There are two reasons that the FF's four-wheel drive, dubbed 4RM by Ferrari, handles more like a rear-wheel drive. The first is that for much of the time that you'll be driving it, the FF is running with rear-wheel drive alone. The on-board computer in charge of the FF's predictive torque distribution detects when the front wheels are starting to slip and only then starts routing power to anywhere but the rear wheels. The second reason is that the drive train uses dual transmissions and dual driveshafts of a type developed by Ferrari for earlier models, with a two-gear transmission pulling power off the front end of the engine and transmitting power to the front wheels while a seven-gear transmission relays power to the rear wheels. The lower gear of the front transmission corresponds to the first two gears on the rear transmission, the second gear to the third and fourth gears of the rear transmission, with the rear transmission solely in charge at higher gears. This allows Ferrari to make the four-wheel drive system unusually light -- about half the weight of a typical four-wheel drive system. Superior weight distribution helps the FF to hug the road, with the huge motor in the front balanced out by the large trunk area.
The FF's 6.3-liter, direct-injection V-12 engine is up to the job of accelerating this surprisingly lightweight vehicle. It generates 504 pound-feet (683.3 newton-meters) of torque and 651 horsepower, which in some neighborhoods would qualify it for supercar status. The FF uses a magnetorheological damping system in its shock absorbers, allowing the damping characteristics of the shocks to be altered via a computer-controlled magnetic field, so that the shocks can respond to changing road conditions. Ferrari's HELE (high-emotion, low-emission) technology, borrowed from the Ferrari California, removes carbon dioxide emissions, helping the FF meet ever more stringent federal and local emissions regulations.
All in all, the Ferrari FF is an impressive piece of design and engineering. Ferrari fans need not worry that the Italian carmaker has sold out its sports car heritage in a campaign to attract the family market. In fact, it appears they've done a clever job of having their cake and eating it too.
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