Ferrari makes two kinds of dream machines: sports cars and GT cars. The former rank is currently filled by the 488 GTB mid-engine supercar and the LaFerrari hypercar; the latter is occupied by the California T and the 812 Superfast.
Then there’s the oddball of this aristocratic lineup: the GTC4 Lusso.
Ferrari will never, ever build an SUV. (It has its corporate cousins Maserati and Alfa Romeo to supply them.) Nor will it build a car with four doors. So for that buyer who wants a Ferrari but doesn’t need a bonkers mid-mounted twin-turbo V-8 making well over 600 horsepower, and who would prefer that their ride sent power to all four wheels, there’s the GTC4 Lusso.
The vehicle is part of a very narrow niche: the “shooting brake,” a sort of station wagon coupe, based on hunting coaches from the 19th century.
The GTC4 is a new model of the car once known as the FF. We spent some time with the FF a few years ago, in proper East Coast winter weather: snow, slush, cold. What a car! More recently, Ferrari allowed us to spend a weekend checking out the new GTC4, which came in at $US347,522.84 ($AU439,000) – the 84 cents was just because.
Editor’s note: In Australia, the car is priced at around $503,888, plus on road costs.
What a car … again? Here’s what we thought.
Photos by Hollis Johnson unless otherwise indicated.
The GTC4 Lusso arrived in New York City wearing a 'Blue Tour de France' paint job -- a kind of luminous, deep royal blue that I think looks great on Ferraris that aren't red.
First, a long hood sheltering the monumental 6.3-litre V-12 engine, making 681 horsepower, a bump of 30 from the FF. The torque is predictably abundant at 541 pound-feet. Check out those cool slatted grills on the flanks.
Note that the dual circular taillights, a Ferrari signature element, remain. The succulent, rich, aggressive exhaust note from the V-12 is piped through the quad exhaust.
... and the Scuderia Ferrari badge in yellow on the side. The Scuderia is Ferrari's racing arm, and it's why these exquisite road cars exist in the first place -- because Enzo Ferrari needed money to fund his racing teams.
The swept-back headlights aren't hugely different from the previous generation. They flow boldly and elegantly into the fender.
It's not a crazy capacious trunk, but there's enough space back here for a set of golf clubs, or weekend luggage for a racy couple from Milan.
And best of all, the GTC4 Lusso's Ferrari-ness isn't compromised by this versatility. (By the way, 'lusso' is Italian for 'luxury.')
Blwhahaha! Yes, that's the sound I make when I shake and shimmy with dismayed and wanton pleasure at being encased by buttery leather, labelled Cuoio by Ferrari.
On a tour of the Ferrari factory in April, I watched the leather being cut and stitched for some interior components. The process is amazingly extensive in its commitment to hand-crafted luxuriousness.
It's all about that F1-derived steering wheel, redesigned for the GTC4. Everything you need is on the wheel, with minimal controls throughout the rest of the airy cabin. The paddle shifters for the seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission are easily the finest in the world, huge and satisfying to use.
Turn signals, lights, shock-absorber adjustment, phone, wipers, stop-start, and driving modes -- all right there alongside your hands.
Here's the famous Ferrari manettino, a small toggle switch that enables you to change drive modes on the fly: snow, wet, comfort, sport, and the risky 'ESC off,' which disables the stability control.
Front and center are a tachometer (redline is at 8,250 rpm) and two screens that can display performance data and various infotainment features, such as navigation.
The cabin is spacious, by the standards of high-performance cars. The 0-60 mph speed is an impressive 3.1 seconds, and the top speed is 208 mph, according to the manufacturer. If you're riding shotgun, you might want to make use of that grab bar next to your left thigh.
The transmission selector, plus some cup holders and climate controls. You can drive the GTC4 in full auto mode or switch over the paddles for the proper Ferrari experience.
The back seats don't provide SUV space, but I had two large adults as passengers at one point, and they offered no complaints. (The GTC4's back is a touch larger than the FF's.)
Just in case you forget your car's name. Also, the passenger gets an optional narrow horizontal digital screen that shows drive mode and engine speed by displaying a personal tachometer.
The new 10.3-inch touchscreen is an improvement over the smaller unit in the FF. (Apple CarPlay is on the house, by the way.)
It provides everything the owner of a modern Ferrari might want, from audio to navigation to communication. There's also Bluetooth and AUX-port connectivity.
It's definitely an improvement over the FF, even though it represents a continuation of the offbeat shooting-brake idea. The FF was fun to drive and provided the aspiring Ferrari owner or current Ferrari owner with a more stately and versatile vehicle.
OK, what I'm saying here is that the GTC4 Lusso, and the FF before it, is a Ferrari for the customer who doesn't necessarily find a mid-engine two-seater to be all that appealing because that customer isn't a barely-grown-up 15-year-old.
So yes, the GTC4, like the FF, has been tagged as the older person's Ferrari, even though Ferrari has explained to the media that the buyer of the all-wheel-drive stallion-wagon is younger than the typical Ferrari customer.
Regardless, the GTC4 fits squarely into the classic framework of the venerable European grand tourer, a machine made for weekend runs between city and ski lodge -- with the big plus that the AWD system makes poor weather a non-challenge and the rear boot provides plenty of space for ski boots and fashionable parkas.
We didn't devote the GTC4 to this purpose, but we did spend a weekend wallowing in its considerable charms, from the glorious growl of the V-12 to the stupendous acceleration to the cruising comfort to the interesting four-wheel steering, with the rear tires helping with control. The gearshifts are robust, served up with really kick-in-the-pants feeling, if that's your thing -- we're not talking about McLaren speed with the changes, but if you're even slightly accustomed with Ferrari's magnificent gearboxes, this unit won't disappoint.
The AWD system is complicated and technically dense to explain, so suffice to say it sends traction to the wheels that need it when they need it, and vectors it away when they don't -- such as when the GTC4 is rolling along in a straight line at the legal speed limit, in which case the new Ferrari becomes a rear-wheel-drive-only vehicle.
Because the GTC4 is a relatively hefty GT and not a snarling little sports car, you don't pilot it as you would the 488 GTB. But you can lean on it into a corner, dropping down a few gears and then punching the exits in sport mode on the manettino. The grip will be there.
The steering isn't at all heavy, nor is it overly light -- the feel is just right for a car like this. There's no race mode, and the exhaust snarl in comfort mode has been dialed back from the yowl of the FF, but the GTC4 is still a ton of fun while never coming off as obnoxious.
I liked the FF, and I like the GTC4. To be perfectly honest, although the GTC4 improves on the FF in many, many ways, I'm zagging when others are zigging about the car -- the FF was more about driving, while the GTC4 sensibly updates the vehicle to be more organised around technology and convenience. Modern Ferraristi shouldn't have to suffer with antiquated infotainment, so the zigging is commendable and I'm glad Ferrari is retiring the FF. It doesn't want to appeal to drivers like me forever, as it would lose sales.
The bottom line is that with the GTC4 Lusso, Ferrari has done what only Ferrari can do: build a better Ferrari.
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