The 4RM is an entirely new system that transmits torque to all four wheels of the car. A Ferrari patent, it is the main innovation sported by the new FF. Unlike a conventional four-wheel drive system fitted to a front-engined car, it allows the retention of the traditional mid-front engine architecture, with rear transaxle connected to the engine by a single driveshaft. Added to this is the new Power Transfer Unit or PTU for the front wheels, which is connected directly to the engine and located over the front axle.
This layout permits:
- a 50% saving in weight compared to a traditional four-wheel drive system. This greatly benefits the FF's weight-to-power ratio and thus its performance;
- a low centre of gravity to be maintained and the retention of Ferrari's sports car weight distribution with more than 50% of weight over the rear axle despite it being a front-engined car.
The PTU is the main mechanical component of the 4RM and manages the difference between the engine and wheel speeds. It also controls the amount of torque sent to the front wheels in general and distributes it between left and right as required. The PTU gets its power and torque directly from the crankshaft through a system of gearbox ratios. Two independent carbon-fibre oil-bath wet multi-plate clutch packs then vector the torque to a half-shaft connected to each front wheel. Thus, there is no mechanical connection between rear and front axles as they are linked to two completely independent traction systems. This means the FF can be rear-wheel drive-only so that none of the exhilarating driving pleasure associated with this kind of car is lost.
Lastly, the multi-disc clutches also deal with the different speeds of rotation between the front and rear axles, and between the individual front wheels, fulfilling the function of the centre and front differentials in a traditional 4WD system. Furthermore, the front clutches are completely independent and have torque vectoring functions to allow different amounts of torque to be sent to the left and right wheels. The amount of torque transmitted is controlled by closing the disc packs in the individual clutches. The PTU is also very compact (barely 170 mm long) and extremely light with the result that the 4RM weighs 50% less than a conventional 4WD system.
The hydraulic gear and clutch actuation system is integrated into the PTU, as with the F1 Dual Clutch gearbox, and this delivers absolutely blistering gear-shifting times and thus improved system responsiveness.
Dynamic vehicle control is managed first and foremost by the Evolved GT Manettino on the F1-derived steering wheel. It has five settings: ESC OFF, which disables all traction and stability control systems; SPORT, to enhance driving pleasure in high grip situations; COMFORT, for maximum stability and easy of use in high grip situations; WET and ICE-SNOW, with electronic controls specifically calibrated for maximum stability and ease of use in low and very low grip conditions.
The Evolved GT Manettino also controls the SCM3, the third generation of the Ferrari Magnetorheological Suspension System. The latter uses a fluid the viscosity of which is altered by an electronically-controlled magnetic field generated inside the damper. Control software adjusts the intensity of the magnetic field every millisecond. Thanks to the SCM3, damping is now five times faster than with conventional shock absorbers. The FF also has ABS/EBD, the anti-lock braking system which intervenes individually on all four wheels. The ESC (Electronic Stability Control) also intervenes during braking on all four wheels independently. The E-Diff, on the other hand, distributes torque to both of the rear wheels while the race-derived F1-Trac traction control system manages the torque to the rear axle. Lastly, the 4RM Control integrates the F1 Trac + E-Diff + PTU control functions, and manages both traction and stability by distributing exactly the right amount of torque to each of the four wheels, thanks to seamless integration of all the systems. The predictive software logic that underpins the 4RM Control estimates grip. For the first time on the FF, it covers all possible driving conditions from ice to dry track surfaces. Grip estimation was first used in motor racing and then developed for road cars. It also underpins the F1-Trac system and allows the FF to instantly and accurately estimate the maximum amount of torque that each wheel can transmit to the road without wheel spin occurring. What this means in practice is that 4RM Control always guarantees maximum traction regardless of the road conditions, because it independently distributes the maximum amount of torque that can be transmitted to each individual wheel.
