While the FF I reviewed in August was fitted with a solid aluminum roof, I was fortunate to catch up with a brand-new silver Ferrari FF (it only had about 160 miles on the odometer) with the optional panoramic roof (a $17,666 upgrade) at the Formula One race at Circuit of the Americas just last month. It was my lucky day, as I was about to spend about six hours with the four-place Italian, blissfully enjoying it during the warm day until long after the sun had set on the Texas horizon.
- Unlike the electrochromatic sunroof Ferrari offered on its 612 Scaglietti a few years ago (which was able to vary the amount of light coming through its panel into the cabin with an electronically reactive color-changing gel sandwiched between its panels), the large glass roof on the FF does not utilize an electrical current to work. Instead, it employs a special reflective glass (LowE) that is coated during manufacturing to permanently minimize the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that passes through. While the special glass blocks the invisible light that heats your skin and warms the cabin uncomfortably on hot summer days, it still allows visible light to pass through so the cabin stays bright. As an added benefit, the LowE glass has insulating properties, keeping temperatures from passing from one side to the other in extreme climates.
- While most automakers split their panoramic roofs into two or more panels, Ferrari has elected to go with one very large single piece of glass. The glass is fixed, meaning it does not pop-up or slide back, and it extends from the edge of the glass windshield rearward to the end of the roof. A small aluminum panel, about five inches wide and serving as a base for the satellite radio antennae, separates it from the glass rear window. The panel is offered in both body colors (as was the case on my silver test car) or painted black (as we saw in the first press release). After seeing both, I prefer it painted black, as the panel visually disappears and blends into the glass on either side.
- The FF's panoramic roof appears slightly reflective and dark from the outside, but the view from the inside is much lighter both day and night. The driver and front passenger enjoy the open cabin (the glass panel actually provides more head clearance), but their forward seating position means a glance upward still means looking at the opaque windshield header. Interestingly enough, the panoramic roof is actually better taken in the from the rear seats, where the view is unrestricted, expansive and rather dramatic. The clear roof visually opens up the cabin, giving the illusion that it is larger inside. After experiencing it during the day, evening and night, I couldn't find any faults. The new panoramic roof is not just a no-compromise improvement - it's a must-have upgrade.
- Thankfully, swapping a large aluminum panel for glass doesn't noticeably affect performance. The spectacular hand-assembled 6.3-liter V12 screams every bit as loudly, maybe even a bit more, with the new roof. The all-wheel drive FF remains a driver's car, with wickedly quick steering, strong brakes and more cornering grip than most passengers will tolerate. Only a short list of vehicles can best its exotic acceleration, and none of those will offer as much comfort when stuck in gridlock traffic.
- My car was loaded to the sills with more than $70,000 worth of options, which isn't uncommon on a Ferrari. The list including the aforementioned roof, range-topping carbon-fiber steering wheel with LED tach, diamond-quilted leather and the carbon interior package.
- One final observation: A single afternoon with Ferrari's unusual FF is simply too short.