What it is: Proof of the glorious insecurity that motivates the Maranello folk. The 488GTB already leads its segment in both speed and excitement, but the forthcoming stripped-and whipped version will be even quicker and more thrilling. Its predecessors have been named Speciale, Scuderia, and Challenge Stradale, but we’re predicting l’ultimo 488 will carry a different suffix.
THE CAIRNGORMS MUST SURELY BE ONE OF THE most beautiful places on the planet. Whether you’re standing in the shadow of Braemar Castle, dazzled by the sunlight dancing off the River Dee or, like today, on a surprisingly brisk autumnal morning, high up in the mountains with the impression of standing on top of the world, it’s utterly captivating. No wonder the Queen likes to spend time here. Continue reading “Ferrari F355: The Journey Of A Lifetime”
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, 480 KILOMETRES. That’s how long we can keep, and how far we are allowed to drive, this Ferrari F12tdf. What to do with it? Track use is off limits and the small print says that we must not cross the channel. There’s a brief thought of putting it on a trailer and taking it to the Scottish Highlands, but that would be a right faff and would leave us with about ten minutes at the wheel. So we’ll simply go for a nice drive in the country and pop in to see some friends for tea. Car-minded sort of friends. Continue reading “Ferrari F12tdf: The Most Exciting Luxury Ride”
Ferrari can’t help themselves. They’re always building extremely limited-run uber-expensive open-top versions of their models. In 2014 alone they gave us the F60 America (10 built) and the 458 Speciale A (499 built). For their current Spider (project Aperta), Ferrari have not revealed how many will be built (we’re betting less than 100), but apparently all been sold to specially selected Ferrari owners — with names, locations and bribe amounts unknown.
The legendary Italian brand marks 70 years with its greatest supercar ever, the $2.2 million Aperta
The picturesque northern Italian town of Maranello is the birthplace of arguably the finest performance marque in automotive history. At the security gate of the secretive factory, visitors are greeted with a sign, bold and simple: a large rectangle with the word ferrari written in yellow serif font.
Dallas Cowboys fans always used to say the roof of the Cowboys stadium opened so God could watch his favoritc team. Maybe God wanted a peck inside Ferrari s ultimate road car, too. The 218-mph, 949-horscpowcr hybrid-electric LaFerrari will soon be available with a removable roof.
A USB slot. Thank God. It’s like seeing a wedding ring on a Mafia hitman – proof that there’s more to his life than death and dark suits. Apple CarPlay too, and satnav. Good on you Ferrari, for fitting these trinkets to a car that wears each aero flick like a knuckle-duster, for they remind me that the F12tdf is only a car.
EXPECTED DELIVERY: EARLY 2017
SPECS: 6.2 LITRE V12, S07kW, 697Nm, OTO 100km/h
IN 3.4 SECONDS
A Ferrari with four seats seems as unnecessary as an outdoor toilet in a high-rise apartment block. But then there’s much that’s absurd about the new Lusso, from the vast size of its engine to its ‘passenger screen’ – essentially a speedo for your partner, as if they need to know how fast you’re going.
Yet when you drive the Lusso – as close a thing Ferrari will ever get to building an SUV, because its all-wheel-drive system does allow you to take yourself and three friends to the ski slopes – it suddenly makes sense. Spacious and stylish inside, it even manages to look good from the outside, despite its shooting-brake design, and it somehow seems much smaller than it is when you throw it at tight, winding roads. Something this big and batshit mental shouldn’t really feel like a proper Ferrari, but the Lusso nails it on the head.
The 770bhp Ferrari F12 TDF is ferocious, aggressive and as unforgiving as a wronged mobster
Running hard uphill, I can see the corner in the distance. But there is still time, time for one more shift, one more opportunity to run that 6.3-litre V12 to 8900rpm, to hear and feel the 770bhp pouring from its block and heads, to listen while that sound sears through my brain.
The corner is tighter than it looks; we need the brakes and we need them now. But the Ferrari’s massive carbon discs have it covered. Hot, sticky Pirellis bite into the tarmac, shedding in an instant an unpublishable amount of speed and energy. The car angles into the turn on a trailing throttle, awaiting further instruction. My right boot needs no second invitation. I feel the power come flooding back to meet us, feel the rear tyres being taxed up to and then beyond their limit. The back eases out, but the steering is so quick that it’s rounded up before you can say ‘opposite lock’. The foot stays down, the V12 soundtrack never wavering as the F12 tdf and I rocket over the hill and far away.
