Dynamic vehicle control is managed first and foremost by the Evolved GT Manettino on the F1-derived steering wheel. It has five settings: ESC OFF, which disables all traction and stability control systems; SPORT, to enhance driving pleasure in high grip situations; COMFORT, for maximum stability and easy of use in high grip situations; WET and ICE-SNOW, with electronic controls specifically calibrated for maximum stability and ease of use in low and very low grip conditions.
The Evolved GT Manettino also controls the SCM3, the third generation of the Ferrari Magnetorheological Suspension System. The latter uses a fluid the viscosity of which is altered by an electronically-controlled magnetic field generated inside the damper. Control software adjusts the intensity of the magnetic field every millisecond. Thanks to the SCM3, damping is now five times faster than with conventional shock absorbers. The FF also has ABS/EBD, the anti-lock braking system which intervenes individually on all four wheels. The ESC (Electronic Stability Control) also intervenes during braking on all four wheels independently. The E-Diff, on the other hand, distributes torque to both of the rear wheels while the race-derived F1-Trac traction control system manages the torque to the rear axle. Lastly, the 4RM Control integrates the F1 Trac + E-Diff + PTU control functions, and manages both traction and stability by distributing exactly the right amount of torque to each of the four wheels, thanks to seamless integration of all the systems. The predictive software logic that underpins the 4RM Control estimates grip. For the first time on the FF, it covers all possible driving conditions from ice to dry track surfaces. Grip estimation was first used in motor racing and then developed for road cars. It also underpins the F1-Trac system and allows the FF to instantly and accurately estimate the maximum amount of torque that each wheel can transmit to the road without wheel spin occurring. What this means in practice is that 4RM Control always guarantees maximum traction regardless of the road conditions, because it independently distributes the maximum amount of torque that can be transmitted to each individual wheel.
The 4RM Control works on the principle that torque is only sent to the front axle when absolutely necessary i.e. when the driver needs more torque than the rear axle can deliver in a given grip situation. When the driver requires less torque than the maximum amount transferable by the rear wheels in a specific grip condition, then traction is controlled by the F1-Trac but on the rear wheels only. The E-Diff then works to ensure the optimal distribution of the torque to the rear wheels in the various situations that can arise, such as a partial locking of the differential coming out of bends (as is already the case with the 458 Italia). When the driver needs more torque than the rear axle can deliver, the extra torque is transferred by the 4RM Control to the front axle via the PTU. The 4RM Control actually distributes the torque completely independently to the front right and left wheels.
This means that drive only goes to the front wheels when the FF’s weight distribution combined with the F1-Trac and E-Diff controls alone aren’t enough to transfer the amount of torque required by the driver to the road, i.e. in all low and very low grip conditions in which the driver still demands performance driving from the car. The 4RM Control features multiple logics specifically developed for the various low and very low grip conditions the FF may be faced with.
When accelerating out of bends in low grip conditions, the F1-Trac, E-Diff and PTU work together to distribute maximum torque to each individual wheel for optimum performance. However, torque is transmitted to the front wheels only in a balanced, progressive way to guarantee maximum stability.
The system can also recognise under- and oversteer situations and variations in grip. It instantly corrects them by modifying the amount of torque transmitted to each wheel. Once again, this guarantees maximum stability.
The 4RM Control also has a specific high-performance start logic optimised for low and very low grip surfaces integrated into the Performance Launch feature active in all Manettino positions. This recognises the amount of grip available to each individual wheel and then sends the maximum amount of torque it can to the road without causing wheel spin. The result is that the car can achieve smooth maximum longitudinal acceleration in all grip conditions without wheel spin. This is very different to conventional 4WD systems in which wheel spin during standing starts is controlled by the ASR and/or by locking the differentials.
Thus, the 4RM Control redistributes torque to the wheels but doesn’t act as a brake as it does with systems used by our competitors. The result is that performance is still optimised in all grip conditions and traction is maximised to the benefit of longitudinal acceleration. This translates into improved stability, handling and control on the limit as well as superb high-performance starts from a standstill even on snow-covered inclines.
Braking is perfectly controlled too, by the Ferrari Pre-Fill logic which activates the pistons in the calipers when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator pedal, helping to reduce response times. The result: shorter stopping distances, better pedal feel, less drag and lower fuel consumption. The FF’s new suspension features traditional double wishbones at the front (with lower L arm) and a redesigned multi-link system at the rear. This boosts transverse and vertical rigidity by 20 per cent. It also enhances handling and that sporty driving feeling, thanks to extremely fast response times, a more direct steering ratio (-20 per cent) and absolutely minimal body roll. Longitudinal flexibility has been tripled too, resulting in lower suspension noise and even more efficient absorption of bumps and asperities.
The FF is also the first car in the Ferrari range to sport third generation Brembo carbon-ceramic material (CCM) brakes. The principal innovation here is the new material used for the pads which has allowed disc dimensions to be reduced by 10 per cent, despite the fact that braking performance has not just been maintained, but improved upon. This is courtesy of a higher and more stable coefficient of friction between caliper and disc, and greater stress-resistance. All of this translates into lighter weight with the same impressive, fade-free performance, lower maintenance costs, and shorter stopping distances. The brake pads now also last seven to eight times longer than those of the previous generation which means that they will probably never need to be replaced in the car’s lifetime under normal conditions.