Please let this be real. Riding along in Faraday Future’s FF 91

The road ahead looked steep for Faraday Future after the company’s debut at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show: A year’s worth of bad news — construction was halted at the factory, suppliers sued, and in general everyone’s sweating the small stuff — made it seem unlikely that the company would even finish the course and arrive at this year’s CES.

Challenges be damned. Faraday finished the race and arrived at the Vegas tech fest with a huge presentation full of bravado; while it left us with more questions than answers, we did get to see a pre-production vehicle in the form of the FF 91, an all-electric crossover with loads of potential. Eager to see what it was capable of, Digital Trends joined Faraday Future for a demonstration and a test drive.

Sitting inside the future

FF had two “beta” models at CES 2017 to show off the car’s capabilities, and since these were test mules, we didn’t really expect much in the way of an interior — just a couple of Recaro seats bolted into the rear and a branded “FF” steering wheel —  nor were we planning to hold that against FF. Whether your company is a toddler or a grandfather, a test model is still a test model.

The way the FF 91 slams occupants into their seats is on par with the feeling of punching it in some high end sports cars.

A big deal was made of the car’s instant acceleration during its reveal, where it was put head-to-head against a Ferrari 488 and Tesla Models X and S. The 130 kWh battery pack should give the FF 91 enough juice for 378 miles of range. Its electric motors generate 783 Kw – or 1,050 horsepower – and they provide instant torque, rocketing the EV from 0 to 60 in 2.39 seconds … or so Faraday Future claims, anyway. Could it do this with us inside?

Faraday lined up our test vehicle for a couple runs, and the punch to the gut as the car flew forward was substantial, to say the least. The way the FF 91 slams occupants into their seats is on par with (if not better than) the feeling of punching it in some high end sports cars like Ferraris or Porsches. It left us with a warm, bourbon-like hug in our stomach each time our test driver sent the car flying forward. We had the driver take a few extra test runs, just in case.

Less dramatic but equally impressive was how tight the turning radius was for the long wheelbase crossover. At low speeds, the rear wheels assist in steering, so the large car is easy to maneuver in day-to-day situations. At higher speeds, we can expect the FF 91’s torque-vectoring capabilities to assist in precision cornering. Having a string of battery packs in the floor of the FF 91 gives the car a low center of gravity, making it feel steady and planted during tight steering situations.

More than just a rocket

Our next demo took us out to the parking lot to showcase the FF 91’s autonomous parking. With a simple press of a button, the car deployed its hood-mounted LiDar sensor and began rolling steadily through the parking lot, scanning for open spots along the way. Once it found one, it backed into the spot and awaited its next command.

Faraday says that the FF 91 will learn its operator’s habits and frequent surroundings, enabling conveniences like self parking. For example, every day an FF 91 owner drives to work, it will recognize it as a frequently visited area and familiarize itself with the environment. Once it’s gathered enough info, it’ll alert the owner that it can park itself from that point onward. The owner simply needs to recall the FF 91 with an app command and the car will pick them up at the door.

What we saw for ourselves was indeed impressive, but it was also nothing new. We knew that the FF 91 would have instant torque and a planted center of gravity, because that’s something inherent in EV design. We’ve also seen demonstrations of cars drive around a lot and park themselves. Heck, cars have had the ability to scan and parallel park for years. This hands-off demo was too limited to get a sense of its performance capabilities, but it was impressive enough to make us want to try it ourselves. We also would’ve liked to have been able to see some of the more unique functions, like its facial recognition and connectivity capabilities.

Another thing to note was how incredibly kind and enthusiastic everyone at Faraday was during our visit. From the test drivers and engineers on hand to the key figures behind Faraday who we saw speak, everyone was eager to show off the FF 91 and were proud of what they had made. Had I seen this side of things earlier in the week, instead of the show Faraday Future put on for the FF 91’s reveal, I would’ve left the pavilion with a little more empathy for what the team endeavors to accomplish.

It may or may not be a game changer, but the FF 91 definitely has the potential to be a very good car. Let’s hope Faraday Future can stick around long enough to make it.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Killing Eve'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.

What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi is bringing two technologies to CES 2019. The first turns a car -- a luxury sedan, in this case -- into a drive-in movie theater. The second is presented as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

California wants all-electric public bus fleet on its roads by 2040

California approved a regulation that targets an all-electric public bus fleet for the whole state by 2040. The effect of the full implementation of the regulation is equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

1,000-mph Bloodhound supersonic car project finds a last-minute savior

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has found a buyer. The project was going to be disbanded after running out of funds, but its assets were purchased by British businessman Ian Warhurst.

Ford’s prototype Quiet Kennel uses noise-canceling tech to keep dogs stress-free

Ford is ending 2018 by venturing into the doghouse market. The company's European division has built a kennel equipped with active noise-canceling technology and soundproof walls that help dogs sleep through fireworks.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.

The best compact cars pack full-size features in fun-size packages

The best compact cars on the market rival their counterparts in many ways, proving that bigger isn’t always better. Here, we've rounded up some of the better options available, including an SUV and an electric alternative.

Lincoln revives its coolest-ever design feature for limited-edition Continental

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.
Product Review

Ford’s reincarnated Ranger feels like a car that does everything a truck can do

The 2019 Ford Ranger aims to be a tool for weekend adventures, and goes head-to-head with midsize pickup trucks from Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. Ford hasn’t sold the Ranger in the United States since 2011, so it has to make up…

Audi’s self-driving car unit teams up with Luminar to go driverless in 2021

Audi's self-driving car unit has teamed up with Luminar to develop and test autonomous technology. Luminar provides its lidar technology, which sees farther than the sensors offered by rivals, while Audi brings its own software.