Aston Martin Rapide Luxury 2011 review
THEY say Aston Martins all look the same, and they have a point. When you spy one you immediately...
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The words family and Ferrari do not belong in the same sentence. Yet there is a Ferrari, the FF, which is surprisingly fine as a family friendly four-seater.
It's also very very quick, refined and has looks which definitely turn heads. As for the exhaust howl from the V12 engine, it's everything you expect from a Ferrari with more than 400 kiloWatts.
Still, it's mighty costly and even owners of the Porsche Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide - both fast four-seat grand tourers which could set you back close to $400,000 in the case of the British car - would struggle to shift up to the $625,000-and-more range for the FF.
But, with only 106 Ferraris delivered in Australia last year, and less than one-third of those wearing FF badges, you're unlikely to meet another one in the driveway of the Four Seasons Hotel or your favourite golf club. And that's worth a lot to some people.
It's impossible to measure the FF on any rational scale of value. The FF - it stands for Ferrari Four, and applies both to the four-seater cabin and fur-wheel drive - is the sort of car that's shopped against a weekend retreat or a new boat. I don't have to worry about that.
The FF, and cars like it, are all about emotion, class and quality. So the cabin is draped in the finest leather, the wheels and brakes and tyres are as good as it gets, and the whole car is assembled mostly by people and not just robots. Even the engine gets the hand treatment and everywhere you look there are costly lightweight metals and the finest finishings, including the butter-soft leather
One big bonus is the all-in, seven-year maintenance program. And there is a 91-litre tank to ensure, even with fuel economy rated at 15.4 litres/100km, you'll be able to get gran tourismo range between stops.
This is where a lot of the money goes, from an incredible V12 that spins to 8000 revs and an all-wheel drive system that's brilliant for snow - not a challenge on a summer Carsguide test - and tames what could be a rampaging beast. There is also a seven-speed DSG gearbox that has more in common with an F1 racer than the troublesome units in earlier Volkswagen Golfs.
As you would expect, the car is massively quick with a 3.7-second sprint to 100km/h and a top speed - holiday break in Alice Springs, anyone? - of 335km/h, numbers that make it the fastest four-seater Ferrari yet. The traction and stability control is brilliant, controlled by an F1-style steering wheel.
The FF makes an impact, that's for sure and definite, but I'm not a total fan of the bodywork. For me, the car is stretched too much in the middle and the rounded wagon-style back end would look better on a shorter car. I'm thinking of the M Coupe from BMW.
But other people love it and nobody ignores it during my test run. Inside, the car is superb. It looks and feels great, end of story. It's a big car at nearly five metres, but that means real back-seat space for adults - although Panamera or Rapide-style back doors would be better - and the boot will swallow 450 litres, enough for our three-person weekend escape.
One interesting touch is the optional display screen that sits in the dash ahead of the co-driver and relays information on speed, gears, revs and more.
There is never going to be an ANCAP crash program for the FF so we cannot know if it's a five-star car. But it doesn't have the all-airbag interior of many cars today and there is no sign of the auto-braking or lane-keep assistance in Benzes and Volvos and the rest.
Still, a Ferrari is not a car the owner will put in harm's way - although gawkers with camera phones are a hazard - and it's not going to cover huge kilometres. So let's just say it's good but not great.
Taking the wheel of the FF is like taking command of your personal yacht or private jet. It's that impressive, that sumptuous and that rare. It is big and imposing but, like all good cars, shrinks around you with passing kilometres. It also helps that, despite it's brutal performance potential, it can be tame and responsive in the worst city traffic.
There's always the temptation to tickle the soundtrack, unleashing that V12 scream, but our opening innings is all about getting two adults and a 122-centimetre youngster happy and comfy. Which takes almost no time. The FF is instantly responsible, sticks like cheese on a picnic blanket, and zaps to warp speed in no time. So it's all Ferrari.
It moves around a bit on truck-carved bitumen ruts, and doesn't like Sydney-style pavement acne, but that's no different to any sports car. And that's the important thing. Despite its size, the four-seater cabin and that daunting bottom line, it's a real sports car that would devour a Melbourne-Sydney run if our speed limits were more user-friendly.
There are smiles everywhere during two days with the FF, although sometimes a frown as the dashboard readout reflects some over-enthusiasm, and a never-ending queue of potential passengers.
Time with the FF is memorable and enjoyable, no doubt about it. It's a great car and a great way to impress anyone who steps aboard, particularly four-year-olds in the back and partners in the front who can watch things unrolling on their personal information panel.
But... there are more than 600,000 buts and that's just a few too many for me. I'd prefer to splash out on a two-seater 458 Italia with something more family friendly from the Benz collection for around $100,000 to sit alongside it. But I've ticked a car off my Bucket List and I can see plenty of reasons for the mega wealthy to go for the family Ferrari.
Price: from $625,000
Warranty: 3 years
Capped servicing: 7-year genuine maintenance
Resale: not available
Safety: not tested
Engine: 6.3-liter V12 petrol, 475kW/683Nm
Transmission: 7-speed DSG, all-wheel drive
Dimensions: 4.90m (L), 1.95m (W), 1.37m (H)
Spare: repair kit
|(base)||6.3L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$295,460 – 339,570||2014 Ferrari FF 2014 (base) Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data