The Starship Enterprise is perhaps the most iconic superstar machine of all time. I grew up watching it in the epic Star Trek show and till day am a huge fanboy of its magnificent though quirky looks, it's 31st-century technology and it's galaxy-hopping prowess. I always wondered if there was a car that would best describe this fictional character. Then I got to spend some time with a Ferrari FF and there was my answer.
What is the Ferrari FF?
The most practical car made by Ferrari!
The FF is Ferrari's previous generation 12 cylinder, 4 seater (yes a 4 seater Ferrari), all wheel drive Grand Tourer.
The engine is a 12 cylinder naturally aspirated monster that punches out 650 HP of power with about 700 NM of torque. It's mated to a 7 speed rapidly shifting dual clutch gearbox. It has a trick transmission system that is essentially rear wheel biased but it has a small 2 gear unit mounted in front of the engine that can transmit about 30% of the engine's power to the front wheels under low traction conditions.
Ferrari makes some of the most beautiful and desirable cars in the world. Their cars are like supermodels - sharp, chiseled and chic. The FF I think is one their most beautiful creations. The long swooping hood hiding the massive V12 engine and the razor-sharp L shaped front head lights are its signature design cues. The overall profile is a bit estate-like. A lot of Ferrari lovers hate it, but I seemed to like it. It's a bit quirky like it's metaphorical twin, the Starship Enterprise.
Inside it has 4 proper adult seats. The body shape is a 2 door coupe, so to access the rear seats you have to get in from the front door, but they are genuinely large seats that can comfortably seat 2 adults. I've done a 500 km trip in this car with 2 adults sitting in the back and they had the time of their lives.
The interiors are very very very special. This specific car had chocolate brown leather, with contrast yellow stitching and carbon fiber everywhere. The whole interior feels like you are sitting in a fighter jet. The seats are snug, the dash is fully digital with super cool displays, the steering feels like you are holding on to a race car and has these super cool series of led lights on its top section that light up as the revs climb, asking you to upshift. Then there are these two giant carbon fiber paddle shifters (fixed to the steering column) to change gears. I used to get goosebumps just getting into the car everytime. She certainly made me feel like Captain Kirk, ready to engage the Starship Enterprise
What's it like to drive a Ferrari for the first time in your life?
Ferrari is automotive royalty. It's the most desirable brand in any auto enthusiast's wish list. I have dreamt of sitting in one ever since I was a kid, so imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to spend a few days with a real, modern, V 12 Ferrari. I was overjoyed.
The first time I went for a drive in it, I was nervous and excited like I was on my first date (with my now lovely wife). I could not contain the excitement.
Step 1 - I unlock the car and get in. I adjust the seats to my comfort. Run my hands around the chunky and sporty steering wheel. I take a deep breath...for godsakes I am actually going to drive a Ferrari.
Step 2 - I turn the key and push the red "start engine" button on the steering wheel. The big V 12 comes to life with the most incredible sound I've ever heard. I wait for her to warm up just a bit and then rev her to 4-5 thousand rpm and the sound of the naturally aspirated engine engulfs the whole cabin. Trust me, if you like cars you should be willing to give up an arm and a leg just to hear the symphony of this mechanical wonder.
Step 3 - I engage first gear and she starts to move. I can't believe I'm driving a Ferrari. I am on a wide open road, but take it very easy for the first 15-20 min just trying to get a hang of the vehicle. I can stop giggling inside my head. I'm reminded of Pink Floyd's Brain Damage and the laughing soundtrack in that video.
Step 4 - I've now been driving her for 20-25 minutes. I've got the general hang of things and I decide that it's time to realize item #1 on my bucket list - WOT in a V 12 Ferrari. I go for it and what happens next is indescribable in words. I feel like I've been slapped on my backside by Thor's hammer and am going to be launched into outer space. The audio coming from the screaming engine and exhaust has completely taken over. My hands are holding on to the steering wheel for dear life and before I realize, I've now attained the fastest speed I've ever done in any car or bike. I am absolutely overwhelmed by this experience. It's something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I'm sure this is how Captain Kirk felt, the first time he engaged warp drive on the Starship Enterprise.
What's it like to live with the FF?
Like you are on top of the world!
I had this car for a few days and did a lot of driving in that time. I took my wife and kiddo for a 300 km+ drive. I went for a 500 km+ run with a few of my buddies. And I did a lot of city and periphery driving.
This car is sheer genius. The has a complete Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality. Drive her softly and she moves like any large sedan would. The fueling is smooth, the ride quality is compliant, the gear shifts are seamless. She has comfortable seating for 4 adults with adequate luggage space. The ride height is decent - I rarely scraped her anywhere. The sound system is pretty decent. There are no super car tantrums. But even in this sedate state, there is supercar drama. The nice weighty feeling of the steering. The gentle roar of the exhaust. The crisp "pop-paps" of the gear shifts. Even when you're driving in city traffic at 50-60 KMPH, there is something magical about her. AdrenaSense starts to flow.
And then with a few clicks of a switch on the steering wheel (called the manetteno) she transforms into Mr Hyde. Turn the gearbox into full manual mode, give it some gas and she transforms into a formula 1 car. The sound, the feedback from the steering, the quick shifting of the gears, the manic engine and exhaust noise, the insane g forces on your body completely engulf you. That you are experiencing all this in a 4 seater, 4 wheel drive road going production car, is almost impossible to fathom.
I have driven a lot of supercars - BMW Ms, Mercedes AMGs, Porsches, Audi RSs, Maseratis, Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and then the one Ferrari. I now understand what they mean when they say Ferrari is at the top of the food chain. She is as iconic a brand in real life as the USS Enterprise is on reel life.
A few months later, I had the opportunity to visit the Ferrari museum in Maranello (I will write a seperate blog about that). One of the most unique places there was their F1 museum. It was a circular room with 10 generations of F1 displayed on one side, every F1 champion who drove with Ferrari on the other side and on top were displayed in a 360 degree view all their F1 trophies. I stood there for 15 minutes, in shock and awe. This is what commitment to excellence means. And that racing DNA lives in every road going Ferrari. No words or pictures can describe it. You have to experience it for yourself.
AdrenaSense score - 1000/10
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