Ferrari has revealed its first ever four-wheel-drive in the form of the radical FF, or Ferrari Four.
Ferrari has revealed its first ever four-wheel-drive in the form of the radical FF, or Ferrari Four. Drive

Ferrari launch maiden 4WD

Ferrari has revealed its first ever four-wheel-drive in the form of the radical FF, or Ferrari Four.

Already more than 10 Australians have ordered the four-seat FF that's expected to leave little change from $900,000 and bring newfound practicality and everyday usability to a brand known for building some of the fastest, most stylish cars in the world.

While not designed to trudge through the outback or traverse swollen creeks, the new Ferrari FF is an enormous departure from Ferraris of the past and represents the brand's desire to venture beyond its heritage that has revolved around powerful rear-drive sports cars - mostly red and often not particularly practical.

The latest Ferrari - another that has been designed by Italian design house Pininfarina - also comfortably seats four people, according to the PR blurb accompanying the release of three pictures showing each angle of the hump-backed two-door. At 4907mm long it is fractionally longer than a Holden Commodore.

To replace the 612 Scaglietti as the largest, heaviest, most powerful and most expensive model in the exclusive Ferrari range, the new FF is claimed to be "a decisive break with the past".

"The new car represents not so much an evolution as a true revolution," claims the Ferrari press release.

The odd-shaped rear-end - reminiscent of the bulbous rump on BMW's Z3 coupe that was nicknamed the "breadvan" - is said to provide much more headroom for rear seat passengers.

The Ferrari FF is expected to cater to wealthy owners who want to use their Ferrari more frequently.

"What has become very clear over the past decade or so is that Ferrari owners want to be able to use their cars over a much wider range of conditions so it's not a car you just take out once a week," says Edward Rowe, the public relations manager for local Ferrari importer European Automotive Imports.

"They want to be able to use it more often. This car with the combination of the space, flexibility and 4WD system means it is just as happy doing a track day as it is going on a skiing holiday to the snowy mountains."

Powered by a V12 engine with 485kW of power the new FF can launch from a standstill to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 335km/h.

However, Ferrari is also working on a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain for various models, showing off the technology in the Ferrari Hy-KERS concept car shown in 2010.

The Ferrari FF's four-wheel-drive underpinnings indicate the platform is ready to take a hybrid system where the front wheels would use electric power in cities and rear drive would be traditional Ferrari petrol performance.

It seems logical to expect a hybrid version of the Ferrari FF before long.

As with current Ferraris it's expected to come with technology gleaned from the brand's involvement in Formula One.

"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.

Ferrari says the FF's four-wheel-drive system "weighs 50 per cent less than a conventional four-wheel-drive system", aiding fuel economy and weight distribution.

The FF has 53 per cent of its 1790kg dry weight (the actual figure will be higher once fluids are added) over the rear wheels and the remaining 47 per cent over the front.

However, while it's more economical than the 612 Scaglietti it will replace, the Ferrari FF still uses a claimed average 15.4 litres of fuel per 100km, making it thirstier than many less powerful (and slower) V8s.

While Ferrari is not talking pricing of the new FF, which will arrive here by the end of 2011, it's not expected to leave much change from $900,000 as the most expensive model in the three-model line-up.

Owners will also no doubt load it with often expensive options, with Ferrari confirming it has developed a "vast array of personalisation options and accessories".

Already Ferrari is holding more than 10 local orders for what will become one of the most exclusive - and expensive - cars on Australian roads.

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