The FF: The Ferrari Four.
The Ferrari Four. Four as in four-wheel drive. Four as in the four comfortable seats that cocoon driver and occupants alike. A four-seater that utterly changes the whole GT sports car concept, hailing nothing short of a revolution in the automotive world. Even the most cursory glance at the FF’s sleek, Pininfarina-penned super model profile will tell you that. Drive it - anywhere, any time, in any weather or road conditions – and you’ll know why it’s so radical.
It may be a car that has elegance, beauty and art in its soul, but there’s much, much more to the FF than sophisticated allure. It was, in fact, designed specifically to tackle the toughest, most complex and ambitious of driving challenges. The kind of challenges that the most uncompromising and discerning drivers will want to set it. Drivers that demand their cars give of their all. Effortlessly. Regardless of weather or surface. The FF will more than match anything that’s asked of it because it is quite simply the most versatile car ever produced by the pens, computers, wrenches and milling machines used by the Prancing Horse technicians, engineers, designers and mechanics.
The FF: a name, as we said, inspired by the car’s four generous, body-hugging seats and, more significantly, the new Prancing Horse-patented four-wheel drive system. Purists will be overjoyed to know that it is still the rear wheels that actually provide the power, with torque being transferred only to the front axle when required and even then intelligently and predicatively distributed to all four wheels. Yet another reason why this is the most versatile Ferrari ever built.
But take note: the FF is also the most exclusive GT on the market, the very pinnacle of achievement in the “extreme GT” segment, the most powerful four-seater in the world. It has it all: exceptional, class-topping performance that pushes its signature Ferrari thoroughbred DNA and driving pleasure to the utmost, regardless of weather or terrain. Even on snow, ice and dirt. The FF also sets a new benchmark in terms of sheer innovation: it is the first four-wheel drive V12 with a rear-mounted electronic differential, the E-Diff. The Ferrari-patented four-wheel drive system is unique and is also integrated with the new generation F1-Trac traction control developed specifically for the track. The FF is also the first and only V12 in the world to sport a seven-speed dual-clutch F1 gearbox and it boasts a 20 per cent increase in power with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. The FF offers four occupants superb comfort with body-hugging seats and absolutely unprecedented cabin and luggage space for a car in its category. Unparalleled chassis engineering gives authentic sports car dynamics, with powerful brakes and an uncompromising suspension set-up. It also boasts the best weight-power ratio ever achieved, thanks in part to the fact that its patented four-wheel drive system is just 50 per cent the weight of a traditional version. Style-wise, the FF is sculptural yet streamlined: it has an innovative shooting brake shape, modern styling cues, and third millennium aerodynamic and conceptual solutions to underscore its sporty stance. It is also unique on several levels: for instance, special exterior colours were specifically designed for the FF and the leather that adorns the interior has been subject to an innovative treatment to enhance its natural beauty. The FF is tailored to perfection to suit the exclusive style of its owner. It’s as much a car for day-to-day driving as it is for extraordinarily unique occasions. A car you can drive alone or share on a road trip with three other occupants. A car to take it easy in or really push to the limits. A Ferrari that demands to be driven. A Ferrari to test your skills in. A dream car.
The 4RM is an entirely new system that transmits torque to all four wheels of the car. A Ferrari patent, it is the main innovation sported by the new FF. Unlike a conventional four-wheel drive system fitted to a front-engined car, it allows the retention of the traditional mid-front engine architecture, with rear transaxle connected to the engine by a single driveshaft. Added to this is the new Power Transfer Unit or PTU for the front wheels, which is connected directly to the engine and located over the front axle.
This layout permits:
- a 50% saving in weight compared to a traditional four-wheel drive system. This greatly benefits the FF’s weight-to-power ratio and thus its performance;
- a low centre of gravity to be maintained and the retention of Ferrari’s sports car weight distribution with more than 50% of weight over the rear axle despite it being a front-engined car.
The PTU is the main mechanical component of the 4RM and manages the difference between the engine and wheel speeds. It also controls the amount of torque sent to the front wheels in general and distributes it between left and right as required. The PTU gets its power and torque directly from the crankshaft through a system of gearbox ratios. Two independent carbon-fibre oil-bath wet multi-plate clutch packs then vector the torque to a half-shaft connected to each front wheel. Thus, there is no mechanical connection between rear and front axles as they are linked to two completely independent traction systems. This means the FF can be rear-wheel drive-only so that none of the exhilarating driving pleasure associated with this kind of car is lost.
Lastly, the multi-disc clutches also deal with the different speeds of rotation between the front and rear axles, and between the individual front wheels, fulfilling the function of the centre and front differentials in a traditional 4WD system. Furthermore, the front clutches are completely independent and have torque vectoring functions to allow different amounts of torque to be sent to the left and right wheels. The amount of torque transmitted is controlled by closing the disc packs in the individual clutches. The PTU is also very compact (barely 170 mm long) and extremely light with the result that the 4RM weighs 50% less than a conventional 4WD system.
The hydraulic gear and clutch actuation system is integrated into the PTU, as with the F1 Dual Clutch gearbox, and this delivers absolutely blistering gear-shifting times and thus improved system responsiveness.