That is the introduction I’d have liked to open this story. The rather less intrepid truth is as follows.
Slithering slowly uphill, I can see the corner though the mist. I’ve tried first, second and third gears and had all just dissolve in wheelspin. I’d like to run that 6.3-litre V12 to 8900rpm, to hear and feel the 770bhp pouring from its block and heads, but right now my greater concern is not binning someone else’s £339,000 Ferrari.
The corner is tighter than it looks and I’m pleased to remember that tyres unable to provide meaningful traction are unlikely to be brilliant at coping with the demands of the Ferrari’s massive carbon discs, either. Cold, hard Pirellis skip and lock across the soaking tarmac, taking an alarmingly long time to shed what few miles per hour we’ve managed to accrue. The car angles into the corner and, as soon as I’ve touched the throttle, slides. In fact, the back takes off like an artillery shell fired at right angles to the intended direction of travel. Usually I don’t like quick steering, but now I’m beyond grateful for it. Even so, it’s still over halfway through its opposite lock before the back can be harnessed and dragged back into line. My foot squeezes the throttle like it’s a perforated egg shell, the V12 soundtrack replaced by the sound of my breathing as the F12 tdf and I roll to halt in an adjacent layby to consider what might happen next.
It is possible I’ve driven a more challenging car on a wet and cold public road than the Ferrari F12 tdf, but if I have, my brain has buried the memory in one of its more remote regions. The original 993-series Porsche 911GT2, perhaps.
I thought I knew what to expect, having been warned by friends who’d driven it in the dry that the tdf was somewhat uncompromising, one being kind enough to ask me if I knew the Italian for ‘widowmaker’. Even the nice man from Ferrari had suggested the car might be somewhat sub-optimal in set-up for cold and wet conditions. But this was something else. And while I was afraid of it, so, too, did it fascinate me. How do you deal with such a proposition? Do you try to bend it to your will, or yours to its?
The F12 tdf is not like other Ferraris. And by that, I don’t just mean 488s, Californias and the like. I mean normal F12s and the LaFerrari too. For all its immense, 950bhp poke, the La Ferrari is a supremely friendly supercar, by some distance the most driver-flattering of the hypercar triumvirate. By contrast, the tdf is utterly intimidating. I know it’s hard to compare the wet roads of Wales with the frankly preferable warm and dry alternative usually on offer in Italy but, in my experience, adverse conditions tend merely to magnify traits already inherent in any car’s character.
The first thing you have to deal with is the tdf’s engine, which – and I can scarcely believe I’m about to write this – is at times in danger of being too good. The ferocity of its response at high revs in low gears is something new to me in the road car arena, its throttle mapping in its more ambitious manettino settings as sharp as an engine from a 1970s Formula 1 car. When it lights up the tyres, lit they tend to stay. The sound above 7500rpm is so hauntingly beautiful that you feel compelled to listen to it repeatedly, tempted beyond your petrolhead powers of endurance to press that pedal to the ground again and again. If you can find the traction, the acceleration feels like a concerted attempt to dislocate your shoulders.
But if the engine has a degree in naked aggression, the chassis has a doctorate in pure and applied intimidation. Those fat front tyres have a hyperactive child’s capacity to be distracted by everything that passes, tugging your hands left and right when all you want to do is go straight. Corners are far more interesting still.
One of Ferrari’s apparent aims with this car is that it should never, ever understeer, and I imagine it would need to be sideswiped by a wrecking ball before it did. The car is 20% stiffer all round than an F12 and, far more significant, has front tyres two sections wider, while those at the rear remain the same. With such a fundamental change to the car’s balance – and I don’t recall F12s exactly understeering like Tesco trolleys – you can safely assume that, come what may, the nose will find either the apex you want or, if the sheer speed and attack of the steering off-centre take you by surprise, another even earlier than that. Of course, you can leave the little manettino in its ‘wet’ setting and quell some (but not all) of the tdf’s more exhibitionist tendencies, but that’s like driving wearing oven gloves: you’ll never get a proper feel of what the car is really like.
