March 3, 2011
When you think “all-wheel drive hatchback,” you probably think of the Subaru Impreza, or maybe the Audi A3. You might even conjure up images of the Dodge Caliber, or Toyota’s now-defunct Matrix. But as of today, there’s a new all-wheel drive hatch on the market: the Ferrari FF.
Shown for the first time at the Geneva Auto Show, many are calling the FF a “shooting brake” – a term which originated among British luxury cars with extra storage space for hunting rifles. While the FF fits the definition, we know the FF’s design as a hatchback – and it has the storage space to prove it. Ferrari says the car can easily swallow four people plus luggage, noting that it has a larger interior and more storage space than any car in its class.
A hatchback bodystyle isn’t the FF’s only Ferrari first. Maranello’s newest model is named “FF” for “Ferrari Four,” alluding to the automaker’s first-ever deviation from rear-wheel drive: a standard all-wheel drive system called 4RM. Ferrari says 4RM maintains perfect weight distribution in all weather conditions and over any terrain, while weighing in around 50 percent less than a conventional four-wheel drive system.
Under the hood, the FF is pure old-school Ferrari. Still yet to adopt eco-friendly hybrid or electric powertrain technology, Ferrari gave the FF an all-new, monstrous 6.3-liter V12 producing 651 horsepower and 504 pound-feet of torque. Best of all, the new engine is mated to the automaker’s lightning quick dual-clutch F1 transmission, leading to a claimed 0-to-60 time of just 3.7 seconds.
The FF will replace Ferrari’s prior four-seat grand tourer, the 612 Scaglietti, which debuted in 2005. The Scaglietti’s proportions were often maligned by Ferrari enthusiasts, who complained about the exotic’s excessively long hood and abrupt rear end. While the 612 Scaglietti’s styling may have been unconventional, the FF is an even bigger departure from the norm – and the automaker’s next challenge is getting its notoriously traditionalistic followers to accept an all-wheel drive hatchback.
JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.