Ferrari GTC4Lusso first drive review: The Ferrari that’ll make you unclench

By Shubhabrata Marmar

Driving supercars is a bit stressful for me. And I've driven quite a few. But it seems to be an automatic reaction that I haven't been able to quell or escape even after years of driving them. I guess the reason is that I am responsible for them as I drive them. Not that I have a terrifying or horrible history with supercars but I have nightmares about potholes and speed bumps. I'm sweating just thinking about the combination. I needn't have, really. Because the Ferrari GTC4Lusso is a charming calmer. Or a calm charmer if you prefer.

You slide into a luxurious cabin without folding yourself in half because the seat is low and the sill is high. Then you look out upon the world and realize that you can actually see where your bonnet ends which is always a good thing while you get familiar with a car. And then, what's this, working suspension? Well, suspension that understands how to handle passengers over bumps as well as a flat cornering posture and resistance to body-roll when you're pushing your luck in corners. Makes you wonder what Ferrari engineers ate on the morning the Ferrari GTC4Lusso was conceived.

It should not come as a huge surprise, though. The Ferrari boffins have always had a four-seater in the range, a practical, even pragmatic option for their customers. And despite all the fun that might be poked at the idea of a Ferrari estate, the Lusso's got the silhouette that will slacked the jaws of the most hardened of cynics. The FF, which the Ferrari GTC4Lusso replaces, was a lot boxier and the Lusso is voluptuous and desirable as the cars of Emilia Romagna are expected to be.

Some part of the strong magnetism is in the details - the Lusso receives win round tail lamps. Other ingredients are more function-oriented, like the gaping intakes for the engine. But all this is wrapped up in a hip and generously-hipped wagon form that will make the Swedes, considered the elephants in the estate room, weep. The Ferrari GTC4Lusso, as strange as it sounds, is a sexy, sportscar-wagon. There, I said it.

Who would have thought it was possible, eh?

It drives with that same sort of impossibly duality as well. When you hit the engine start button in the echo-y porch of a big hotel, the Lusso doesn’t call everyone and their uncles’ attention by default. The exhaust is audible but it doesn’t explode into life.

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With the mode selector in Sport, it uses its electronic suspension control to offer a reasonably comfortable ride and you can even temporarily raise the nose when you see a mountain range, er, speed breaker looming. At the back, two adults can actually sit in some comfort though the best seats are, naturally, up front. Hell, even the boot is not a namesake and with the seats folded, you’ll get essentials, like the golf set transported without fuss.

It’s almost enough to make you forget that this is a 690 PS sportscar. Almost. Because once you find a deserted road like I did and floor it, the Lusso comes alive. As if every one of the 690 horses woke up and decided to gallop through the sand dunes at full tilt.

Floor the pedal and the raucous note of a Ferrari V12 is impossible to mistake for anything else. Revs rise fast and the numbers of the speedo rise very, very fast indeed. 100kmph arrives in 3.4 seconds. The suspension is notably harder and the performance on offer is the sort of serious shove that you expect from a V12 Ferrari. In fact, the Lusso feels more cohesive in this full-tilt mode than it does wafting about in city traffic. But the fact that it does both well is key to its appeal.

The ride and handling bias though is more comfort oriented than any Ferrari I have driven yet. You see, the 7-speed automatic is at the rear and that gives the car a slightly rearward weight bias. And at high speed, it also becomes a rear-wheel driver.

And this is a sharp, responsive car, though the 488 is vastly more finely honed on both counts. But turning the Lusso into a smooth, uphill and endless left-hander, I found the nose to be just a bit more flighty than I liked. Now this is well past 250 kmph, so this is hardly a problem but it showed me that the Ferrari does take its job as a comfortable, fast and sporty GT seriously.

 

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And therefore it has what will be a comfortable, even plush ride by Ferrari standards as well as ultra-strong but progressive and friendly brakes. It’s a car that makes you spread yourself out comfortably in that cabin. And allow you to drive with one hand on the wheel as you cruise out on the highway, or enjoy the delicious edge between the point where all four wheels are hooked up and where the slides begin. It’s the Ferrari that’ll make you unclench.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso T

In September 2016, at the Paris Motor Show, Ferrari revealed the GTC4Lusso T, a car perhaps better named the Lusso V8. Because what it is, is the Lusso but now powered by a turbocharged V8. To be precise, a 3.9-litre engine that makes 610 PS and 760 Nm. But the smaller engine and the turbo make the T both more affordable as well as more fuel-efficient and give it more range on the tankful. That aside, the Lusso T retains the rear-wheel steering, the electronic suspension control as well as Ferrari’s excellent slide control systems. In India, the Ferrari GTC4Lusso T prices starts at Rs 4.2 crore, ex-showroom.

Ferrari 4RM-S : Four-wheel drive

Ferrari’s four-wheel-drive system debuted in the FF and it’s a part of the Lusso show. Ferrari places the engine quite a way back up front and it allows them to add a PTU, or power take-off unit ahead of it and drive the front wheels through two clutches, effectively making it a four-wheel-drive car. The PTU runs a two-speed gearbox so that it can offer lower gearing for first and second gears while the higher of the two gears handles third and fourth. After this, the Lusso returns to a rear-wheel-drive configuration, but you’re probably going faster than 200kmph, so you really shouldn’t need four-wheel drive past fifth gear. The system, called 4RM-Evo, can transfer up to 90 per cent torque to the outer front wheel.

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Rear-wheel steering

The rear-wheel steer system isn’t all-new either on the Lusso but it allows actuators on the rear to turn the rear wheels by a small amount positively or negatively to add agility and response to the car’s turning ability. The toe-in amount is small but it makes the car feel smaller and tighter in the way it responds to the steering input. The actual choice of when and how to turn the rear wheels is made by the Ferrari Side Slip Control System which decides how best to stay on trajectory.


Published Date: Jun 04, 2017 01:24 pm | Updated Date: Jun 04, 2017 01:24 pm


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