The Ferrari FF

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I first met the Ferrari FF in 2011 along with the rest of the world when the 2012 model was unveiled in Geneva. This is the first four wheel drive sports car Ferrari has made. The immediate disappointment is the cost. With no shortage of luxury and filled to the brim with the raw power we’ve come to expect from a Ferrari, the FF is priced near (and depending on selected options, exceeding) $300,000. Speed, power, technology, luxury and the amount of lust I harbor for this car aside…that’s a steep price in today’s economy. To add assault to injury, the 24 gallon fuel tank delivers a combined 13 mpg. Ouch. But for now I’ll try to concentrate on the good. Don’t worry, we’ll revisit the bad news in a moment.

The handling is near perfect. The FF offers advanced adaptive control and proves to be a flawless performer on the road. And the power was jaw dropping. The 6.3 liter V12 packs a punch of 8,000 rpm, 504 lb/ft of torque and 651 hp. With a top speed of 208 mph, 3.8 0-60 mph time and ultra-responsive carbon-ceramic brakes the drive is immensely entertaining if you’re willing to cut this stallion loose and really push it to its limits.

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The exterior, in my professional opinion as a phenomenal judge of aesthetics, is quite beautiful from certain angles…not so beautiful from others. I wouldn’t call the body styling lazy by any means, just not perfect. It does possess some gorgeous lines, however, and I’m a huge fan of hatchbacks. It possesses bi-xenon headlamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers, 20 inch rims (several to choose from), and options such as fender shields.

The interior is much better. Ferrari held nothing back when designing the inside of this track-ready monster. Luxurious is an understatement. The perfectly hand stitched leather trim is awe inspiring and reminiscent of the sort of quality you’d find in an Aston. The most impressive characteristic of the interior is the cargo space. I’m a slut for practicality and the FF didn’t disappoint. There’s 16 cubic feet of space between the rear seats and the hatch. After collapsing the rear seats, however, it transforms into a generous 28 cubic feet! Not bad for a sports car. Also gracing the cabin is 4 of the most supportive bucket seats I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in, but fully adjustable electronic seat controls are an optional extra, unfortunately. But even the comfortable bucket seats could be a drawback to those possessing, how should I say this….more girth than average. In other words, it isn’t a car built for wide asses. For those of you who aren’t the size of a blimp, the biggest disappointment will more than likely be the technology in the dashboard. The touch screen interface seems outdated and is actually identical to the infotainment systems found in vehicles under $50,000. That reality rubs me the wrong way. If I pay you $300,000 for a car, every aspect of it should make me think, “This was well worth it” not, “isn’t this the same touch screen in my Aunt’s Chrysler 300?”

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But, of course, things get worse. Not unbearable, but worse nevertheless. There is no keyless entry. I found that very odd given that even the least expensive cars these days have keyless entry. There is no keyless ignition either, and no option for keyless ignition/entry is offered. Adaptive cruise control, not available. Blind-spot warning, not available. Four wheel drive, the main feature making this particular pony stand out from the rest of the herd, is unceasingly complicated. Too complicated. But in an extremely over-simplified nutshell, in order to keep the engine low, Ferrari invented their own unique four wheel drive system. Unlike the conventional setup, which would require the engine being raised, their system doesn’t disperse near equal amounts of power between front and back wheels. Instead, no more than 20% of the power is sent to the front wheels while the rest is thrust into the back wheels. And if you shift into 5th gear the four wheel drive (most unique thing about this car) turns off and all the power stays in the rear. That’s all well and good on a normal road on a clear day, but if driving through more increment conditions such as heavy snow this could be a problem for the driver who forgets to keep it in 4th. To be blunt, that is completely f*cking retarded.

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I’m a realist when it comes to pretty much everything in life and cars are no exception. I’m notorious for being turned off by the simplest drawbacks of a vehicle. The Ferrari FF is different though. No, it doesn’t have the staggering good looks you’d hope for in a Ferrari. No, it doesn’t have some fairly basic features found on most other cars. Yes, it will set you back 300 grand. And yes, the company spent too much time and money obsessing over reinventing four wheel drive. But I love it. Despite the small disappointments, I love this car. Driving around my track (otherwise known as the city streets of Florence, South Carolina), weaving in and out of traffic, running from blue lights on Cashua Street, turning onto the most heavenly short road we have here (Celebration Blvd), and flooring it to 170 mph on Palmetto Street heading towards Timmonsville was the most fun I’ve ever had behind the wheel of a Ferrari. All while listening to Safe and Sound by Capital Cities on repeat through the selected option of the 1,280 watt sound system. In one word… Euphoric.

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Cars Powered by Lightning?

Just spoke with a man who is developing a way to locally capture and store lightning into “batteries” for electric cars. The batteries are interchangeable so instead of charging your car like present day electric car owners must do, you would simply pop out the depleted battery and replace it with the fully charged battery. The depleted capsule will then be placed in the “harnesser” to be recharged by a combination of aerial electricity (lightning) and the sun. The two batteries are subsequently rotated over and over again as needed. Each has a range between 300 - 400 miles, depending greatly on the foot of the driver.

At the moment, they have converted a 1958 Volkswagen Beetle ragtop and a 1999 Mazda Miata into their all-electric test vehicles. Theoretically, they could transform virtually any vehicle into a car able to take advantage of this system of “free and natural energy” and their next planned conversion is a school bus.

This developing technology could completely change the way our entire world functions. It doesn’t stop with cars and buses. Homes, schools, entire cities could potentially be primarily powered by nature. He theorizes that a “harnesser” could be attached to a home, for example, and instead of rotating the batteries it would directly store and disperse electricity into the house. But for now, they are focusing their collective concentration on the vehicles.

More details to come in the near future.

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