– The most useful Ferrari
– Cabin trim and space
– Entire drive experience
– Less useful than its rivals
– Impractical boot layout
– A little bit pricey
Respect to Ferrari for sticking to their principles when it comes to building SUVs. While everybody else has jumped on the faux-4×4 bandwagon, the Fiat-owned Italian stalwart has stuck to its guns by making only sports cars. Of course, they did not completely ignore the needs of their customers who might want a bit of extra space, but don’t want to drive something more practical. Enter the “shooting brake” Ferrari, featuring a body-style from half-a-century ago that’s best described as a coupe-wagon.
The Ferrari GTC4 Lusso is actually a replacement for the Ferrari FF that debuted the shooting-brake model. It features an extra-long bonnet and a hatchback-like tail, with two really long doors. While it looks better than its predecessor, our white GTC4 Lusso tester didn’t strike us as particularly attractive, especially compared to their traditional coupe offerings. But as we kept the car over a few days, it grew on us and we eventually saw the point — it’s the classy choice in a sea of 488 GTBs driven by new money.
The GTC4 Lusso is longer a Toyota Camry, but that long bonnet means you sit very far back. It can take time getting used to if you’re not familiar with long-bonnet cars. Stepping in is easier than, say, rivals like the forgotten McLaren 650S, making it more practical for older gentlemen.
Of course, when you’re paying this much money for a car, you expect the best. There’s leather upholstery on almost every inch of the cabin. The only lapses are some plastic trim bits that could’ve easily been done in metal to up the ambience. There is a tinted panoramic glass roof with no opaque cover. The climate control is fairly good in Dubai’s April weather, with spherical a/c vents for all passengers, and a middle vent on the dash that opens when the car is started.
All the chairs in this four-seater are firm and well-bolstered, with good space up front. Adult rear passengers have to contort a bit to go back there, but once in, they have just enough legroom and decent headroom. We put a couple of baby seats back there, and the only issue was installing them in cramped quarters.
Unfortunately, the GTC4 is not as practical as we’d hoped for. The boot space under that powered tailgate is severely limited, and even that is taken up by a fixed spare wheel. If you unscrew and leave the tyre at home, you’ll see that only the top half of the rear seatbacks fold down if you want to carry long items.
Up front, there is now a super-wide capacitive touchscreen on the centre console that supports swipes and Apple Carplay. It also includes controls for the stereo, navigation, Bluetooth and all that. A little colour touchscreen on the passenger side of the dash can be customised to show g-force, speed, revs and what not — it’s a nice gimmick to entertain your friends.
In true Ferrari style, the ergonomics remain quirky, with buttons for the indicators and wipers on the steering wheel, aside from the start button as well as the drive-mode selector. It’s easy to get used to, but oddly enough, the cruise-control controls are on the dashboard.
Powered by the 6.3-litre V12, this car is among the last of the naturally-aspirated traditional Ferraris. There is already a GTC4 Lusso T model with a turbo V8 that’s almost as quick. What further differentiates the V12 from the rear-wheel-driven V8 is that our car came with standard all-wheel-drive that debuted with the Ferrari FF. The standard gearbox is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The V12 makes 681 hp at 8,000 rpm and 697 Nm at 5,750 rpm. Unlike the instant power of the 602 hp turbo V8, the V12 builds speed much more linearly. By the time it reaches the higher revs, you’re going pretty darn fast, accompanied by the wildest guttural exhaust note that harks back to “proper” supercars of the past that you may have played with on Need For Speed.
Gear-shifts are instant, and you can even do it yourself with the paddle-shifters, even though Ferrari’s automatic has a telepathic ability to choose the right gear as soon as you think of it.
We managed a 0-100 kph time of 4.1 seconds without trying too hard since we were on public roads. Oddly enough, the trip computer only has a “range” readout (that we could find), so we estimate fuel consumption at 20 litres/100 km (5 km/l).
Mind you, the Lusso is a massive car at the end of the day, so it isn’t the sharpest tool in Ferrari’s shed. Body roll is non-existent, but we were able to reach the grip limits of the super-low profile 245/35 front and 295/35 rear tyres on some of the sharper corners, at which point, the neutral handling gives way to very minor understeer. However, the front-midship Lusso should still be able to outhandle the whales (relatively-speaking) that call themselves its rivals, such as the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe and the Bentley Continental GT.
The well-weighted steering has tight ratio and offers quite a bit of feedback, thankfully. The massive ceramic brakes are strong, easy to modulate at any speed and very direct, but need to be warmed up for best performance.
The GTC4 also comes with four-wheel steering, which made it feel odd on mild curves taken at high speeds, as the rear wheels were steering towards the turn as well, giving an odd “drifting” sensation but in the opposite direction, and led us to lightly correct the steering multiple times.
But the Lusso’s entire point is that it is a better daily driver. And in that respect, it is manageable if you are comfortable with its size and driving position. Watch out for the 20-inch wheels though, as curb scrapes can be too easy to pick up.
You also have to get used to the gearbox controls — there is only N for neutral and an electronic parking brake to stop, and moving requires flipping the paddle to first gear. The car does not creep forward when at a standstill like a regular automatic would.
The engine is loud, but revs at just above 1000 rpm at a 120 kph cruise, with no wind noise as you mostly hear the moderate engine drone and road noise. It’s not too distracting, but that could change over several hours. Even with adaptive suspension, the car rides firm, but seems to dampen sharper bumps, so it doesn’t feel particularly crashy, and can be used for a daily commute.
The GTC4 Lusso isn’t the ultimate Ferrari driving experience you could have, but still more exciting than anything else you’ll drive in this segment. It’s not as practical as we had hoped, but it’s better than having no rear seats at all, with space for a weekend bag and groceries too. For new-money noobs like us, we’d still go for the 488 GTB (which has no useable boot space whatsoever) and keep a big SUV as a second car, although drives to the supermarket will be a lot less interesting.
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