It was a sunny, unseasonably warm day in winter. The sky was blue, the birds were singing, and the road underneath was disappearing under the lengthy bonnet of the car.
I saw some horses in the paddocks alongside this lonely stretch of tarmac on the other side of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, and thought to myself: “I’ve never been kicked by a horse.”
Then I planted my right foot, and got what I can only assume to be a fair idea of what it might be like to cop a horseshoe to the hairies. I was driving the 2017 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, which grasped the horizon and gripped it, throwing me – and the car – at it at an eye-watering pace.
This mega-engined four-seater is the brand’s most practical offering, a hatchback for all intents and purposes, and with all-wheel-drive for some extra sensibility.
But, really, sensible? A Ferrari, sensible? Don’t be silly. This is a $578,000, V12-powered hunchback with a heck of a temper, a car that does nothing by half measures.
Four-wheel steering helps it tug you around corners, which it does like a much smaller car, and even with all-wheel-drive there’s – supposedly – plenty of traction to be had, too. But thump the throttle when the tyres are cold, or when you’re powering out of a corner… or just about anytime when you don’t apply pressure in a measured way, and back end will step out – with good reason.
The twelve-cylinder engine makes the GTC4 Lusso one of just a few cars on the market with more than 500 kilowatts – a staggering 507kW at 8000rpm, to be exact, and it has a handy 697Nm of torque at 5750rpm, too. Too much power? You could consider the V8 turbo GTC4 Lusso T (449kW of power, but 760Nm of torque - different strokes, as they say).
The top speed is 335km/h, according to Ferrari – I believe that figure, but I wouldn’t dare try and reach it on public roads here in Australia. It feels like you’re going fast at just 100km/h in this thing if you’re in the right gear, and it’ll take just 3.4 seconds to get to that speed.
The redline is way up at 8250rpm, and boy, oh boy, does the engine like finding its way there, as it shuffles through seven gears with its dual-clutch gearbox. The shifts are rapid, clinical under hard acceleration.
It’s hard to describe the bellow and shriek that emanates from the quad exhausts of the GTC4 Lusso – so I put together an audio review in order for you to hear it for yourself.
The sound in itself is enough to make you want one of these cars, not to mention the immense response from the demonic V12 engine, which happens to use 15.3 litres of 98RON premium fuel per 100 kilometres – but who cares. It’s not all about the engine and the noise – this is also a superbly balanced and controllable supercar.
The steering is ultra sharp, even if its nose is long and heavy, and even if the formula-one-like steering optional wheel – with its discombobulating array of controls and switches – takes some getting used to. The carbon-fibre finishes, the manettino drive selector, the push-button ignition, wiper controls, headlight controls, not to mention the massive carbon paddles, are a joy to behold.
Bearing in mind the kerb weight of the GTC4 Lusso is a hefty 1920 kilograms, there’s a lightness to the way it drives that belies that figure – it doesn’t feel particularly hefty in corners, and it will well-and-truly boogie when you ask it to… scratch that – it’ll invent a new dance move to test out the Pirelli P Zeros (245/35 at the front, 295/35 at the rear).
But as much fun as it is to wring the neck of a Ferrari, considering that’s what they’re made for, it’s what the GTC4 Lusso can do when you’re cruising along under light throttle that is perhaps its most surprising attribute.
The engine and transmission will happily coast along in top gear at speeds as low as 50km/h, humming at just under 1000rpm. It’s almost unnerving when you are driving it like that, and you can feel the engine surging along with a lumpy readiness, itching to be released – a bit like a terrier that’s keen to be let off its leash at the park. A word of advice: just let it off the leash – it’ll appreciate it later, and so will you.
The ride is superb, with the adaptive 'Magnaride SCM-E' suspension dismissing bad surfaces and allowing the cabin to remain unruffled in almost all situations, pockmarks and speed-humps (taken at acute angles to avoid bumper crunching) included. Our car was fitted with an optional lift system to stop you scraping its underbelly as you go into driveways – another practical touch.
