Ferrari FF

The FF has its engine, a 6.3L V12 making 651 horsepower and 504 pound-feet of torque, mounted in a "mid-front" position, meaning at the front of the car, but with its center of mass behind the front wheels. This helps give it especially balanced dynamics near the limits of adhesion. Overall, the FF's weight distribution is an impressive 47/53 percent (front/rear), and its total curb weight is just 4,140 pounds.

The V12 delivers its power through a 7-speed F1 dual-clutch gearbox, allowing a 0-62 mph time of just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 208 mph. Torque is delivered to the wheels through a complex 4-wheel-drive system called 4RM. In the FF, the system is designed mainly for all-weather traction, and but will still deliver full torque to the rear wheels when possible, but with a Power Transfer Unit it sends enough to the front wheels when needed for grip. The system can send power to all four wheels individually through the FF's stability control electronics.

A lightweight structure underpins the FF, with a front control arm suspension and a multi-link setup in back. An adjustable damping system lets you switch to a firmer mode for performance or track driving, while carbon ceramic brakes save weight and provide more confident stopping. When in stop-and-go traffic, the FF's stop-start system automatically turns the engine off to save fuel, then powers back on when needed.

The hatchback design of the FF provides a level of interior space and comfort not usually afforded in a Ferrari. There's seating for four adults in this two-door car -- in soft aniline leather -- as well as enough cargo space for a weekend and the rear seatbacks are split and fold forward to accommodate more cargo.

Standard equipment on the FF includes a 6.5-inch touch-screen system with navigation and 3D map displays, plus Bluetooth hands-free calling integration as well as audio streaming. A dual-zone climate control system is also included. Some of the many options on the FF include a coordinated luggage kit, rear-seat DVD infotainment system with two separate screens, and a Quantumlogic Surround Sound system with 1,280 watts and 16 channels. And of course in the FF, as in other Ferraris, there's a long list of possible upgrades including wheels, special trims, upholsteries and inserts.

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Makers of fine luxury-sport cars are succumbing to the lure of enhanced revenue by adding SUVs to their lineups. Porsche set this particular stage with the Cayenne , while Bentley, Jaguar, and even Lamborghini explore the idea.

Ferrari, with its laser-like focus on performance, would seem immune to the siren song of SUV profits, but I hold that the FF model serves as an SUV stand-in among the very limited lineup. The FF offers seating for four, close to the typical five of an SUV, as well as additional cargo space. It also comes with all-wheel-drive designed to make it more capable in slippery conditions.

The Ferrari FF is about as close to an SUV as I would ever expect to see from a car bearing the prancing horse badge.

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