Geneva motor show exclusive: Ferrari FF interview


Autoblog was granted an exclusive audience with Ferrari at the Geneva motor show today to talk about the new FF.

This is the most radical front-engined Ferrari in the company's history, so there was plenty to talk about.

Geneva Motor Show 2011

Geneva Motor Show 2011

First of all it should be said that the car looks completely different in the metal. The first pictures showed a rather strange sports estate, slightly reminiscent of the old BMW Z3M.

In reality, the size and proportions of the car make it look unique as well as far more dynamic than the images suggest. Unfortunately, most of us will have to wait until the car goes on sale (July for mainland Europe, October for the UK) to see it for ourselves.

The concept of the FF results from some very hard thinking at Ferrari. In markets such as the UK, mid engine cars traditionally make up 75% of their sales. Indeed a Ferrari insider once confided to us, "I don't know why we bother with front-engined cars."

Ferrari has seen the very healthy sales figures of cars like the Bentley Continental, which offer lots of space plus 4wd practicality and was determined to find a way of making a Ferrari that was both true to the brand and practical.

The key to the FF is the brilliantly elegant 4wd system. The conventional solution to make a rear-drive car 4wd is to fit a transfer gearbox that takes the drive going to the rear, splits it and sends some of it forwards again with a second prop shaft.

However, that is heavy and uses a lot of space – OK in a Range Rover, not good in a Ferrari. Instead, the front drive for the FF comes straight off the front of the crankshaft, saving 200kg reckons Ferrari. Normally, the FF is rear drive but, if a low-grip surface is detected, it automatically sends up to 30% of the power to the front wheels.

The interior is also a radical departure. This 6ft 4 inch correspondent really could sit in the rear seats without bumping his head on the roof and Ferrari says one six-footer can easily sit behind another six-footer, a claim we can confirm.

The boot requires fitted luggage to make decent use of the space (as if Ferrari owners would use any other type) and two small and two medium-sized cases fit comfortably. For more space, the rear seats split 40/20/40, so skis can fit between the two rear passengers – there are plenty of hatchbacks that cannot do that.

Ferrari reckons the FF will almost double the sales of the old 612 in the UK, and we would agree. Its looks may need a little acclimatisation, but it is such a clever concept that buyers will soon be won over. It really is an original idea, and that does not happen very often.

Geneva Motor Show 2011

Geneva Motor Show 2011