So you turn everything off, install your heart firmly in your mouth and head off up the hill again to find out more. And you will find out how to drive this car, even in these conditions. It just takes a very long time. You learn that the top end of the rev range is simply out of bounds, the engine a siren call, luring you towards the rocks. If you’re stupid enough to insist on experiencing this car au naturel, the wheels spin up faster than your brain can react, and if you catch an edge, you’re going to need to be awfully good to catch it.
Trust the mid-range torque instead, try to relax, plan ahead and be conservative with entry speeds, positively miserly with throttle applications and quick but calm with the corrections that are an unavoidable component of driving this car this way in these conditions. Then, slowly, it comes to you. You sense acceptance from this growling, menacing monster, not even close to kinship but at least tolerance, albeit of a somewhat grudging kind. Then you can enjoy the liquid smoothness of the V12, the entirely instantaneous gearshifts, the iron-willed damping and, above all, that sense of achievement which comes not from conquering the beast, but at least reaching an accommodation with it.
To your surprise, you find yourself turning around for one last run over a mountain you’d have emigrated to avoid earlier in the day. It’s never easy and that frisson of danger is a dark and brooding presence in the cabin. Also, you must make peace with the strange conflict that comes from knowing that the best way to drive this Ferrari is with saintly restraint. Then, certain things happen. You become aware that you’re probably driving as well as you ever have on a public road and you notice that either the tdf is becoming less treacherous or you’re becoming wiser to its ways. It makes you think about each aspect of your driving, judging the likely consequence of every push, prod, nudge and press of every control. So many cars, even ultra-high-performance cars, do so much to make your life easy that it’s both alarming and intensely refreshing to find one that does not. At all. You bring your A game to the tdf or you’re better off not showing up at all.
But do you know when it’s at its absolute best? When you’ve got it home and parked it without a mark on its carbonfibre and aluminium bodywork. Then you can pour yourself a drink, sit back and replay your day in the freezing rain with a Ferrari F12 tdf. You will reflect that you achieved something and that you learned something, too: all cars need to be operated, some respond to being driven, but only the tdf leaves you with no option. Be the best that you can be or leave it in the shed.
So although I enjoyed driving the F12 tdf, that is as nothing to how much I am now enjoying having driven it. It maybe an odd way for a car to deliver on the promise of such spectacular looks and its stellar specification, but we can blame the weather for most of that. Fundamentally, I love the fact that while most Ferraris are getting easier to drive and enjoy, Ferrari still has the balls to do one that is hard. Truth is, I wanted this Ferrari to be demanding, to ask all the questions and offer all the rewards. And in all these regards, it exceeded every possible expectation.
Ferrari’s most challenging car in decades, terrifying and thrilling in equal measure
Engine: V12, 6262cc, petrol
Power: 770bhp at 8900rpm
Torque: 520lb ft at 6250rpm
Gearbox: 7-spd dual-clutch automatic
Kerb weight: 1415kg
Top speed: More than 211mph
Economy: 18.3mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 370g/km, 37%
The turbocharged V8 engine of the Ferrari California T has been fitted to theGTC4Lusso to create a new entry-level four-seater called the GTC4 Lusso T. Although it’s fundamentally the same unit, the 3.8-litre V8 engine has been reworked for the Lusso T to produce 602bhp at 7500rpm and 560lb ft of torque between 3000rpm and 5250rpm. Maximum power is 72bhp down on the regular, naturally aspirated V12 Lusso, but peak torque is actually up by 471b ft and it arrives 2750rpm earlier. As well as being the first time that Ferrari has offered a choice of two engines in a model, the GTC4 Lusso will also mark the first time that rear-wheel drive is offered alongside four-wheel drive, as found in the current V12-engined GTC4 Lusso.
A Ferrari spokesman said the new V8, rear-drive model would be 80kg lighter than the standard GTC4 Lusso, largely due to the absence of a four-wheel drive system. This brings its kerb weight down to 1840kg, and the lighter unit means 46% of the car’s weight sits over the nose, compared with 47% for the V12 model.
The GTC4 Lusso T’s dynamic control systems have been adjusted with bespoke settings for the four-wheel steering and Side Slip Control (SSC3). Its engine also uses Variable Boost Management to eliminate turbo lag and offer variable torque curves from third to seventh gears, making for more linear acceleration.
