The arrival of the Ferrari FF marked the return of the shooting brake, a configuration largely forgotten but now gaining in popularity among premium manufacturers.

The colossal, naturally aspirated engine under the bonnet is a direct-injection descendant of the V12 that featured in the Enzo, but Ferrari’s first production all-wheel drive system is an altogether more novel solution.

The V12 is a descendent of the engine from the Enzo

When required by the front wheels, power is fed directly from the crank into a second, smaller gearbox located beneath the engine.

Unlike a conventional all-wheel drive transmission, there is no centre differential in the FF. Instead, for the majority of the time, the FF is effectively a regular rear-wheel-drive Ferrari, with the power directed to the back wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Only when drive is required at the front axle is power taken directly from the engine into a second gearbox. The fascinating aspect is that neither of the two front ratios are a match for those in the rear gearbox. The wheel speed mismatch is then managed by slipping two clutches in the forward gearbox.

These clutches also provide the role of the front differential, not only to manage traction but also to provide torque vectoring for improved handling. Apparently the slipping clutches don’t overheat, because in practice drive is delivered to the front axle only for short periods.

The main benefit of the system is that it offers all-wheel-drive traction (you’ll doubtless have seen video footage of the FF ploughing through snow) without the normal weight penalty.

Ferrari claims it adds just 45kg and, with no front differential, steering feel corruption is reputedly minimised.

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