Bentley Continental GT Speed 2014 review
It's the fastest, most powerful twoo door coupe that Bentley makes, who say that if you like driving far and fast, this is your car; the Continental GT Speed.
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It takes time for Ferrari's grand tourer to endear itself. The initial reaction to the four-seat, four-wheel-drive is, "what the FF?".
This is not your typical Fezza: it's a big, shooting brake-styled car that doesn't appear to do justice to the prancing horse logos on the flanks.
Fire up the FF (it stands for Ferrari Four...seats or driven wheels, take your pick) and there's a neighbour-rousing snarl as the naturally aspirated V12 displaces enough gases from the quad exhausts to set the garage door panels shaking.
The Ferrari logo is a universal brand and any product endowed with it attracts attention
From that moment on you ignore the fact this $625,000 supercar doesn't make financial sense and focus on the sensory experience. And by any measure, that's sensational.
The FF looks unconventional: a Pininfarina-penned mobile aero sculpture with the cockpit set well rearward of that massive bonnet.
It lacks the immediate presence of the F12 Berlinetta but loses none of its head-turning ability: the Ferrari logo is a universal brand and any product endowed with it attracts attention.
The two-door shooting brake style makes the FF a niche car within a niche market, so there's no direct competition.
If carrying passengers is going to be a regular occurrence, the FF does so in style. The leather-clad rear seats are on a par with the fronts for comfort and bolstering and are raised to give a view of the road ahead. The 450L boot is spacious, if shallow.
Dash and door panels, also appointed in leather, are just as sumptuous, and the cow cladding only gives way - in our test car, at least - to carbon-fibre inserts for the air vents and centre console.
Burberry-styled tartan fabric accents on the seats and dash are part of Ferrari's Tailor-Made customisation program, which involves the owner visiting the Maranello factory to talk directly with a designer.
So it should: someone had ticked all the boxes on CarsGuide's FF and in the process elevated the price to $920,385 plus on-roads.
Well-engineered shift-point algorithms and a Comfort setting on the "manettino" switch on the steering wheel keep the FF docile around town.
The engine howls for a heartbeat before providing thrust
It still feels like a big, potent car but you're not likely to plough through the beautician's shopfront thanks to a throttle map that has the Ferrari barely rolling on its 20-inch rims in response to the first centimetre or so of pedal travel.
Give it a kick and the engine howls for a heartbeat before providing thrust - just long enough to change your mind. Try the same thing in Sport and you'll have changed postcodes before you can do much about it.
The button-operated transmission is easy to adapt to, though newbies will find themselves momentarily searching for a knob or dial when entering the car.
The reversing camera displays via a seven-inch touchscreen and sensors all-round make the FF easy to park. Expect the bonnet or rounded backside to protrude from the city-car sized parking spots found in most metro shopping centres.
There's plenty of tyre roar on coarse chip but you'll only hear it when cruising. Not much can override the bellow of a performance V12 sending crazy torque to the wheels and that can be heard even under 50km/h if the driver overrides the auto mode and shifts manually with the paddles.
It is impossible not to be frustrated by restraining the beast to just 110km/h
Even though the paddles are fixed to the steering column, the scythe-like shape and size mean they're accessible through 90 per cent of corners.
Drive the FF as it was built to be driven and track days or talks with the highway patrol are in your future.
It is impossible not to be frustrated by restraining the beast to just 110km/h (though it eases the pain to watch other drivers puzzling over how a scruffy CarsGuider got the keys).
Face it, if you can afford the FF, go for the track days and see what's beyond the legal-but-boring 3.7-second sprint to 100km/h.
Ferraris are as much about cornering as they are about straight speed and a track with big, wide runoffs is the best place to experience just how hard the all-wheel drive system and Pirelli rubber will haul almost two tonnes of the FF around a corner.
The light steering is deceptively quick and responds to the road surface with all the precision and feedback needed to identify precisely the size of the ruts the FF is rumbling over.
The "bumpy road" setting for the adjustable dampers isn't quite soft enough to subdue our ever-degrading roads but it does an admirable job of taming the supercar's otherwise taut setup.
Sheer size and weight mean the FF won't corner like a 458 but it is at this stage the all-wheel-drive system starts transferring power to the front wheels using a second gearbox and a pair of multi-plate clutches.
The on-demand AWD setup avoids the need for a centre diff and, according to Ferrari, is around half the weight.
On low-friction surfaces - ie, trips to the snow - the FF is the Ferrari to have. It isn't as ostentatious as the F12 but has the legs to match most things on four wheels and do it with four in the car.
One of the most menacing engines on the road, superb brakes, seats for four.
No driving aids (blind spot, lane departure), sports exhaust is an option.
The purchase price covers your Ferrari with a three-year warranty and seven years' free scheduled servicing. That's a persuasive argument to counter the proposition that owning a supercar costs a fortune. Of course, you (should) still need brakes and tyres on a regular basis.
|(base)||6.3L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$338,800 – 389,400||2015 Ferrari FF 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
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