No official performance figures had been released as we went to press, but the V8 car will almost certainly add a few tenths to the V12 model’s 3.4sec 0-62mph time and fall short of its 208mph top speed. The V8 model’s look is unchanged from the V12’s both inside and out, which means that it gets Ferrari’s Dual Cockpit architecture. The dashboard features two digital screens – one for the driver and one for the passenger -to offer dual infotainment. When it arrives on road next year, the Lusso T will become the entry-level model in the GTC4 range, priced below the V12, which costs from £240.340. The model will make its world debut at the Paris motor show this week, where it will be displayed alongside the drop-top La Ferrari Aperta.
THE Ferrari GTC4 Lusso is now available with the 3.9-litre turbo V8 from the 488 GTB, and it debuts at this week’s Paris Motor Show. The entry-level GTC4 Lusso T will ditch the V12’s four-wheel-drive system in favour of a rear-driven set-up. It will retain its sibling’s rear-wheel steering system, while the dynamic control setups have been calibrated to improve responsiveness.
The newcomer promises to sprint from 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds (compared with 3.4 seconds in the V12) and hit more than 199mph flat-out. Styling wise, there is little to tell the two cars apart, although Ferrari says a unique Dual Cockpit architecture has been designed to enhance the driving experience for both driver and passenger. Prices haven’t been announced, but expect a significant saving on the VI 2’s £230,430 starting figure.
There comes a time in every photoshoot when light is fading and there’s a mad scramble to beat the sunset and capture the golden light. It doesn’t seem to matter that the photographer and I have each had two decades to get our schedule organized around the arc of the sun. Every time, however, we find ourselves scurrying to a location, hurriedly cleaning alloys or setting up lights. By sunset, we’ve usually been on the road for at least 12 hours, have probably not eaten (or eaten poorly at best), consumed too little water and tempers are fraying. Okay, the photographer is probably the most relaxed person you’ll ever meet, so it’s my temper that’s in shreds.
Today is no different, but I don’t mind one little bit. In fact, I actually encourage our mad location scramble. Today, I’ve got a Ferrari 488 GTB in which to scramble. With an hour before sunset we’ve found a location that Thomas suggests is okay but it’s too early to begin shooting. With the 488 dissipating heat behind me, I suggest we could scout around for another half an hour and still make it back here if we don’t strike gold. The bait is taken.
Cars such as the Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911 Turbo have richly deserved reputations for their cross-country pace. But dramatic advances in tyre technology and stability control systems have made cars such as the Ferrari 488 and McLaren 650S the undisputed princes of real-world pace (in the dry at least). Much like a wonder of the world, the 488’s performance really needs to be experienced before you can grasp its magnitude. Sure, you can read about the stats – which are mind blowing and which well get to in a moment – but when the twin-turbocharged V8 is fully lit and compressing the distance to the horizon with uncomfortable ferocity, crazy on-paper numbers don’t mean much. Instead, the stats are replaced by a sense of weightlessness, exhilaration and a little fear. And while the speed is all encompassing and requires complete concentration, the Ferrari doesn’t feel too big for these empty country roads, nor does it feel like it’s running away from you.
Despite the switch to forced induction, the Ferrari’s V8 still dominates proceedings, but the 488’s performance armoury is complete and operates in perfect harmony. The seven- speed gearbox ensures that not a single kilowatt or Newton metre of the engine’s controlled ferocity is wasted. With a nod to the PDK in Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS, the 488’s dual clutch is the best of its type, and therefore, the best gearbox in the world. There’s zero interruption to the engine’s outrageous power delivery, but the linearity of the V8’s swelling power mimics that of a naturally aspirated engine so that there is an ebb and flow to how the Ferrari delivers it performance.
And the performance is truly massive. With 492kW delivered at 8000rpm and 760Nm at 3000rpm, the reach of the 3902cc V8 is incredible. Like that of the California T, the 488 GTB’s torque peak is attained in seventh gear, with incrementally smaller lumps of Newton metres available as you drop down through the gearbox.
The engine still requires revs to delivers its best (as all Ferrari engines should), but the 488’s V8 does sound and feel more overtly turbocharged than that of the Cali T. Perhaps it’s the placement of the engine over your shoulder, but you’re more aware of the spooling turbos in the 488 than the front- engined California, and the mid-range shove is on another plain. And yet, just like that in the naturally aspirated 458 Italia, the 488’s engine encourages you to hold onto gears until the shift lights quick-march across the top of the steering wheel. It treads a near-perfect middle ground between the serrated brilliance of the 458 Italia and the more obviously turbocharged likes of the McLaren 650S and Porsche 911 Turbo.
