First Drive: 2012 Ferrari FF


The FF, chassis code F151, is about the same size and weight as the 612 Scaglietti it replaces, though it’s almost an inch and a half taller. Its wheelbase is about four inches longer -- half of the additional distance between the wheels went to additional back-seat room, the other to package the four-wheel-drive system.

The back seat is very usable, and in fact we stuffed four grown men inside, ranging from five feet, nine inches to six feet, two inches -- with the tallest guy behind the driver, who was second tallest. There was not a single complaint to be heard over the sonorous V-12. Add to that a trunk with more cargo space than a Porsche Panamera’s, and you have a car that’s dramatically more usable than its predecessor. As a bonus, the rear seatbacks fold down to expand cargo capacity even further. Ah, the magic of hatchbacks.

The hatch provides great rearward visibility, too -- at least by this segment’s standards. Double-pane frameless windows keep wind noise outside, and the latest version of Ferrari’s magneto-rheological suspension offers a supple ride, despite its large, twenty-inch wheels. That the computer-controlled suspension quells every single unnecessary body movement goes without saying.

One of the FF’s coolest options (in addition to a JBL sound system rated at 1.7 horsepower worth of sound output) is a small LCD screen inset into the passenger-side dash. The monochrome display isn’t particularly high-res, but it can show a number of trip-computer functions or a so-called “performance screen” that displays gear, engine RPM, and road speed. Ferrari enabled a special screen for the media launch that showed the amount of power going to the front wheels; it’s a shame that screen won’t make it into customer cars. (Unless Ferrari’s engineers read this and change their minds.) We’re hoping that Ferrari changes its mind about a power rear lift gate that it’s developing for the U.S. market. A heavy device mounted so high in the car would be sacrilege to a company so performance-obsessed.

Ferrari wagon, Porsche 4 door... What next? A Lamborghini minivan or maybe a Lotus Hummer? It *is* nice to see high end and exotic car manufacturers taking care of our rich friends and their needs. For example, it's hard to get those mega-packs of toilet paper from Costo home in a classy sports car. Wait, did I just say the FF and Panamera aren't classy? Shame on me!

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