Used 2012 Ferrari FF
Edmunds' Expert Review
A practical Ferrari? With the roomy four-passenger and all-weather-capable 2012 Ferrari FF, that expression needn't be an oxymoron.
Despite what you see in print and video advertisements, those who own exotic sports cars don't always get to drive where the roads are smooth and dry and the weather is perfect. The 2012 Ferrari FF is an exotic car for those driving enthusiasts who live where it's not perpetually 75 degrees and sunny with no chance of precipitation. In other words, most parts of the world.
The FF replaces the 612 Scaglietti and as such has four seats, as well as a front-mounted V12 engine. But that's where the similarities end. The FF sports all-wheel drive and a sport wagon-influenced body style. The former provides foul-weather drivability, while the latter provides more cargo space and true four-passenger capability. The car's name drives home the advantages of this practical supercar – "FF" stands for Ferrari Four (four seats/four-wheel drive).
Underneath, the FF features an efficient four-wheel-drive system that boasts lightweight materials and clever engineering that eliminates the need for a second heavy driveshaft and a transfer case. As a result, Ferrari says the system weighs about half of what a conventional AWD system would. Power comes by way of a new 6.3-liter V12 engine that funnels its considerable might through a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission that sends the thrust onward to the AWD system. The end result is a supercar that can seat four 6-footers while boasting a sub-4-second 0-60 time and a top speed of over 200 mph.
With a starting price of around $300,000, the 2012 Ferrari FF gives its fortunate owners -- all of the first two years' production run has reportedly been sold out -- a lot more than country club bragging rights on power, acceleration and speed. It gives them a lot more opportunities to actually enjoy driving the car.
2012 Ferrari FF configurations
The Ferrari FF is a two-door, four-passenger ultra-performance sports car that features a hatchback body style. It comes in one trim level.
Standard feature highlights on the FF include bi-xenon headlights, rear park assist, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation system and a 640-watt sound system with iPod integration and satellite radio.
In addition to furnishing additional luxury and convenience, the extensive options roster allows one to personalize their FF with a wide variety of interior/exterior color and upholstery choices. Optional highlights include custom paint, "Scuderia" shields on the front fenders, a front/rear suspension lift system, various wheels, sport exhaust, front park assist, front and rearview cameras, auto-dimming mirrors, active headlights, cruise control, carbon-fiber interior accents, full-power front seats, fitted luggage bags and a 1,280-watt premium sound system. Oddly, some high-end features -- such as keyless ignition/entry, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot warning -- are not available.
Performance & mpg
The all-wheel-drive 2012 Ferrari FF is powered by a 6.3-liter, direct-injected V12 that cranks out 651 horsepower and 504 pound-feet of torque. All that power is sent to the four wheels via a seven-speed "F1" automated clutch manual. The transmission allows automatic or manual operation, the latter controlled via steering-column-mounted shift paddles.
The FF's AWD setup transparently apportions torque as needed to individual wheels to optimize grip and performance at any given instant. Drivers have a choice of multiple throttle/stability control/suspension settings that include "Snow" and "Wet" in addition to the standard "Comfort," "Sport" and "Track" that are seen on other Ferrari models.
According to Ferrari, the FF can sprint to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 208 mph.
Antilock disc brakes, front side airbags, stability and traction control are standard. Rear park assist is standard while front is optional, as are front- and rearview cameras. A few high-tech safety features, such as lane-departure and blind spot warning systems, are not available.
The 2012 Ferrari FF is a grand touring car but drives with the moves of a dedicated two-place sports car. The FF thrills on straight roads nearly as much as it does on curvaceous ones, as the V12's wail rises and falls while you rapidly bang through the short-spaced gears of the seven-speed automated-clutch gearbox. Shifts are crisp and eye-blink quick and the transmission never balks -- even when a paddle is flicked for a downshift at high revs.
Of course, the spine-tingling performance and glorious soundtrack are fully expected of a car wearing a prancing horse in its grille. But what aren't -- and what make this car a practical exotic -- are the FF's comfortable ride and amazing poise and capability in slippery weather conditions, with credit going to the car's all-wheel-drive system and many adjustable driving parameters.
The FF is the most luxurious Ferrari yet, sporting an abundance of leather trim previously reserved for Aston Martins and Bentleys. Day-to-day usability can be frustrating, however. Beyond the antiquated touchscreen electronics interface shared with various Chryslers, the turn signal and windshield wiper control stalks have been removed in favor of buttons on the steering wheel. This was done to free up space for the large paddle shifters, but can be annoying nevertheless.
The four bucket seats are heavily bolstered and very supportive, though full power adjustment will cost you extra. At 193 inches long and 4,147 pounds, the FF is not exactly a petite sports car. But that long (117.7-inch) wheelbase helps to provide impressive room for the rear quarters. Indeed, Ferrari claims a pair of 6-foot-1 passengers can be accommodated back there. That said, they best be in decent shape, as those well-contoured buckets are not for the broad of beam.
