Ferrari is developing a part-time four-wheel-drive system, which could be used on front-engined models, such as the 612 Scaglietti and forthcoming V12-powered 600, as well as the Maserati Quattroporte and Coupé. The set-up also combines all-wheel drive and a transaxle layout for the first time.
Revealed in this patent drawing (right), the new system is exceptionally compact and simpler than rival 4x4 systems based on a rear-drive layout. A constant velocity joint and oil bath clutch - which sends drive to the front wheels - are encased on the end of the engine block.
However, the system will not be full-time but instead will act as sophisticated traction control in poor conditions.
In third gear — when the car is most likely to skid — drive is sent to the front wheels when sensors detect a slide. In higher gears, the system is limited to 20-30-second bursts of 4x4 traction to stop overheating. A launch date has not yet been revealed.Paddy Granger