You can almost hear the committe meeting that came up with this latest Ferrari’s name.
“It needs to be historic,” says an espresso.
“How about GTC? We’ve used that before,” says a suit so sharp it could prepare sushi.
“I like it,” replies the espresso, “but we need to remind people about the ‘four’ stuff”. You know, the seatsm the steering, the driven wheels.”
“Ok, but GTC4 sounds much too sporty,” chips in some designer stubble.
[Pause for cigarette break]
“Why don’t we tack on a Lusso?” suggests some indoor sunglasses on their return.
“Perfetto!” cries an enthusiastic mahogany tan.
“GTC4 Lusso. Snappy. So much better than FF. To a long lunch!” decrees the sharp tailoring.
The initial impression is that the GTC4 Lusso is a mild facelift of the FF, but the more you walk around the car, the more you walk around the car, the more you see the changes. The back in particular is much fussier and wider-looking with the extra tail lights. I do the big gills on the flanks behind the front wheels, through, and the overall shooting brake/breadvan design remains very appealing, I think.
Under the skin, the-four-wheel-drive system retains the clever arrangement whereby it draws power directly from the front of the engine. This was the central part of the FF’s 4RM system (that’s ‘quattro ruote motorici’ or ‘four-wheel drive’), which also incorporated the E-Diff, F1-Trac, ESC and SCM (magnetorheological damping). In the GTC4 Lusso, 4RM has been updated to EVO status with the inclusion of fourth-generation Side Slip Control (SSC4) and, more importantly, rear-wheel steering (4RM-S). Unlike in the F12tdf, where it was used to improve stability, here the 4RM-S is designed to increase agility on the way into corners.
Open the big door, drop into the driver’s seat and you find yourself in an interior that is an interesting blend of technology and luxury, It’s a bit like seeing a Casio G-Shock watch on a leather strap. There is a new steering wheel, which is a little neater and has a few welcome ergonomic changes: the indicators can now be activated from the back of the spokes as well as the front, the windscreen wiper settings are chosen with a more Intuitive little roller wheel, and the headlights can be activated with your fingers on the back of the wheel rather than you having to double joint your thumb.
There is also the usual manettino and there are buttons on the back of the spokes that control infotainment volume and the small screen to the right of the rev counter (the screen to the left has its own set of controls situated just under the nearby air vent). It’s probably not quite up to the button count on Vetters steering wheel, but it can’t be far off.
A big improvement is the main screen on the centre console. At 10.25 inches is extremely large, which makes using it as a touchscreen nice and easy (the supreme ride also helps), although you can also use a set of buttons and knobs If you prefer. The menus and maps are well displayed and easily fathomed too, and it feels like a match for the best systems out there. However, it does slightly call into question any need for the optional passenger display. The graphics are very smart and the 8.8-inch screen has been updated to allow the passenger to switch media and fiddle with destinations, but the main scree n is j ust as easy to reach and more easily navigated. Unless the passenger is desperate to have their eyes confirm what their ears can hear in terms of how many revs the driver is using, I wouldn’t say it adds much. However, If Ferrari ever migrates to something like Audi’s virtual cockpit, which does away with the central screen and rather cold-shoulders the passenger, then it would be very useful indeed.
The optional glass roof would seem like a very good option to specify, though. They might not always have the beautiful pale peaks of the Dolomites to gaze up at, but passengers in the rear of the car are given a much airier sensation of headroom to go with the Lusso’s little extra legroom. The glass also i ncorporates a technology that reflects solar rays away from the car when temperatures outside are high, but then directs heat inwards when the temperatures outside are lower.
We head south from Brunico to Badia and then on to the wonderful Sella Ronda circuit of passes. The mountains are as spectacular as ever, but the hairpins are also stuffed with cars, coaches, motorcycles and bicycles. (We stop and have a chat to Italian national champion Vincenzo Nibali at one point. He owns a C4S but wants an F12tdf.)
The GTC4 feels surprisingly nimble around the hairpins, and despite being a big car with a long bonnet, there is no real need to move your hands away from the quarter-to-three position. Ambling along at a reasonable pace the steering is light and there is a sense of agility thanks to the quick rack. The rear-wheel steering may be adding to the agility too, but it’s not a distinct feeling if it is, which is nice. The only negative is that the nose feels rather remote and it’s quite tricky to get a sense of how hard the front tyres are working.