Cargo capacity is generous for a sports car, with 15.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 28.3 cubes available with them folded down.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
It's Sunday afternoon, and our last glimpse of Venice came in our rearview mirror an hour ago. We're barreling north into Italy's Dolomite mountains to sample the 2012 Ferrari FF while a conga line of restless Italians inches south in the opposing lanes, their ski weekend over as they head home.
They're piloting various crossovers, some Range Rovers and a surprising number of Audi Quattro wagons and sedans. After awhile we realize we've driven for hours — in Italy — without seeing a single well-heeled Italian in a Ferrari of any description.
No surprise, really. The sun is out now, but fresh snow fell here over the last few days. And with their high horsepower and rear-wheel drive, Ferraris are environmentally constrained three-season cars, sunbelt cars. Ferrari thinks that's a deal killer for some potential Ferraristas.
The 2012 Ferrari FF is slated to address that problem via an ingenious "4RM" four-wheel-drive system that's coupled with hyper-advanced traction management. In the words of Ferrari engineering boss Roberto Fedeli, the FF is intended for "every day, every condition."
The 2012 Ferrari FF began as a thought experiment as Ferrari sought to replace the 612 Scaglietti, Ferrari's more traditionally laid-out V12-powered 2+2 coupe with pretend rear seats.
Mr. Fedeli, who could easily pass for Jon Stewart's quieter brother, tells us the new machine would have to meet the every day, every condition requirement, "without changing the weight of the car, without changing the size of the car."
So the brand-new FF weighs just 13 pounds more than the retiring Scaglietti (4,147 vs. 4,134 pounds) and its 193.2-inch length exceeds that of the 612 by a scant 0.2 inch. Their overall widths come within a tenth of an inch of one another.
Its four-passenger seating configuration does raise the roof by 1.4 inches, but the FF still stands 1.5 inches shorter than a Porsche Panamera.
Slipping Behind the Wheel
Our 6-foot 2-inch frame slips easily into the driver seat, where the view is all business. The steering wheel has progressive shift lights built into its upper rim. Two prominent fixed-position shift paddles sprout from the column behind — no other stalks or levers are to be seen.
That's because the controls for the headlights, turn signals and wipers have been moved onto the steering wheel to keep those paddles close at hand. The familiar rotary "manettino" switch dominates the lower right quadrant, but in the FF it has five positions instead of the usual three. Settings for Snow and Wet have been added alongside Comfort, Sport and Track.
Another button controls the damping range of the Magna-Ride magnetorheological shock absorbers. Nominally, these continuously variable suspension dampers operate in a normal range when the Manettino is set to Snow, Wet or Comfort, and they stiffen when it's set to Sport or Track. The button allows the driver to override the stiff program in Sport or Track if the road or racetrack isn't particularly smooth.
There's one more very important button on the wheel. It's big and it's red, but we push it anyway. The 6.3-liter V12 barks to life and settles into an expectant idle. We select 1st with the right-hand shift paddle and we're off.
That's the code name for the FF's all-new 6.3-liter V12 engine. The FF wouldn't qualify as a suitable 612 replacement unless it was also quicker and more powerful. The F140 EB delivers with 651 horsepower and 504 pound-feet of torque, a massive infusion of 119 more vigorously prancing horses and 70 additional lb-ft of torque than found in the Scaglietti.
Direct-injection (DI) is a big reason for this, as it allows the compression ratio to climb to a healthy 12.3:1 while delivering rated power on 91-octane super unleaded. Continuously variable intake and exhaust cam timing plays a big role, too, especially when it comes to torque. Fully 80 percent of peak torque, some 403 lb-ft of it, is available with only 1,750 rpm showing on the tach.
Myriad exotic coatings and other friction-reducing strategies operate invisibly, the most interesting of which may be the reed valves in the dry-sump oil pan that create negative pressure to help "pull" the pistons down. Multiply that by a dozen other little tricks and you get the big gains of the F140 EB.
On the Move
Our massively propulsed FF responds like a much lighter car, as there's plenty of torque for even the tightest uphill hairpins. The FF leaps from one end of its tach to the other just as quickly as it shoots from one tight corner to the next. A new multilink rear suspension maintains a firm, well-behaved footing throughout. Revised third-generation carbon-ceramic brakes offer immediate response and impeccable feel.
All the while the wailing V12 echoes eerily off the stone retaining walls, turning the heads of nearby skiers as we rapidly bang through the short-spaced gears of the new seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. It's a beefed-up version of the rear-mounted seven-cog transaxle found in the 458, making the FF the first ever V12 Ferrari with this many ratios.
But we're not bemoaning the lack of a third pedal here, not at all. This is one of the few AMTs that's actually riveting to drive. Shifts are crisp and fast, the software never balks at giving us a downshift at high revs and those shift levers are always close at hand.
