Alvin Thomas fulfills a boyhood dream by taking the wheel of Ferraris range of supercars.
It’s a moment I have been dreaming of since I was a young boy: climbing into the driver’s seat of a Ferrari “supercar” and blasting the throttle to reach unthinkable speeds. There’s no denying it; it’s a dream I have shared with millions of young boys and girls around the world.
But today, I tick this one off my bucket list as I jump into Ferrari’s gorgeous-looking 488 Spider. The drive is part of the Ferrari “Esperienza”, organised by the generous folks at Alfardan Motors (dealers of Ferrari in Oman), and the location of the drive is the picturesque roads of Al Bustan and the adjoining mountain roads of Qantab.
Memories of me staring at posters of old Ferraris suddenly begin flashing before my eyes. But I’m not going to waste a single second I spend in a Ferrari reminiscing about my past. However, I am struggling to rein in my excitement.
So, without any further delays, I push the “ENGINE START” button mounted on the steering wheel. And roaring behind me is the masterfully crafted 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine breathing out an unbelievable 661hp and even more astonishing 760Nm of twist (torque). The roar is unlike that of any other Ferrari due to its turbocharger. It is truly unique, and one to behold. I even have the retractable hardtop down to hear the engine roar.
Riding shotgun with me is Ferrari’s 22-year-old professional racecar driver, Samuele Buttarelli, who has taken part in Formula Three, Formula Le Mans and many more competitive races. So, I’m in good hands as I take to the roads.
Driving a Ferrari is actually as easy as driving a normal sports car. A simple push of the “Auto” button engages the gear (a seven-speed automanual F1-style gearbox) and lets me get going. From there, I take control of the gear shifts by slotting the gearbox into manual (again, with the simple push of a button).
From there on (once at a safe distance from ongoing traffic), I push the car to its limits, often hitting the redline in low gears. The car is incredibly (almost astonishingly) poised in corners. There isn’t the slightest hint of body roll or even a tyre squeal.
The brakes? Well, they’re quite something. The ventilated carbon ceramic brakes are massive and decelerate the car instantaneously. They really instill so much confidence in me as a driver. Samuele keeps chanting facts about the car in my ears but I’m in the zone – fusing into one with the car – even hitting the rev limiter in corners. It is incredibly stable and balanced at all times, even with the roof down.
But not everything good in life lasts forever. Still, waiting for me at the side of the road is the spanking new Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, the all-new four-seater “grand-touring shooting-brake supercar”. Climbing into the car, I’m alongside Ferrari’s race test driver Phillipo Pessotti. He says the interior of the car is different from that of the 488 Spider. With its 25cm entertainment screen and spacious interior, this is acres apart from other grand touring cars I’ve driven.
But, despite all that, it is the engine that makes this the holy grail of all grand tourers. Underneath its long front hood lies a 6.3-litre V12 making 681hp and colossal 697Nm of torque. This has to be the best engine that has ever been fitted to a four-seater supercar. Its audio (engine) is furious and its output (exhaust), prodigious.
The GTC4 Lusso responds very well to spirited acceleration despite its hefty size, thanks to its torque lying very low down (1,750rpm) in the rev range, hitting the 100kph mark in 3.4 seconds. It also takes corners like an actual supercar, if with a little more drama than its athletic sister.
But because it has four-wheel steering, the turn-in angle is excellent. But I can still feel the rear end poking out in corners, thanks to its stiff and well-tuned chassis. In all, I am only given 10 minutes behind the wheel of the GTC4 Lusso. But that is enough for me to appreciate the sheer engineering that has gone into making this amazing car. Now, it really is time for me to bid farewell to the Ferraris. But something tells me this is not my last time behind the wheel of one.