It’s practical touches like those that are somewhat unsurprising, because this is the prancing horse brand’s most thoughtful car on sale today, and perhaps ever. It’s a supercar for the pragmatist – and that’s part of the reason I loved my time with it, because I’m usually reviewing dual-cab utes, commercial vans. small SUVs or bulk-selling hatchbacks.
Ferrari says the GTC4 Lusso was made to be a grand tourer with seating for four, and it executes on that mission brilliantly.
The space – which is easier to get into than you might think, thanks to the electric front seats that’ll shuffle forwards to allow you in – is great for adults, with lovely sculpted twin rear bucket seats that are more comfortable than anything you’ll find at Freedom, with a handy little storage area between the seats that includes a pair of USB jacks for your devices.
In fact, the cabin storage is excellent, with nice sized door pockets and some decent loose item storage between the seats. And, being Ferrari’s only hatchback, it has a boot that’s big enough for a couple of Louis Vuitton (or any brand, really) weekend-away bags, at 450 litres.
There were options aplenty on our tester (see below for a full breakdown), including the sumptuous brown diamond-stitched leather trim that is so delicious that if they made pants out of the stuff, I think I’d be tempted.
There’s also the exorbitant but arguably essential panoramic glass roof, not to mention the option of Apple CarPlay, which costs half as much as a light car that comes with the tech as standard – seriously. It’s not like it’s a special version of CarPlay that turns the screen into a 3D model of Miranda Kerr or anything, either: it’s just the same mirroring tech as you get in a Kia Picanto.
The standard media system is a crisp looking 10.25-inch screen with satellite navigation, which is easy to use and the Bluetooth phone connectivity worked a treat during our time with the car.
The display features a few hard buttons underneath, which are handy when you need to get back to where you started, but on the topic of buttons, it’s a bit hard to see the ventilation controls – or, more specifically, to tell what modes are active – because the buttons are low-mounted, and in bright light it can be hard to see the back-lighting.
My passenger, my partner Gemma, was both fascinated and perturbed by the passenger-side information screen on the dash, which displayed the gear chosen, drive mode in use, revs and speed being hit. Suffice to say, she switched it off because she didn't want to know what pace we were approaching corners at...
If you’re thinking this may be the ultimate family car, you’re mostly right – but there are some safety elements that may weigh on the minds of those who are indulging not just themselves, but their loved ones. There are no curtain airbags, for example – just dual front and front side coverage – and there’s no autonomous emergency braking (though the standard-fit carbon-ceramic stoppers are excellent).
And if you’re worried about parking it, you needn’t be – it’s surprisingly easy, with the rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors helping out. Just watch those gutters, as the 20-inch rims are stunning, and wouldn’t look much chop with rash on them.
It is, without doubt, a luxurious supercar that happens to have a kick like a horse… presumably. Ferrari can be proud – it may stick out as a bit of an unconventional offering in a space where sleek sells, but the GTC4 Lusso not only a good supercar – it’s also just a great car.
2017 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso:
- List price – $578,000 plus on-road costs
- As tested price – $723,490 plus on-road costs
- Exterior colour: Grigio Ferro – $22,000
- Calipers in aluminium – $2700
- Adaptive front lighting system with SBL function – $4900
- Panoramic glass roof – $32,500
- Front and rear suspension lift system – $11,000
- Embroided prancing horse on headrests in Nero – $3500
- Sport exhaust pipes – $1400
- Rear boot lid Italian flag – $1900
- Scuderia Ferrari shields on fenders – $3100
- Colour upon request for leather tunnel compartment – $1900
- Passenger display – $9500
- 20-inch chrome painted forged wheels – $10,600
- Hi-Fi premium system – $10,450
- Standard stitching in Beige chiaro – $1250
- Carbon-fibre driving zone + LEDS steering wheel – $13,000
- Diamond pattern style seats – $9000
- Apple CarPlay – $6790
NOTE: The images in this review are a mix of press-supplied and driver-shot. You can pick the average ones, which were all done by the author, who knows he is better with his words than anything else.