Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

Ultra-rapid express for the family with a high fear threshold

STEPHEN CORBY

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

AS SOMEONE who spends a lot of time in the passenger seat of fast cars, praying his colleagues won’t kill me, I’m besotted by the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso’s “co-pilot” concept.

“In a normal sports car, a passenger is just weight, and weight is against performance, but this customer likes to share the performance so we give the passenger the same information, so he’s more of a co-pilot,” Ferrari’s tech expert explains.

So the Lusso’s jump-seat gets its own beautifully realised Passenger Screen, which displays everything from speed, revs and gear selection to a Manettino readout that shows what the diff and traction systems are up to.

I loved it, in a deeply nerdy way, and enjoyed keeping an eye on co-pilot John Carey as he hurled me through the Dolomites, a particularly lovely part of his beloved Italy. Sadly, this wondrous feature is an option, and costs $9500.

The interior generally feels light and yet solidly expensive, and is a cut above previous Ferraris. It also includes a big new 10.5-inch central screen that gives the cabin a modern feel.

A similar job of beautification has been done on the exterior, which is a big step forward from the FF it replaces. It looks elegantly powerful from most angles, and classically Ferrari from behind or head-on. Only from the rear three-quarter are you really struck by its shootingbrake dimensions; at 4.9m long and almost two metres wide, it’s a monster, and it weighs an SUV-like 1920kg.

Shifting all that pricey metal and leather is a doddle for the naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12, which delivers a coccyxclattering 507kW and a barely less impressive 697Nm, 80 percent of which is on tap from 1750rpm.

The sensation of this machina searing past 100km/h in just 3.4sec (0.3 faster than the FF it replaces) on its way to 200km/h in 10.5sec and a top speed of 335km/h is as vast as the smile it puts on your face.

The driver’s seat is where you really want to be because it’s here you can appreciate the work Ferrari’s dynamics department has done.

Your initial impression when attempting to corner quickly is of weight and size, and wondering whether this can possibly work.

You expect understeer, but it doesn’t come, so you push harder, predicting oversteer on corner exit with all that grunt, yet it doesn’t overpower you. Soon you find yourself attacking winding roads at crazy speeds and shaking your head in disbelief at the GTC4’s capabilities.

While the steering feels artificially weighted and a bit sloppy in Comfort mode, switching to Sport tightens it up nicely and adds to the fun.

The Lusso is no mid-engined supercar, of course, and if you didn’t need back seats you’d take a 488 any day, but it still displays plenty of Ferrari DNA.

The one bugbear, however, is that it’s been designed to be quiet and polite around town, with an exhaust bypass valve that mutes all that fabulous V12 noise unless you’re really on the gas.

Apparently family-focused buyers don’t want an engine that will “frighten the children”, so instead you get one that sounds a bit agricultural and unexciting at low speeds, which seems a terrible waste. Thankfully, at high speeds or with enthusiastic throttle applications it sounds simply stupendous, as a Ferrari should.

Overall, the GTC4 Lusso is not just a worthy replacement for the frumpy FF, it’s the car it should have been in the first place.

PLUS & MINUS

Price; a little too quiet and refined for some tastes; expensive options Style; interior luxury and tech; atmo V12; noise; steering; handling Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale el eren t hyee Ferrari GTC4 Lusso 6262cc V12 (65°), dohc, 48v 507kW @ 8000rpm 697Nm @ 5750rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 1920kg 3.4sec (claimed) 15.3L/100km $578,888 Now

Pay per view

If you’re reeling at the thought of having to pay almost 10 big ones for Ferrari’s fabulous co-pilot option, you might just consider it a bargain next to the panoramic sunroof. At almost two square-metres, it creates a fantastic sense of spaciousness, particularly from the GTC4 Lusso’s cosy back seats, but will set you back $32,500.

Yes, really, they want that much to put a glass roof on your $578,888 family car. Thankfully the base price is $46,122 cheaper than the slightly underwhelming FF so you’ll have some spare cash to play with.

OR TRY THESE...

Aston Martin Rapide $378,500

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Porsche Panamera Turbo $376,900

All-new model packs a stonking twin-turbo V8 that may not ignite the senses like Lusso’s V12, but has its measure for torque, while Porsche’s rear doors raise the practicality factor.