesthetic, which gives the FF a unique look in todays market while aiding the functionality of the cars people and cargo hauling capabilities. Inside, the interior is luxury Ferrari. Not your typical Ferrari sport bucket, the seats in the FF are soft, supportive, and well bolstered for what we would like to call “performance traveling.”
All of the gauges, buttons, infotainment and overall layout of the cabin is top notch to say the least. The current interior design aesthetic at Ferrari is really on another level from any other manufacturer. The feel inside is 100% bespoke, yet minimal and design forward. Giving a feel of real luxury, on a very fashionable level, just like you would expect from something made in Italy.
From a performance standpoint - the FF is a completely new Ferrari experience. Once the Enzo derived V12 fires up, put the car in first gear and hit the gas you realize, this is a very livable/refined driving experience. The car is essentially quiet running (by Ferrari standards) around city streets doing the day to day. The ride is soft and supple, with the unique aspect of decent ground clearance, which is not normally associated with the Prancing Horse. Things like dips and driveways are really no worries and rough roads are soaked up nicely by the FF's dampening system.
That being said, when you are ready to get the quintessential Ferrari vibe - loud, orchestral and metallic - all it takes is a shift in the attitude of your right foot and you are now in full V12 heaven! And let’s be clear, as V12’s go - this is the best in the business. As this engine surpasses 4,000 rpm, the choir of the most historic team in all of motorsports is unleashed for your aural pleasure.
After tooling around in the FF in the confines of the San Diego suburbs, we decided to take it on a bit of a scenic adventure to the back roads of San Diego. Anyone with any knowledge of west coast canyon carving knows that LA and San Diego possess the best driving roads in all of So Cal. San Diego specifically has some back roads that defy belief and allow not only a scenic adventure, but a performance driving opportunity that is second to none.
On the highway, the FF is an absolute dream. Such a comfortable cruiser, you would have no problem spending hours on end on the road, no matter the region or climate you are in. Cruising at 80mph is nice and quiet in 7th gear, but if the need or opportunity arrises, a quick flip down 2 or 3 gears changes the mood completely and thrust mode is on! Even pulling from 7th gear to pass is a quick acceleration with the 651hp and 504 lb-ft of torque on tap from the amazing V12.
Once off the highway, it was time to stretch the legs of the FF in the back roads of East County San Diego. This is where the FF really starts to impress. As you may be able to tell in these photos or if you have seen an FF in person, it is a relatively big car, very long and very wide. Surprisingly, the FF handles like a hard core GT, which was very pleasing considering the docile nature of the car around town and on the highways. In typical Ferrari fashion, the steering rack of the car is laser sharp with a very nice feel for the road through the wheel.
The FF AWD system is interesting as well, but once behind the wheel, you do not feel your typical AWD driving sensation. This is because of the unique AWD system created by Ferrari specifically for the FF. Basically, the car is RWD at all times. Depending on road conditions or driving style, power is driven into the front wheels to aid traction and stability. This creates a driving experience that is very confidence inspiring for a high horsepower car and ultimately makes for a very neutral driving dynamic. Pushed hard enough though, power oversteer can be induced with a very sure footed feel and we like that!
Ripping through the canyons the FF is just totally composed. For such a big car, body roll is minimal. The power band on the V12 is ideal for performance driving on tight roads as you can keep it in 3rd-4th gear most of the time between switchbacks, with power always on tap and ready to rev out to the 8,000 rpm red line at a moments notice. This particular FF came with the optional shift lights on the top of the steering wheel which is such a nice option, as this gives you the full F1 experience. From the Targa Trophy perspective, this may be the ultimate road rally car/long distance high performance cruiser. Supercar power combined with luxury feel and high performance handling make this a package that is one-of-a-kind.
The Ferrari FF really is an anomoly. It does everything different from your typical luxury GT and it does everything better. We've driven the standard exotic V12 luxury GT's - from the Bentley GT, to the Aston Martin Rapide or DBS, to even the Porsche Panamera Turbo. All good cars in their own right, but not the complete package. Maybe the closest thing handling wise would be the Panamera. But once you factor in all the other elements the FF brings to the table, the Panamera goes out the window. Now let's be honest - the FF you see here is $385K - so this right off the bat takes many people out of the buying equation. But if you can afford it and want the Ferrari heritage combined with the performance advantage and design exclusivity - there really is no other car on the market that compares to the FF. So we coin the phrase, "Future Perfect." We think so!
Photos by Mo Satarzadeh - www.mophotodesign.com
Ferrari FF courtesy of Ferrari San Diego & Ferrari North America - www.ferrariofsandiego.com
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