Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Ferrari shows off new AWD system

The Ferrari FF uses a new all-wheel drive system that is breathtaking in its simplicity.

The surprise isn't the acceleration - though 3.7 seconds to 100km/h is pretty good - rather the fact that 485kW/683Nm has been instructed to put all these numbers through the wheels and the result is barely any wheelspin.  This is where the Ferrari FF - the company's first all-wheel drive - excels.

Born from customer demand for a car that can transverse slippery snow and sand tracks, it has been a difficult development that started in 2004.  The FF uses an all-wheel drive system that is breathtaking in its simplicity - a direct drive from the front of the crankshaft to a small box with three cogs, one multi-disc clutch box and two shafts to either front wheel.

The rear wheels are driven conventionally, in this case through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission - another first for Ferrari - that's mounted with the electronically-controlled diff at the rear.

There is no mechanical connection between the drive to the front wheels and the drive to the rear wheels.  There are numerous benefits of this system, Firstly, it's very light (Ferrari claims 40kg that is half that of a traditional all-wheel drive system) and small (the power transfer unit is only 170mm long).

The clutches are monitored and controlled by computers to allocate torque where needed. For example, in situations where grip is lost, it is reallocated to the other wheel. This is constantly monitored so maximum grip is available to either of the front wheels when needed. The same use of electronics applies to the rear diff.

Because there is a speed difference between front wheels and rear wheels, Ferrari has incorporated two gears in the PTU that alter the ratios from the engine to the wheels.  To pick up any smaller differences, the clutch pack is allowed to slip.

Ferrari says the two-cog gearbox in the PTU is good for up to 200km/h at which point the system will disengage drive to the front wheels.  It is possible that in extreme situations that 20 per cent of maximum torque will temporarily go to the front wheels - such as when the rear wheels are on ice - to provide maximum traction.

Ferrari says the system is not transferable to other engines and that it has had no requests from other car makers for a license.