► First test of Ferrari’s new GTC4Lusso shooting brake
► Four-seater all-wheel driver picks up where FF left off
► More power, but focus is squarely on enhanced versatility
When Ferrari launched the four-seater FF in early 2011 it took many of us by surprise. Not only was this Modena’s first all-wheel drive car, but it also wrapped its unconventional drivetrain in equally adventurous shooting brake style. And as a four-seater all-paw Ferrari, it really worked. Even the boot was decently proportioned to swallow a weekend-away luggage.
‘The FF was a very bold move for us,’ agrees Ferrari’s head of product marketing Nicola Boari, ‘but FF buyers were a new kind of Ferrarista. The average age of the buyers was 45 – 10 years younger than 612 Scaglietti drivers. 60% of journeys were made four-up.' Average annual mileage was 50% greater than with the 612 as well.
It’s against the backdrop of this popularity – Ferrari has always been backward in coming forward when it comes to its sales figures, but we reckon it found 800 FF customers a year – that we took to the Dolomitian roads around Corvara and Cortina in the new GTC4Lusso. Read on for our full review.
So, this is a facelifted FF?
Tsk. Dunce’s hat for you. Ferrari, as you should well know doesn’t do facelifts. The GTC4Lusso may have a passing resemblance to the FF but it wears all-new sheetmetal, is powered by a heavily revised V12 engine, puts its power down through a significantly more sophisticated all-wheel drivetrain and has a cabin that finally feels like it rightfully belongs in the 21st century.
It’s quite a looker. In an odd sort of way…
It’s a grower, believe us. The more you look at it, the more its sleek and imposing lines hang together, effectively making a car that weighs 1920kg and is 4922mm long and 1980mm wide look lithe and sharky. It riffs on the design language of the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso from 1963 and the 330 GT that arrived a year later. Adrian Griffiths, the Lusso’s lead designer talks about the car’s new ‘pyramidal stance’ and the ‘tuning fork theme’ of its creased flanks. He also mentions ‘hidden richness’ but that’s just an excited designer for you.
Can you really get four people and their luggage in the Lusso?
You can, and with surprising ease. Although your natural instinct may be to snort derisively when someone from the marketing department talks about a 207mph surface-to-surface missile with room on board for four, the fact is they’re right.
Swing open the big door, watch the front seats whirr speedily forward and you’re faced with a pair of deeply scalloped and very comfortable rear buckets. I’m 6’2” and I could sit behind myself without any problems.
The boot is similarly Tardisian. Pop open the electrically-assisted tailgate and the 450-litre loadbay – it grows to 800 litres with the rear seats flipped forward – can easily swallow four overnight bags, or a weekly shop. Handy.
What’s this dual cockpit nonsense all about?
This is a Ferrari, so the driver is still central to the Lusso’s dynamic equation, but the team behind the car’s development has put a great deal of thought and effort into what Griffiths calls ‘democratising the driving experience’.
The result is a cabin where cocooned front passengers not only have their own touch-screen dashboard (a symmetrical layout that’s handy for left- and right-hand markets) but also full access to the shiny new infotainment system, accessed through the pin-sharp 10.25” central screen. There’s lightning quick navigation, split-screen functionality, Apple CarPlay and intuitive access to the system’s myriad functions.
There seems to be a lot of emphasis placed on versatility, connectivity and comfort…
Correctamundo. When Ferrari was developing the Lusso it listened with both ears to feedback from FF drivers. So there’s 16mm additional rear legroom and significantly more on-board storage space compared to the FF, not to mention an all-new climate control system that’s not only 50% quieter and 25% quicker at achieving selected temperatures, but also features seven additional tailored settings. There’s even a new steering wheel with more ergonomically designed indicator actuators and integrated telephone functionality.
But don’t for a moment think that Ferrari has gone all soft and welched on performance and dynamism. Far from it. Beneath that helicopter pad of a bonnet sits an overhauled version of the 6262cc nat-asp V12 that powered the FF. Drawing lessons from the demented F12 tdf, this all-alloy unit steps into the ring with a punchy 680bhp at 8000rpm and 514lb ft at 5750rpm. A massive 80% of that torque is available at just 1750rpm.
The unconventional all-wheel drive layout – the seven speed double-clutch transaxle is joined by a second ‘Power Transmission Unit’ transmission that sits ahead of the engine – has also been finessed. It can now shunt up to 90% of torque to the outside front wheel, making the Lusso even more adept at tackling slippery and wet blacktop.
So it’s a bit of a missile then?
And then some. It’ll claw its way to 62mph in just 3.4sec, top out at 208mph and deliver expletive-inducing acceleration in any gear at any speed between, all accompanied by the goosebumpiest of soundtracks. That on-demand four-wheel drive is a bold and intelligent ally when covering ground quickly, shifting torque to the corners with the most grip to deliver fast-as-you-dare cross country pace, irrespective of weather or road. There’s no sign of nervousness – just a sense of composure and competence.
Throw in to the mix a slick and responsive transmission, beautifully weighted and quick-witted steering, a firm but compliant ride quality and pause-button brakes and you have a unique grand tourer – one that majors on both performance and versatility without one compromising the other. This is a truly superb car to drive – and to be driven in.
Let’s tackle the very large elephant in the room. When it goes on sale early next year, the Lusso will cost £230,430. You see, that kind of wedge buys you an Audi RS6 and a Porsche Cayman GT4 and an Ariel Nomad – surely the perfect 2016 garage – and still leaves you with plenty to spend on travel, tyres and track days. But Lusso buyers don't think like that. Put yourself in the mindset of someone who has £235,000 to spend on a single car, and the Lusso makes a great deal of sense. This is the closest Ferrari will ever get to building an SUV, and all the better for it.