The ride is exceptionally good. With the mountain road ruckled like an untidy hearthrug I initially worry that there will be all sorts of scrapes and thumps as we hit patches of subsidence at speed, but the Ferrari simply irons it all out. Even without the dampers in their ‘bumpy road’ setting the GTC4 remains unruffled, the wheels working hard in the arches but the body remaining calm. It should be expected given the brilliance of the MagneRide dampers on a 488, but somehow the composure over such turbulent tarmac seems even more impressive In a car of th is size and weight.
What’s slightly less Impressive Is the speed of the GTC4. It’s certainly quick, just not quite as quick as I was expecting with 680bhp (up 29 over the FF) and over 5001b ft of torque, The 0-62mph time is a claimed 3.4sec and 0-125mph is said to take 10.5sec, both of which are more than quick enough for a four-seater, but what it doesn’t have is that feeling of effortless surge when you go for an opportune overtake. There is definitely the requirement to flip the left-hand paddle several times before the V12 feels like it’s got the potency you expect.
Initially I didn’t think the mighty 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 sounded that fantastic either. With the windows up, the soundtrack is akin to hearing a Ferrari exhaust note playing through speakers in a next- door room. It seems distant and slightly muted, The upside to this is that if the sound deadeni ng can subdue the howl of a V12 it is capable of keeping out lots of other, more undesirable noises too, making the cabin a very serene place to spend time. Very Lusso.
Of course, if you don’t want your V12 muffled then all you have to do is pop the windows down and find a tunnel, of which the Dolomites have plenty. In an enclosed space the V12 shows why it is still the automotive acoustic choice for many, with a sound that is beautifully angry. Higher pitched than you might expect given the swept volume, it is a breath of screaming octane- fuelled air that rips the atmosphere apart in a way that a turbocharged engine simply can’t compete with.
‘You can feel the front wheels stabilise a slide quickly and the angle never gets especially big’
With the Sella, Gardena and Pordoi passes too busy, we head for the Passo Valparola. Thankfully it’s quieter and its wider lanes allow the GTC4 Lusso more elbowroom. In the dry, there is quite staggering grip to lean on. Out of anything other than a really tight corner you can get on the power incredibly aggressively and still feel the car hook up with total traction. Lean on it through a hairpin with the ESP off and you will get the rear to move in a pleasing slide, but you can feel the front wheels stabilise it quickly and the angie never gets especially big.
You can certainly cover ground extremely rapidly in the GTC4 Lusso. It feels agile, but the lack of feel from the front end, combined with understandably more pitch and roll than you’d get in an F12 or 488, does leave you feeling a bit removed from the road and tempers your enthusiasm as a result. It’s not the usual nuanced Ferrari driving experience.
While we’re on the Valparola it begins to rain, and in the Dolomites that makes the roads akin to a soapy shower tray. I try the wet mode on the manettino, but although it makes things feel more secure, understeer becomes the default when grip is breached, which feels more alarming than oversteer to me. In Sport or with ESP off the balance is much more fun, but you certainly have to be on guard because, while sometimes the four-wheel drive will hold you In a glorious stable slide, other times it doesn’t jump in quite quickly enough and you can end up with a big car very sideways!
‘It’s a very good car, but I’m just not quite sure it knows what it wants to be’
Overall the GTC4 Lusso is a slightly confusing car to review. It is made by a sports car/supercar manufacturer and It has elements of a sport scar/ supercar about the way it looks and the way it drives – more so than the FF. Yet it also feels like it’s trying hard not to be too sporty. Similarly the driving experience is refined, but also seems to encourage you to push on. yet when you do it then doesn’t quite deliver the fun it perhaps promised. I still really like it and it’s a very good car, but I’m just not quite sure it knows what it wants to be. Perhaps launching it on such relentlessly twisty roads drew too much attention to Just one side of Its character. Or perhaps that all- in-one name sums up the car more aptly than I first thought.
Engine: V12, 6262cc
Torque: 514lb ft @ 5750rpm
0-62 mph: 3.4sec (claimed)
Top speed: 208mph
Basic price: £230,000