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First look: Ferrari’s next flagship a radical departure

All-change: Ferrari’s next-generation grand tourer will score an all-new V12 and all-wheel drive.

Spectacular change of direction for Ferrari as AWD replacement for 612 emerges

21 Jan 2011

FERRARI will make a radical change of direction with the replacement for its current grand touring flagship, the 612 Scaglietti, as evidenced by first official images and details of the Ferrari Four – the company’s most powerful four-seater ever.

Due to make its world debut at the Geneva motor show March 1, the 612 successor’s ‘FF’ nameplate designates its ground-breaking use of an all-wheel-drive system underneath a surprising new bodyshell design that continues to accommodate seating for four.

Just as revolutionary as its four-wheel drivetrain, however, is all-new rear-end styling that comprises a roof-hinged tailgate more commonly seen on bargain-basement hatchbacks than top-end Italian supercars, and is therefore guaranteed to be met with controversy.

Ferrari says the Pininfarina-designed FF ushers in an entirely new GT sportscar concept that represents revolution rather than evolution and “a decisive break with the past”.

Australian Ferrari importer European Automotive Imports says the number of expressions of interest it has received for the FF is already into double figures. The number of vehicles to be allocated for Australia has not yet been confirmed, but EAI says that at this stage supply should satisfy demand.

First examples of the FF are expected to be delivered in Australia either late this year or early next, when it replace the 612 that tops Ferrari’s range at $698,000 – over $20,000 more than Ferrari’s top-shelf two-seater coupe, the 599 GTB ($677,250).

34 center imageTop: Ferrari 'FF'. Bottom: 612 Scaglietti.

While the FF’s game-changing exterior is expected to mark the beginning of a brand-new design language for the Prancing Horse brand, the surprise release of images is accompanied by a surprisingly extensive list of official technical specifications.

Ferrari says its first ever AWD system, dubbed 4RM (for four-wheel drive), weighs 50 per cent less than a conventional AWD system and provides for “perfect” weight distribution of 47/53 front/rear.

Exclusive to Ferrari, the patented 4RM system is integrated into the vehicle’s electronic dynamic control systems to deliver “record levels of performance on all terrains and in all conditions via continuous and intelligent predictive torque distribution to all four wheels”.

Working in tandem with 4RM is the company’s latest magnetorheological damping system (SCM3) and the newest carbon-ceramic brake technology from Brembo.

Under the FF’s long bonnet is a new direct-injection 6262cc V12 engine that officially delivers 485kW at 8000rpm and 683Nm at 6000rpm – up from the 397kW and 588Nm offered by the 612’s 5.8-litre V12.

Like the California and 458, the FF will come with a dual-clutch trans-axle dubbed F1, which combines with the more powerful new 65-degree V12 to deliver claimed 0-100km/h acceleration in just 3.7 seconds, making it one of the world’s quickest production cars.

Top speed is listed at 335km/h, while EU fuel consumption and CO2 emissions fall to 15.4L/100km and 360g/km respectively.

With a claimed dry weight of 1790kg – down marginally from the substantial 1849kg of the 612 – Ferrari says the FF delivers a “class-leading” weight-to-power ratio of 2.7kg per hp.

“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,” says Ferrari.

Other key new dimensions Ferrari has revealed for the four-seater FF include an overall length of 4907mm, a width of 1953mm and height of just 1379mm.

Ferrari says the FF will comfortable accommodate four people and their luggage thanks to cabin space and cargo capacity (which extends from 450 to 800 litres with the rear seats folded) that is claimed to better any other model in its class, including four-door GTs like the Porsche Panamera, Maserati Quattroporte and Mercedes-Benz CLS.

Six exclusive exterior paint colours will be available, along with an extensive range of customisation options and accessories for the specially treated aniline leather interior.

“This new V12 melds to an unprecedented level an extremely sporty, high-performance character with incredible versatility, superb comfort and sophisticated elegance, guaranteeing both driver and passengers an absolutely unique driving experience,” said Ferrari.

According to European reports, the 612 successor may also be offered with a turbocharged V8 engine, which could eventually be incorporated into a hybrid version.

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