The Ferrari fit for a Labrador

It’s a problem I’m sure you’ve manfully struggled to solve for many years. How do you get your dog into your Ferrari? You can put dachshunds in Daytonas, scotties in Scuderias and cockers in Californias, but, unfortunately, the most famous car company in the world hasn’t really provided the ideal method of canine transportation-unless the dog in question fits into an average-sized Hermès handbag.

Now, however, with its FF-a four-seater shooting brake-Ferrari has built a car that offers up the thrills of the finest supercars known to man and can accommodate a large labrador in the hatchback boot. On top of that rather handy feature, it’s a four-wheel drive, which means that, with this quarter-of-a-million-quid car, it’s entirely possible to pack the dog and the wellies, head up a muddy lane for a nice walk and drape yourself in glad rags and barrel up at the Savoy for dinner.

Feeling brave (and unable to afford the latter), I decided to give the former idea a go-and then immediately lost my bottle. The problem is that Bertie, my rather excitable labrador, can’t be trusted to sit sensibly when a walk is on the cards; with a few thousands pounds’ worth of soft Italian leather smeared around in the boot and a £6,000 paint job, the fear of damage and a right royal rollicking from Ferrari was too much. Instead, I borrowed my friend’s retriever, Bracken, trained for the peg and boasting levels of obedience and respect for fine Italian engineering that my dim hound could only dream of.

We headed out into the muddy, wet Midlands, splashing down roads that had been battered to bits by constant rainfall. I worried about the wheels and the low, sleek body scraping over ruts. I needn’t have. The FF’s under-carriage can lift a few inches to skip over such triflings, the suspension softens a tad and the four-wheel drive keeps the gorgeously sharp nose pointing in the right direction.

Don’t think that the FF is some sort of off-road, workmanlike Steady Eddie, however. Given the opportunity, it’s immensely, ridiculously fast. The four-wheel drive system is not the type that dulls the driving spirit of the car-it’s still a twitchy, edgy supercar when it wants to be, with 650bhp made by the 6.2-litre V12. It can switch from suitably practical to practically surreal in seconds.
My children also liked it, because they could languish in the two rear seats and watch television. My wife was less impressed, however, because this version came with the optional speedo and rev counter on the dashboard in front of the passenger. She already had a pretty good impression of what was occurring as those 12 cylinders howled their mightiest, but having it laid out in black and white exacerbated the problem.

The FF is not entirely perfect. The radio doesn’t work very well, the satnav has been lifted from some cheapish American car of a decade ago and the mechanical arm that hands the passenger their seat belt got stuck at full proffer. These are piffling matters, however, because the FF is beguiling and unique. There really isn’t anything like it.

A stroll in the country with a happy dog is about as good as it gets in my book, but a drive in the country with a snoozing (and towelled-down) dog in the boot of your FF comes a close second.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save

* Follow Country Life on Twitter