A quick 11.5:1 steering ratio helps, too, as few of our steering inputs are ever large enough to lose track of those shift paddles. The 2012 Ferrari FF responds with the directness and precision of a two-seater, even though we're currently flogging this mostly clear asphalt road on winter tires.
You read that right — winter tires.
It's probably time to mention that the name FF stands for Ferrari Four. The second F stands for one of two things: four seats or four-wheel drive. But the so-called 4RM part-time four-wheel-drive system is like no other.
It's easiest to start by thinking of the FF as a typical rear-drive Ferrari. A seven-speed transaxle feeds engine torque to the rear tires through an electronically controlled E-diff that uses a pair of wet clutch packs to shunt power right or left depending on which tire has more traction at any given instant.
4RM builds on that at the front end, but there is no transfer case to send power to the front wheels via a second driveshaft. That would be heavy; that would eat into interior room. That would negate the design goals of the FF.
Instead there's a second smaller gearbox on the front end of the engine that's driven directly off the nose of the crankshaft. As with the E-diff in the back, two wet clutch packs vector the torque left or right. But here, by working together, they can also feather the total amount of torque sent to the front wheels, and that's why there are only two forward gear ratios up front.
Gear one operates when the rear transaxle is in 1st or 2nd. The clutches slip and deliver partial torque in 1st and firm up considerably in 2nd. Gear two operates the same way when the rear transaxle is in 3rd and 4th. The 4RM shifts to neutral and departs the scene in gears five through seven, at which time the FF is a pure rear-drive machine.
A central computer oversees it all, controlling the E-diff and the 4RM clutches to continuously ration torque among all four tires at any given moment, using highly accurate wheel speed sensors to make rapid-fire adjustments that are less perceptible than wheelspin would otherwise be.
This is where the snow tires come in, as Ferrari has prepared a mountaintop handling course of pure packed snow for us to play in. The 4RM system and the E-diff are hooked into the Manettino and its five settings.
Each of the five switch positions allows a different degree of tire slippage. In the Snow position, the FF navigates the course with no slip, no drama. It easily starts from rest on an uphill slope with no detectable wheelspin. Engine output is being managed throughout, but we're barely aware of it. Anyone could drive this.
Each position up from there allows a higher degree of wheel slip, vehicle speed and, if you're up for it, slip angles. We ratchet up through to the Sport setting, position four, at which point the system allows us to drift through corners, rally-style, at something like 45 degrees. We have to countersteer and work it, but the FF drifts right where we're aiming.
We get the point. With 4RM, Ferrari really has added something to the automotive engineering landscape. This is new. This is different. This really works. As long as the snow isn't too deep, you can drive this V12 Ferrari all year 'round.
Actually, Ferrari has an answer to that, too, in the form of an optional hydraulic lift system that raises the front and rear spring seats to gain 1.6 inches of additional ground clearance at the touch of a button.
Ferrari says the FF will accelerate from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds. We're in no position to doubt that here, but it'll be some months before we can measure a U.S. model on our own track on summer tires. For reference, the same "they say" scale says the 612 Scaglietti is good for 4.0 seconds.
And we can't comment on the feel of the car on the standard 245/35ZR20 and 295/35ZR20 summer tires. We didn't feel put out by squishier winter tires that were 10mm skinnier, so we're not worried. It won't suck.
The least impressive aspect of the car is probably the navigation system, which stands out in an otherwise well-trimmed interior because it's the same one found in our departed Dodge Ram 1500 long-term test truck. Sure, it brings Bluetooth streaming and iPod compatibility to the party, but the parts-bin nature of the thing is off-putting and it frequently lost its way, and ours, in the Dolomites.
In our mind the two-box GT styling looks fantastic. The only thing we notice from the driver seat is improved rear visibility over that of a standard coupe. Rear-seat passenger room is tight, though. With the driver seat adjusted to our liking, the seat behind it is only comfortable for an average size adult at most. Front and rear passengers will have to pair themselves off by height.
The Case for Lottery Tickets
No official pricing is available, but various hints pointed to a base price in the neighborhood of $300,000. That's a bit surreal, but based on what the 2012 Ferrari FF can do and what it is, this is entirely reasonable and consistent within the Ferrari context.
But suggested prices may not matter because we're hearing the FF is already sold out for the first two years before anyone has read driving impressions like these. Perhaps the FF's four-place, four-wheel-drive concept is resonating strongly enough on its own.
From where we've just sat, however, we fully expect to hear reports of Ferrari FFs headed into the Dolomites with ski racks on top next year. Aspen, Vail, Lake Tahoe — prepare to see your first Ferraris out and about in the dead of winter on a sloppy day.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.
Used 2012 Ferrari FF Overview
The Used 2012 Ferrari FF is offered in the following submodels: FF Coupe. Available styles include 2dr Coupe AWD (6.3L 12cyl 7AM).
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Ferrari FF?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.