Need for speed

Need for speed

The word Ferrari evokes images of a snarling sports car sliding through the corners of a twisty road the way only a rear-wheel-drive car can, leaving acrid blue tyre smoke in its wake.

In fact, you could compare driving a big-engined Ferrari for the first time to trying to make friends with a Rottweiler. It’s quick, it’s aggressive, and there’s every probability that it might bite you—especially while going hard around that tricky corner.

The FF is the first production four-wheel drive (4WD) from Maranello. Ferrari has long been refusing to adopt 4WD but has finally introduced a car “that owners can also drive to their ski chalets in winter" or—to put that in a more local perspective—a Ferrari that you can drive up to Shimla after it has snowed. But since Ferrari loves to stand apart, the FF still feels and corners like a thoroughbred rear-wheel-drive Ferrari. This is thanks to the 4RM—a four-wheel-drive system engineered and patented by Ferrari (read 4RM: Putting the 4 in the FF).

Getting behind the wheel I instantly appreciated the seating comfort and driving position. There was no cramped Great-Dane-in-the-dicky-of-a-hatchback kind of feel. The cabin is splashed with plush leather. The carbon-fibre steering wheel with all its buttons and Manettino knob looks very Formula One though the position of the horn and turn indicators takes getting used to.

The three of us settled in pretty comfortably with no complains about leg room from the rear passenger.

And this is with the Manettino set to “COMFORT". Turn the knob to “SPORT" and this potent cocktail of petrol and power turns headier with even more rapid acceleration.

This is probably the first Ferrari that ticks the family practicality checkbox. With its boot-size and rear legroom, this car can go much beyond the romantic long drive. Rather, it would make for a fabulous weekend driving trip with a group of four.

To buy the FF in India, visit www.newdelhi.ferraridealers.com

BOX | 4RM: Putting the 4 in the FF

Conventional four-wheel-drive systems have a centre-mounted differential that distributes power to both the front and the rear axle. The Ferrari FF instead features a seven-speed, twin-clutch gearbox mounted on a rear transaxle—much like the driveline of a conventional rear-wheel-drive supercar. Under normal driving conditions, power from the engine is fed straight to this gearbox, which sends it to the rear wheels, giving the driver that heady feel of a rear-wheel-drive thoroughbred sports car.

There is, however, another gearbox running off the front of the crankshaft. This gearbox has only two forward gears and a reverse gear. The ratios of the two forward gears within are slightly higher than the second and fourth gears of the gearbox mounted on the rear transaxle. The front gearbox has two Haldex-type clutches—one for each of the front wheels. So, when the software in the car senses a situation that calls for traction to be sent to the front wheels, power is taken straight from the engine and fed into the front gearbox. Since neither of the two front-gear ratios matches any of those in the rear gearbox, there would be a front and rear wheel-speed mismatch. This mismatch is done away with by slipping the Haldex-type clutches. The clutches also act like a virtual front differential, sending the right amount of drive to the front wheels to enhance handling.

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