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Automotive Traveler Magazine: 2011 01 2012 Ferrari FF Page 1

Sneak Peek: 2012 Ferrari FF

The replacement for the 612 Scaglietti serves up two firsts for Maranello: its first road car with four-wheel-drive and its first shooting break. Beyond being an exceptional grand tourer, reports Richard Truesdell, it's the world's ultimate grocery getter.

This morning in Maranello, Ferrari revealed the first official photographs of the new FF--almost six weeks in advance of its unveiling at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The vehicle, which we present here and in our Image Gallery with the first three photos from a dedicated shoot by Giovanni Gastel, is the storied automaker's first-ever four-wheel-drive car.

The FF--an acronym for Ferrari Four (four seats and four-wheel-drive)--ushers in an entirely new GT sports car concept. A decisive break with the past, the new car represents, in the words of Ferrari, "not so much an evolution as a true revolution."

Designed by Pininfarina, this new V12 melds an extremely sporty, high-performance character with incredible versatility, superb comfort, and sophisticated elegance.

It also gives Ferrari a model to compete with such true four-seat coupes as the Aston Martin Rapide and the Bentley Continental GT/GTC (in addition to models coming from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche), while stopping short of offering four doors.

With its "shooting break" styling, the new FF offers a degree of practicality unprecedented in Ferrari's history--as if practicality is important to buyers spending upwards of $400,000 for what will arguably be the world's most desirable four-seat grand tourer.

Ferrari's exclusive, patented 4RM (four-wheel drive) weighs 50 percent less than a conventional four-wheel-drive system, maintaining perfect weight distribution (53 percent over the rear axle).

Completely integrated with the car's electronic dynamic control systems, the four-wheel-drive technology delivers record levels of performance on all terrain and in all conditions via continuous and intelligent predictive torque distribution to all four wheels.

The FF is also equipped with the latest magneto-rheological damping system (SCM3), as well as the most recent development in carbon-ceramic brakes from Brembo.

Exceptional performance levels come courtesy of the new 6,262 c.c. direct-injection engine, which develops 660 CV at 8,000 r.p.m. In tandem with its transaxle dual-clutch F1 gearbox, the company guarantees breathtaking acceleration figures of 0-100 k.p.h. in 3.7 seconds.

The new model's class-leading weight-to-power ratio of 2.7 kg./CV, along with its ideal weight distribution, ensures exceptionally responsive driver handling.

The result is that owners will be able to enjoy the FF's prowess over a wide range of uses: city driving, on low grip or snow-covered surfaces, and on the track.

Performance aside, Maranello's latest model also offers standards of passenger space, comfort, in-car specs, and equipment previously unheard of in such a high-performance car. It can comfortably accommodate four people and their luggage, thanks to the best cabin-space and boot-capacity figures (450 liters extendable to 800) in its category, including four-door cars.

Among the personalization options are six model-specific exterior colors and interior trim incorporating custom selected and treated aniline leather.

The FF is expected to be the flagship for the Ferrari marque. With the outgoing rear-wheel-drive 612 Scaglietti model the FF will replace currently selling for 272,000 euros (about $365,000) in its home market of Italy, I expect the FF to sell for well over 300,000 euros ($390,000).

The first customer deliveries are expected to commence in Europe in the spring, according to Automotive News Europe, with the first FF sales in North America expected in the fall.