This is probably the most sensible Ferrari you can buy, with its roomy cabin and big doors, its snug but useable rear seats and its long-wheelbase chassis built for stability and bristling with sophisticated electronics, plus, when needed, that four-wheel drive system. Our own tests have already shown the combination confers on the FF all the high and low-speed traction a supercar needs, even when powered by a 651bhp 6.3-litre V12 and endowed with huge performance (for the record, 0-62mph in 3.7sec and a top speed of 210mph).
Ferraris and four seats have never had a massive take-up, not least in the UK. When the Ferrari FF was launched in 2011 by company CEO Amedeo Felisa, its production target was given as 800 units a year worldwide, which (given that the UK regularly takes about 10% of total Ferrari volume) indicates that only about half a dozen FFs a month find new owners in the UK. So it’s a rare car.
Still, the thread of our enquiry over the next few months won’t primarily be about the spectacular side of Ferrari driving, ever available though that is. The idea is to take this extraordinary machine and apply it to ordinary motoring situations, to discover what living with a Ferrari V12 is really like. Ferrari’s steady contention is that the car works well in a wide variety of situations, which is why it is allowing a car priced at just over £300,000 a couple of years ago (and able to command about £180,000 today) outof its sight for more than a few days.
The Maranello dealership is located in a recently restored art deco showroom on the Egham bypass, well known to generations of visitors because it was once the lair from which the Colonel Ronnie Hoare, the UK’s legendary Ferrari importer (reputed to have a direct line to Enzo himself) ran his business for several generations.
Nowadays it has all the modern facilities, including a close replica of the famous atelier at Ferrari’s Italian HQ, where buyers can sit for as long as they want, reviewing their new Ferrari’s specifications, options, colours, leathers and trim materials and configuring them on a big screen that can combine them. But in a sense, such facilities are expected by luxury car buyers.
More surprising is the remarkable deal Ferrari offers buyers of secondhand cars through its official dealerships. Choose a nearly new Ferrari and it’ll be covered by the balance of a standard three-year warranty that is extended by a year for free in the UK.
Even outside that, it’ll be covered by a two-year warranty. Beyond that, up to the 12th year of its life, it can be covered by a warranty Ferrari calls New Power Formula. This is run by Ferrari itself and not an insurance company, because its aim is to keep Ferraris on the road, not generate profits for shareholders.
Oh, and just like every Ferrari ever built, your used car qualifies for free roadside assistance, even if it’s covered by neither a new-car warranty nor New Power. The company insists it isn’t trying to suggest that Ferrari ownership is cheap, but it is absolutely passionate about removing perceived risks, and it shows. Eventually, weighed down with information, glossy brochures and some superb illustrations of our car, we drove the red FF away into its new ownership.
First impressions? As good as you’d think. The cabin is roomy, the seats inviting and supportive and the driving position satisfyingly ‘front-engined Ferrari’, with a high, near vertically set wheel, over which you sight down an exotically sculpted bonnet. The V12 barks into life in a way that turns heads, but after you’ve squeezed the right-hand paddle to select a gear, the accurate accelerator allows you to glide smoothly into traffic while conveying the promise of big action when its ample travel is more extravagantly used. Much more on that, very soon.
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