Trick question! You do both — if, that is, you have an all-wheel-drive four-seat Ferrari FF. Which you probably don’t, because the FF’s base price is $302,450. And you’ll never see one that cheap, because buying a Ferrari with no options is like building a Hamptons dream house without the outdoor kitchen.
Come on, man. Don’t be a skinflint.
Three hundred grand is a lot of money, but look at it this way: thanks to the 2012 FF’s beguiling mix of pedigreed performance and down-to-earth practicality, you can sell your fair-weather 458 Italia and your winter-beater Porsche Panamera Turbo S and just drive this.
Honey, according to my numbers, it makes solid financial sense to buy a Ferrari FF.
The FF’s mandate is to meld the performance of a Ferrari supercar with the four-season utility of an all-wheel-drive luxury wagon. Thus the hatchback body, which identifies the FF with a once-popular class of sporting wagon known as the shooting brake.
Under the hood lies the most powerful engine ever installed in a road-going Ferrari, a 6.3-liter V-12 that belts out 651 horsepower at 8,000 r.p.m. There is a passenger-side speedometer that you may dub the nag-ometer depending on who’s riding in the passenger seat. With the transmission in automatic mode, the FF is a serene daily driver. One that can, when asked, race from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds.
One morning, I employed the FF’s heroic power plant on a preschool run, my 2-year-old strapped into a car seat in the back. The FF was very likely the only vehicle in the school parking lot that day with a quoted top speed of 208 m.p.h. Does FF stand for “family fun”?
Actually FF stands for “Ferrari four,” a reference to the four seats and four-wheel drive. Which is actually all-wheel drive, under the usual definition, at least up until about 130 m.p.h., when it becomes rear-wheel drive. The power distribution gets quite complicated, but if you like transmissions you’ll love the FF, because it has two of them.
Like the 458 Italia, the FF’s electronic aggressiveness is controlled via the manettino, a small red switch on the steering wheel. Unlike the 458, the FF’s manettino has no race mode. Which is too bad, because on the 458, “race” sets the active exhaust to its most vocal setting, and you want to hear the FF’s song as often as possible. Conventional V-12 engines are renowned for soothing, buttery power, but the FF’s flat-plane crankshaft imbues the exhaust note with a hard-edge malevolent bark. If the FF’s 12 pistons were a jury, they’d never reach a verdict.
To its everlasting credit, Ferrari programs its engine-management electronics to let you rev the engine in neutral. This sounds juvenile and pointless but is something you find yourself doing surprisingly often, possibly in the garage while your children are napping inside the house. Were napping, that is.
To better enjoy the V12’s comely song, I drove around with the windows down most of the time. Which meant I couldn’t really hear the stereo, and that was all right, because the FF uses the same stereo and navigation system that you find in a Jeep Wrangler (an odd bit of corporate synergy from a fellow Fiat brand).
Of course, nobody buys a Ferrari for the stereo, but maybe someone at Bang Olufsen or McIntosh needs to make a cold call to Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy. Until then, I’m sure you have the option to just cover the thing with a nice piece of leather.
I get the impression that anything in the FF can be covered in leather, possibly including the inside of the windshield. (Just leave me a small portal, Signore Schedoni.) The car I drove had a leather headliner and smelled like a winning lottery ticket. Which, if you’re wondering, smells like the inside of a Ferragamo store.
That leather ceiling was but one option on a dauntingly vast list. This particular FF in Grigio Abu Dhabi paint (what the peons call “silver”) was stocked with $74,891 in options, bringing the tab to $377,431. That works out to less than $100,000 per passenger, since the FF can actually seat four adults.