The 4RM Control works on the principle that torque is only sent to the front axle when absolutely necessary i.e. when the driver needs more torque than the rear axle can deliver in a given grip situation. When the driver requires less torque than the maximum amount transferable by the rear wheels in a specific grip condition, then traction is controlled by the F1-Trac but on the rear wheels only. The E-Diff then works to ensure the optimal distribution of the torque to the rear wheels in the various situations that can arise, such as a partial locking of the differential coming out of bends (as is already the case with the 458 Italia). When the driver needs more torque than the rear axle can deliver, the extra torque is transferred by the 4RM Control to the front axle via the PTU. The 4RM Control actually distributes the torque completely independently to the front right and left wheels.
This means that drive only goes to the front wheels when the FF's weight distribution combined with the F1-Trac and E-Diff controls alone aren't enough to transfer the amount of torque required by the driver to the road, i.e. in all low and very low grip conditions in which the driver still demands performance driving from the car. The 4RM Control features multiple logics specifically developed for the various low and very low grip conditions the FF may be faced with.
When accelerating out of bends in low grip conditions, the F1-Trac, E-Diff and PTU work together to distribute maximum torque to each individual wheel for optimum performance. However, torque is transmitted to the front wheels only in a balanced, progressive way to guarantee maximum stability.
The system can also recognise under- and oversteer situations and variations in grip. It instantly corrects them by modifying the amount of torque transmitted to each wheel. Once again, this guarantees maximum stability.
The 4RM Control also has a specific high-performance start logic optimised for low and very low grip surfaces integrated into the Performance Launch feature active in all Manettino positions. This recognises the amount of grip available to each individual wheel and then sends the maximum amount of torque it can to the road without causing wheel spin. The result is that the car can achieve smooth maximum longitudinal acceleration in all grip conditions without wheel spin. This is very different to conventional 4WD systems in which wheel spin during standing starts is controlled by the ASR and/or by locking the differentials.
Thus, the 4RM Control redistributes torque to the wheels but doesn't act as a brake as it does with systems used by our competitors. The result is that performance is still optimised in all grip conditions and traction is maximised to the benefit of longitudinal acceleration. This translates into improved stability, handling and control on the limit as well as superb high-performance starts from a standstill even on snow-covered inclines.
Braking is perfectly controlled too, by the Ferrari Pre-Fill logic which activates the pistons in the calipers when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator pedal, helping to reduce response times. The result: shorter stopping distances, better pedal feel, less drag and lower fuel consumption. The FF's new suspension features traditional double wishbones at the front (with lower L arm) and a redesigned multi-link system at the rear. This boosts transverse and vertical rigidity by 20 per cent. It also enhances handling and that sporty driving feeling, thanks to extremely fast response times, a more direct steering ratio (-20 per cent) and absolutely minimal body roll. Longitudinal flexibility has been tripled too, resulting in lower suspension noise and even more efficient absorption of bumps and asperities.
The FF is also the first car in the Ferrari range to sport third generation Brembo carbon-ceramic material (CCM) brakes. The principal innovation here is the new material used for the pads which has allowed disc dimensions to be reduced by 10 per cent, despite the fact that braking performance has not just been maintained, but improved upon. This is courtesy of a higher and more stable coefficient of friction between caliper and disc, and greater stress-resistance. All of this translates into lighter weight with the same impressive, fade-free performance, lower maintenance costs, and shorter stopping distances. The brake pads now also last seven to eight times longer than those of the previous generation which means that they will probably never need to be replaced in the car's lifetime under normal conditions.
Make no mistake about it, the FF has the DNA of a thoroughbred Ferrari. It is not only sporty in the extreme, but also comfortable and easy to drive. It brings a wealth of technology to the mix, starting with a completely new mid-front-mounted 6,262 cc GDI V12 that delivers unprecedented performance and responsiveness at all engine speeds: 660 CV at 8,000 rpm, a specific output of 105 CV/l (77 kW/ cu in), a weight-power ratio of 2.7 kg/CV. The torque is also blistering: 683 Nm at 6, 000 rpm, with over 500 Nm available from 1,000 rpm up to 8,000 rpm (virtually across the entire range), guaranteeing unparalleled flexibility. The FF has a top speed of 335 km/h and sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds.
