Alvin Thomas finds a Ferrari that pulsates with performance and is pretty practical, too.
When Ferrari first came out with the FF – a four-seater, four-wheel-drive supercar – people around the world went ballistic (in a good way). The rich now had the means to carry four people in absolute comfort and still turn heads with the drop-dead gorgeous Italian cruiser. It was a win-win for both the owner and the onlooker.
Mind you, it wasn’t the first time that the Italian marque introduced a four-seater supercar onto the market. Their first attempt at building a four-seater dates back to the 1960s when the brand revealed its 250 GT/E. Needless to say, the car was successful and it went on to mark Ferrari as one of the world’s best (and serious) maker of grand-tourers.
Of course, the 250 GT/E wasn’t the brand’s last four-seater. As a matter of fact, many more followed but with their cut-throat and low-slung designs, very few cars that followed managed to sell themselves as grand-tourers (senza the Ferrari California, maybe).
So, the inception of the Ferrari FF in 2011 meant more than just a return to form; it meant that the Italian marque was back in business. It was a hatchback; nay, it was a shooting-brake in all its glory. It had only one purpose: to munch miles like no other supercar would – all the while carrying four passengers. The GTC4 Lusso that I test drove this week, then, is the successor to the FF. But why the name change? Why is it not just “FF”? The answer is simple: Ferrari obviously thought that “FF” was a tad too literal. The Italians don’t do things simply because they make sense in the real world. The Italians craft things to make the world a more exciting place to live in.
Don’t believe me? Just take a close look at the GTC4 Lusso. It’s no regular hatchback. In fact, it’s not even an SUV. In one sentence: it’s a work of art and pure genius.
Let’s start with the design of the GTC4 Lusso. It’s phenomenally “Italian”. There’s a long bonnet that extends all the way to the front, and an elongated tail that swoops all the way to the rear, much like the FF. The headlights are heavily inspired from the FF too, and there are also air-intake vents in the front bumper that look like they are sporting a grin. It’s all so animated it’s almost life-like. So, looks; check!
The interior tells a similar story. All the elements have been redesigned and are thus different to those of its predecessor. I think it’s the nicest cabin I have ever been in: the circular A/C vents are aluminium and have knurled edges to make it look more like an aircraft engine; the large 26cm and easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment unit sits like an ornament on the dashboard. The steering – like that of all Ferraris of today – has variety of buttons (lights, wiper functions, indicators, engine On/Off and drive mode settings) on it.
The latter takes a lot of getting used to but I’ve grown to admire the button placements. I think they are easier to use than normal stalks in a car (although that’s just me being spoilt).
The insides are further finished in premium leather and have been stitched with contrasting colours. The sporty bucket seats are quite comfortable. I didn’t feel fatigued at all – even after my 400km long night drive. Mind you, the seats are also extremely well-bolstered, providing excellent support to the shoulders as well as the thighs during cornering. Oh, and before I forget, the passenger also gets a 23cm touchscreen “scream-o-meter” (that’s what I like to call it), which displays speeds, revolutions as well as acceleration and cornering G-force.
Powering the GTC4 Lusso is a beastly 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12. Many have strayed but cars such as this really put the “f” back in fun. The engine pumps out an almost unearthly 680hp and 697Nm of torque, and power is sent to all four-wheels via a trick electronic-differential and a clever seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (with column mounted paddle shifters).
I could hit the 100kph mark in a mere 3.9 seconds (Ferrari say that it would do it faster)! The gearbox – like all dual-clutch systems – is a tad on the clunky side during normal driving but this car really comes into its own during spirited driving.
This is further complemented by the fact that the engine harvests its power all the way to the 8000rpm limit; going ballistic and screaming in all its fury. The key, then, is to switch the car into “sport” mode and take control of the gearshifts manually. This lets you make use of the phenomenal power and torque band of the V12.
The GTC4 Lusso – like all other Ferraris – is mesmerising to drive. It’s hard when you need it to be, and when you want to cool off and cruise, it lets you do so. The chassis is controlled and predictable, much like that of the California T. But I felt the chassis to be a tad livelier than the latter.
The car also makes use of four-wheel steering to cope with its length. This definitely helps in handling, as the system effectively reduces the footprint of the car in corners. But the GTC4 Lusso is still quite heavy, and it definitely feels so in the corners.
The suspension and the 51cm alloys (wrapped in Pirelli P Zeroes) cope rather well though, and it makes things more… shall I say… fun?
The steering is weighted well, and is precise. Weirdly (and thankfully!), I found the steering provided ample feedback too. Push the throttle all the way to the metal mid-way through a corner and you’ll find that the car goes into an inevitable slide. It’s a fantastic feeling but the intrusive traction control system cuts power to save you from going into a spin.
Here at Y, we push cars to their limits. So, after switching the electronic nannies off, I was able to drift the car into corners easily. I wouldn’t advise you to do that. But if you do, be prepared to be quick to respond. The rear end really likes to kick out, and you will have to feather the throttle to keep yourself pushed to the road surface. The fact that the car is long only makes things harder but once you get used to it, it is phenomenally easy to drive. I would go as far as saying that it handles really well.
Despite being a four-wheel-drive, the car doesn’t understeer either, even with all the electronic nannies turned off. I don’t know how they managed to do that but it keeps its composure in corners. The car isn’t squirmy at high speeds, thanks to the massive rear diffuser. The Germans could learn a thing or two from the Italians here.
In all, I enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the GTC4 Lusso. When the car first broke into the limelight, I wasn’t sure if it would be half as good as the raw Ferrari FF that it was replacing. But I was wrong. This car is not only as mental as any other Ferrari; it’s just as composed and precise.
I really don’t think any other carmaker has got the dynamics as close to what Ferrari has managed to do. The GTC4 Lusso is absolutely fantastico!