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Apr / May 2017
Breaking the Mould

WRITER: Gautam Sharma

Can a Ferrari ever be an everyday driver? The demonically fast GTC4 Lusso certainly might be. With room for four adults, plenty of luggage and some all-season, all-surface, four-wheel traction, this may be the most indispensable car Maranello has ever built.

What image comes to mind when you think of Ferrari? Chances are you're visualising a compact, low-slung supercar with just enough space for two occupants and perhaps an overnight bag or two in the luggage bay. Basically what you're probably imagining is a fast, focused weekend blaster with an eardrum-assaulting soundtrack and not too much in the way of comfort and refinement. It's all about raw speed – practicality be damned.

But here’s something that will help dispense that notion: the brand-new Ferrari GTC4 Lusso. Consider it the thinking man’s Ferrari or, alternatively, as the prancing horse for those who want it all. It's a 345km/h missile that can propel from a standstill to 100km/h in just 3.4sec, yet still accommodate four adults, in comfort, as well as 450 litres of luggage (the same as a Lexus RX).

 

The Ferrari GTC4 Lusso presents a face lift to the five-year old FF, a front-engined V12 four-seater four-wheel drive, and the Lusso now adds four-wheel steering to the mix.

 

The newcomer has just landed in our region (priced from 318,530 USD in the GCC), and it's pitched at a different sort of buyer than the traditional Ferrari owner. A company spokesman tells us prospective owners of the GTC4 Lusso “use their Ferrari in a different way” to those who have a 488 GTB or F12 in their garage. To ram the message home, he shows us images of the Lusso's predecessor (the FF) in snow, on gravel roads and chock-full of Ikea furniture in the rear. We’re also informed that FF owners made 60 per cent of trips with four occupants on board and clocked up 50 per cent more mileage annually than other Ferrari pilots.

In case you're wondering about the significance of the GTC4 Lusso nameplate, here's what it all means: the ‘GTC’ bit is a carryover from past Ferrari greats such as the 330 GTC and is an abbreviation of 'Grand Touring Competizione', while the ‘4’ refers to the car’s four-seat, four-wheel steering and four-wheel-drive set-up. As for ‘Lusso’, it’s Italian for ‘Luxury’, and the suffix appeared in the past on classics such as the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso.

 

 

Nestled under the coupe's lengthy snout is Maranello's familiar 6.3-litre V12, but in its latest form it pumps out a towering 680bhp and 697Nm. The key point to note is that these formidable outputs aren't accompanied by that typical blaring noise that will induce a headache after an hour or two behind the wheel. No, the Lusso's brutal performance is unfurled with great smoothness and refinement, and the only time the V12 makes its presence heard is when you mash the throttle as far as it will go.

The GTC4 Lusso also instils a great feeling of stability and safety, and this is partly down to its innovative all-wheel-drive system that sends up to 90 per cent of torque to the front wheels when on-board sensors detect a loss of traction at the rear. This pays maximum dividends on roads that are coated in snow or sand.

 

 

So how does the latest Ferrari gel out in the real world? We felt the best way to subject it to the acid test would be to attack the Jebel Jais Mountain Road, which is now regarded as the finest driving road in the UAE – if not the entire GCC.

Jebel Jais (or Ru’us Al Jibal, which translates to ‘head of the mountains’) is the highest peak in the UAE and forms part of the Hajar Mountains that begin in the Musandam Peninsula and stretch to Sur in Oman. It’s not just the proverbial road to nowhere, as there are plans to eventually build a hotel, cable car, paragliding launch ramp, golf course and ski slope at the summit (it does snow there in the winter, and there will no doubt be snow machines to top up levels of the powdery white stuff).

There are two lanes in the upward direction and one coming down, the road surface is excellent and there are good sight lines, so the ascent is a scintillating experience, especially when you have 680bhp of V12 muscle at your disposal. There's no shortage of hairpins and tight corners, so it's just as well the GTC4 Lusso is equipped with huge carbon-ceramic brakes that do an excellent job of retarding the almost two-tonne Ferrari.

 

The restyling includes a front that appears lower, wider and more aggressive and a rear that now features twin taillights each side as opposed to the FF’s single ones. There are some aero and rear roof profile changes, too, even an upgraded interior with a new, more ergonomic steering wheel. But the most significant news is that the Lusso is the first model from Modena to be offered with two engines – a 680bhp 6.3-litre V12 and a turbocharged 602bhp 3.9-litre V8, the latter though will only be available with rear-wheel-drive.

 

As it turns out, there's almost no traffic on the road today, so it's the perfect opportunity to really stretch the Ferrari's long legs up the mountain. What's immediately noticeable is that the GTC4 clings to the tarmac with tenacity, even if you accelerate halfway out of a tight hairpin. A three-metre-long wheelbase and this much weight are normally a recipe for understeer (a tendency for the car to lose grip at the front) when pushed this hard, but the Lusso's active four-wheel-steering and clever chassis-control electronics make it feel much smaller and lighter than it actually is.

But what really separates the GTC4 Lusso from other Ferraris is the supple ride provided by the car's MagneRide dual-shock dampers. This is particularly evident on the access roads leading up to Jebel Jais, as these are scarred with bumps and potholes. They're all comfortably dealt with by the Lusso, enabling us to step out of the car at the end of the day still feeling relatively fresh.

Aesthetics, though, is a highly subjective area, especially when you’re dealing with a car that has a pointy snout grafted onto a station wagon rear end, but, to my eye – and clearly those of the fawning gawkers who swarmed all over the car at Jebel Jais – the GTC4 Lusso is a discernible improvement over the anonymous-looking FF it replaces.

 

 

The GTC4 Lusso definitely has more visual presence on the road than the FF, and few will dispute it’s a sharper looker. A quantum leap has also taken place inside the cabin, which now embodies a pronounced ‘dual-cockpit’ design whereby even the front passenger gets their own display screen (with digital speedo, tacho, gear readout and G-force graphic) to look at. They can also fiddle with the infotainment and HVAC controls via the new 10.25-inch HD touchscreen atop the centre console.

The interior has an airy feel (the two-square-metre glass roof helps immeasurably here) and all four seats are comfortable and impeccably sculpted... yes, even the ones in the back. There are more useful little storage cubbies scattered around the cabin than was the case in the FF, and Ferrari claims you can stash up to 800 litres of stuff in the luggage bay with the rear seats folded down.
As far as everyday usability goes, the GTC4 Lusso is clearly more accomplished than any other Ferrari has been to date. Yes, it doesn’t dish out the visceral high to substitute for the electrifying F12 and 488 GTB (both of these are even more agile and rapid), but then, which other compliant-riding four-seater out there does?

It’s hard to imagine a more stylish, comfortable and brisk way of crossing continents – at least while staying in contact with terra firma. The fact that the Lusso offers the ability to take your family along for the ride endows it with credentials that are unique in this rarefied segment.

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