Those impressive figures are the result of a host of technical solutions which include high pressure GDI (200 bar) and Split Injection Control that guarantee perfect fuel pulverisation and an optimal air-fuel mix up to 8,000 rpm. The FF also has the highest compression ratio (12.3:1) in its segment and a reed valve scavenge system that reduces losses due to windage caused by the pumping action of the pistons. Leading-edge materials have been adopted for the pistons, piston rings and camshaft to minimise friction. The FF has a combustion control system that uses ionisation currents – this boosts the engine's power output whilst reducing both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to levels previously unheard of in a car with these characteristics.
This impressive result is attributable to a whole series of factors affecting every area of the car. They include the introduction of the HELE (High Emotions-Low Emissions) system -with Stop&Start, which cuts out the engine during short stops and then restarts it in 230 ms - which includes optimised gear shift pattern, intelligent engine fan control, constant fuel pump capacity control, and electronic air-conditioning compressor displacement control. All of these solutions combine to cut fuel consumption to just 15.4 litres per 100 km and CO2 emissions to 360 g/km, a 25 per cent reduction on the previous Ferrari V12s.
The engine's geometries and materials were also developed to harmonise intake and exhaust sounds to underscore the car's extremely sporty character without impinging on acoustic comfort. To the ears of the driver and passengers, the FF's engine sound is seductively clear and powerful because the intake noise is channelled from the filter casings into the cabin. The Ferrari orchestra playing in this V12 never misses a note regardless of speed or conditions. It is also designed to ensure that anyone who hears an FF go by will instantly recognise its unmistakable Ferrari sound without finding it loud. This isn't noise: it's music to the ears.
Transmission and vehicle dynamics
The FF delivers exhilarating Prancing Horse driving pleasure as it effortlessly copes with low grip surfaces, handles beautifully in all kinds of conditions, and delivers superb high-performance starts from a standstill even on the slipperiest, snowiest and iciest of surfaces. The coupling of its powerful V12 with the Ferrari F1 seven-speed dual clutch gearbox make it a joy to drive. Owners will be able to experience its power and sophistication on all kinds of terrain and conditions too, courtesy of Ferrari's patented new lightweight 4RM (four-wheel drive).
The F1 dual-clutch gearbox combines the unadulterated driving pleasure of a sequential gearbox with the comfort of an automatic one. Gear-shifting times have been cut to zero and the drop-off in acceleration typically experienced with manual and electrohydraulic gearboxes has been completely eliminated. The E-Diff is now integrated into the gearbox casing itself, a solution that has helped reduce the car's overall weight. Ferrari's first ever four-wheel drive system actually shares a CPU with the E-Diff and F1-Trac. This fact, combined with instantaneous grip estimation on any kind of surface, guarantees perfect driveability and handling even when conditions are so poor that the rear-wheel drive can no longer send enough power to the road. This is the kind of situation drivers typically find themselves faced with on extremely slippery icy or snow-covered surfaces.
Even the FFs' cabin exudes a unique allure. It is extremely comfortable and enticing with elegant, sophisticated trim and detailing, creating an impression of subtle exclusivity. The FF has the best cabin space and occupant comfort in the segment, thanks to four generous body-hugging seats that ensure each of the FF's four occupants will enjoy the same standards of ride comfort and access to the on-board equipment. The boot size is unprecedented for this kind of car: 450 litres. However, it is also extremely versatile as both rear seats can fold down separately, upping its volume to over 800 litres. This means, for example, that four occupants can take four standard-size trolley cases, two golf bags or two children's strollers with them. The central section of the rear seat can also be folded down to accommodate particularly bulky items such as a large golf bag or two pairs of skis. In other words, four people can go away in the FF for a long weekend break in complete comfort. By simply folding down one or both of the rear seats, however, luggage space and versatility increases and two occupants could easily enjoy a month-long road trip in the car. In its two-seater configuration, the FF can be used to stow any kind of hobby or leisure activity equipment imaginable, including two full sets of diving gear or sailing kits, for instance. This really is the most accommodating car one could desire – the front seats comfortably accommodate taller occupants up to and over 1.95 cm (just under 6 ft 4.7 in.) and up to 185 cm (6 ft 1 in.) in the rear. And they'll be as comfortable as in their own lounge. The big difference being, of course, that sitting in a comfortable chair beside a roaring fire, they won't be able to power along at up to 335 km/h. The FF is a car that makes driver and passengers alike feel very much at home. Its cabin also includes no less than 20 litres of smaller storage compartments for the kinds of odds and ends occupants might like to bring with them on longer trips. There is dual-zone climate control too for added comfort, and all four occupants have a generous number of independently adjustable air vents at their disposal. For the first time the front seat passenger will also be intensely involved in the driving experience as a new front emotion display screen can be ordered as an optional extra. Like the instrument panel, this shows the car's speed, rpm and gear as well as journey travel time and mileage, average speed, top speed reached, and Manettino setting selected. If ordered, the display is fitted into an enclosed section with a USB connection that can be used to charge smart phones or connect their own multimedia devices to the onboard infotainment system.
