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Faraday Future FF 91 prototype quick drive review: Betting the farm

There's a lot riding on Faraday Future's first car, so we took it for a spin to see if it's worth the (long) wait.

There's a lot riding on this car.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

Faraday Future put its name on the map at CES 2017, when it brought hundreds of journalists to a massive tent to unveil its first car, the electric FF 91. It was quite the spectacle, with promises of bonkers performance and even a drag race against a Tesla to hammer that point home.

But building a car is hard, and building an entire automaker is even harder. In the years that followed, we haven't seen a production FF 91, but we have seen Faraday Future's name in the press for…  not exactly good reasons. The company has had its fair share of growing pains, swapping CEOs, changing production locations and getting into a knock-down, drag-out fight with its primary investor.

Through all that, though, the FF 91 continues to work its way through the development stages; the company still estimates this thing will go into production in September. Here at CES 2020, Faraday let me slide behind the wheel of one of its development cars to get my thoughts, and while I might always have half an eye pointed down Skeptic Avenue, the car itself is actually mighty promising.

Now playing: Watch this: CES 2020: Taking the Faraday Future FF 91 EV for a spin
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Weird on the outside, wild on the inside

I'll be straight with you: I don't like the way the FF 91 looks. Now, this is obviously pure opinion, but there's just something about it that rankles my cankles. I think a lot of it comes from the rear end, where there's this odd convergence of lines from all sorts of different angles. It's really busy, and it comes out looking more alien than expected.

But, despite my distaste for it, let me tell you, people go nuts for this car. During my brief spin around Las Vegas, everybody's phones were out, taking pictures and videos. What hands weren't occupied with camera shutters were waving or throwing thumbs-ups. There has been a constant crowd around Faraday's two cars the entire length of CES this year. Its animal magnetism cannot be denied, even if I'm apparently immune to it.

There's no denying how well-crafted the interior is, though. The usual hand-built development car issues aside, there's a real-deal luxury car hiding behind those funky body panels. The space is used very well, taking advantage of the FF 91's shape and resulting in what's closer to a business-class cabin on a big-name airline.

The two individual rear seats (a bench will be optional after the first round of cars are built) have so much space, my coworkers were able to position a full-size camera tripod on the floor with room for both to still recline comfortably. The front is plenty spacious, too, thanks in part to a deep dashboard design. The leather is soft and smooth, and the seats are some of the most comfortable I've sat in. If I had to pick something about the FF 91's interior that I don't like, it would be the large quantity of piano-black trim. I get that it looks luxurious or whatever, but all I see is a smudge magnet.

The last thing worth pointing out is the sheer number of screens inside the FF 91. There are small screens on each door panel, relating to individual-corner adjustments like temperature. Right in front of the driver is a wide, thin screen that displays relevant information (range, warning lights, all that jazz), and above it is a sizable head-up display. To the right of that is the standard infotainment system, this one being Android-based and running in a portrait orientation. The wildest screen, though, is the massive one for the passenger, obscured by the infotainment to keep the driver from distraction, which was running a YouTube video during my drive. Who doesn't love a little content consumption on a car ride?

A promising package on the road

It's always a harrowing experience driving a development car -- it's expensive, it's usually hand-built and everybody's eyes are on you -- but I felt at ease when Faraday Future's PR rep told me before I set off that the company drove both of its cars from Los Angeles to Las Vegas without issue. With that, I took the parking stalk (reminiscent of Mercedes'), moved it to D and lightly applied my right foot to the gas ped... uh, accelerator.

Sadly, I didn't get a crack at the full-fat FF 91. Its 1,050-or-so-horsepower output was hamstrung, purposefully reduced to about 500 hp, which is still plenty. Despite the FF 91's size -- and, I assume, heft -- the car shoved off with authority. I was able to give 'er the beans precisely once, and while my organs didn't require rearranging afterward, it was quick enough to elicit joyful cackles.

The dashboard cowl is low enough to make for plenty of forward visibility. There are some interesting shapes on the dash, too.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

In slower driving situations, the FF 91 was more than happy to settle into a chiller groove. The accelerator was easy to modulate for smooth starts and smooth stops, as the aggressive regenerative braking kicked in early and predictably, letting me one-foot most of the trip around Vegas. When the brakes were necessary, there was plenty of progression there, too.

Driving in a series of straight lines isn't the most dynamic driving out there, which is fine, because there's not much I can speak to regarding the suspension anyway. My development car was riding on adjustable dampers, and the company hopes to run an air suspension setup for production cars, so I'm comparing apples with oranges here. I was impressed by the FF 91's flatness, though, especially in a tight U-turn after I missed a left.

On the whole, though, I find a lot to like in the way the FF 91 drives. It can be sprightly as all get-out, impressing folks with its electric acceleration, but it feels more at home acting like the big, cushy luxury vehicle it is. With a six-figure price tag all but guaranteed, I don't think any buyer will be left wanting in the way the car handles itself.

Down to brass tacks

Here's the thing: At no point was I ever concerned the FF 91 wouldn't be a car. In its role as a conveyance, it performs admirably. Given the fact that Faraday Future claims the development car is about 85% dialed in, what little work remains to be done will certainly impress me further the next time our paths cross. The real issue at hand is whether the company can assemble itself as well as it did the car. It appears most of the bad news is in the past for Faraday Future now, and the company has been very optimistic of late, so here's hoping things will come together and the general population will actually get a crack at this car.