There are also plenty of entertainment features that can be ordered as optionals to keep rear seat passengers amused on long journeys. The rear seat infotainment system has remote control, two sets of cordless headphones, a 6-DVD player, a digital terrestrial TV tuner and audio/video input for multimedia devices. Owners may also upgrade from the already excellent standard onboard stereo system which has a 640 watt 9-channel amp to a truly spectacular system with a high efficiency 1,280 watt 16-channel stereo system with QuantumLogic® Surround Sound. The independent, high-containment seats easily accommodate four adults, all of whom enjoy the same space and comfort features. The front seats are electric and can be adjusted to adapt to differing body sizes and driving conditions using the electrohydraulic side and lumbar controls and memory settings. They can also be heated or ventilated (each to three levels).
Once behind the wheel, the driver will feel instantly at one with his or her car. Years of research by Maranello's engineers, Ferrari's track experience and on-going dialogue with its F1 drivers who have driven the cars to victory around the world have enabled the company to hone each individual detail and refine every area of ergonomics to ensure that the driver remains perfectly at ease regardless of whether he is simply out for a relaxing Sunday spin, or clocking up the laps on the track. This is what Ferrari calls the Man-Machine Interface, the effortless melding of man and car. Every single control and all the car's main functional data are instantly to eye and hand at all times and in all conditions. In fact, because they are ergonomically positioned on the steering wheel, the main controls feel like a natural extension of the driver's hands, obviating the need to lift his or her hands off the rim when shifting gears or when making any other adjustment to the car's systems. Aside from the Manettino, which offers a choice of five different vehicle dynamics settings, the steering wheel also features the engine Start button, indicators, the two F1 gear-shifting paddles (Up and Down), the suspension decoupling button to decouple shock absorber settings from the other manettino configurations for softer damping on uneven surfaces, and windscreen wiper controls.
The new instrument panel features the traditional rev counter, which also tells the driver what gear the car is in, set between two high-resolution 5” displays. The left-hand display lists the main vehicle status data as well as VDA (Vehicle Dynamic Assistance) output which shows the controls active in any given Manettino setting. Trip computer and parking sensor information are also featured. The right-hand display shows the speedometer (a choice of analogue or digital readout), the main infotainment data and images from the front and rear parking cameras. There satellite pod to the left of the steering wheel manages the on-board instrument panel, itself located directly in front of the driver. The centre console houses the F1 panel and its dynamic controls: the Launch Control button which sends maximum torque to the ground for spin-free, high-performance starts in all conditions, including snow and ice; reverse, and the Auto button to put the gearbox in automatic. The FF's new infotainment system is the result of an evolution of the Man-Machine Interface. It features: a 6.5”, high-contrast display with touch screen control; a Bluetooth connection with Audio Streaming, to allow occupants to wirelessly listen to music from their own multimedia devices; a sat nav with maps and 3D views; voice command function; two USB connections; and a display with alphanumeric keypad for phone dialling. It is also fully compatible with new-generation iPods and iPhones. The main functions are available either at the touch of a fingertip or through voice commands: drivers can simply order the system to make a telephone call or select a predetermined road route. The display graphics have been completely redesigned to make them user- and reader-friendly. All of which makes the FF feel very much like home. Except a little faster, of course…Just a little.