The 488’s outputs exceed those of the Ferrari Enzo, though the Enzo used a naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 to achieve its 485kW and 660Nm. But in little over a decade, the march of performance has been extraordinary. Today’s entry-level Ferrari supercar is faster and more powerful than the brand’s rangetopping hypercar one generation removed.
The Enzo was good for a 3.7-second 0-100km/h sprint while the 488 eats up the same benchmark in three flat. Beyond the increasingly out-dated 0-100km/h stat, the 488 continues to pile on speed at a rate that most quick cars struggle to match from 50- lOOkm/h. To 200km/h the 488 takes just 8.3 seconds – two seconds quicker than the Enzo or a current Porsche 911 Turbo S.
Even around Ferrari’s hallowed Fiorano circuit, the new car shows the Enzo a clean pair of hooves with a 1:23 lap time – 1.9 seconds faster than the Enzo. Perhaps even more significant, the 488 GTB is half a second quicker than the track-focused 458 Speciale (a car that we revere).
Only the Enzo’s 350km/h top speed claws back some pride for the older generation. Given the vmax boasting that took place on Italian supercar spec sheets during the 1970s and early 1980s, the ‘330km/h-plus’ claim for the GTB seems demure. Given the way that the 488 storms beyond 250km/h without pausing for breath, we’re certain that the ‘plus’ is a significant number but it probably wouldn’t be enough to give the 488 a clean- sweep over the Enzo.
Dusk on a narrow strip of country road isn’t the place to verify the Ferrari’s top speed, but the 488 eats up the challenge of the topography as readily as a top-shelf hot hatch might. Never has such performance been so readily deployable.
The sun is sinking fast, we’re not striking location gold and the photographer is calling a set of staccato pace notes. “Wait, wait, no, no good, go, go, go!” It’s a point-and-shoot drive with no flow, but the Ferrari responds to his calls with such speed that it feels like the information isn’t being filtered through me, and yet I’m still right at the centre of the action.
“Like the Speciale, it combines the best of the analogue and digital worlds”
And that’s probably the 488 GTB’s greatest achievement. Like the Speciale, it combines the best of the analogue and digital worlds. The car is laden with tech, and the ESC and Side Slip Control (SSC) are probably the best examples of the analogue and digital worlds working in harmony. Having debuted on the already legendary 458 Speciale, SSC is now into its second generation here on the 488. Stay on top of the car with fast but smooth inputs and SSC and ESC will allow the Ferrari to move around both under power and on trailing throttle. Get clumsy with a panicked or inexperience stab of lock, or unsettle the car by abruptly jumping from the throttle to the brake, and the systems will guide you with a firmer hand. And in further testimony to the linearity of the engine’s power deliver, it’s only after the ESC has softened the throttle that you find any hint of lag.
It used to be that safety systems were calibrated to the lowest common denominator, and to have any fun, the experienced driver would have to fly solo. For me, I’d rarely move the 488’s manettino from its Race or CT off positions unless I was showboating on a track. If I were after a lap time, however, Race or CT off would be the modes for me.
On these roads, Race is the default and I’ve knocked the suspension back to bumpy road mode. In general, the 488 feels more tense than the 458 Italia but I’d never call it harsh, even around Sydney’s urban jungle. In bumpy road mode (I love the honesty of this setting), the body control remains superb. There’s more movement, sure, but there’s no fear of grounding the nose into compressions. And the extra travel of the suspension gives you a better chance to judge how hard the chassis is working and where you are inside the grip envelope. SSC is constantly juggling damper response to balance understeer and oversteer.
Like all modern Ferraris, the GTB’s steering is lightning quick and takes a few corners of acclimatisation. I’ve always found Ferrari steering wheels to be a size too big, but I’m sure this helps calm the rate of response and after a few kilometres, you begin wishing that every car had response like this. Despite the dizzying speed of the 488 GTB, the chassis always feels calm and gives yjou time to make minor adjustments even if the torque has overwhelmed the rear grip and you’ve got a mid-engined car tripping into oversteer.
The sun has set and it’s time to pack up and go in search of food before we begin our three-hour commute back to Sydney. With the tension and pressure taken out of the day, it’s a chance to assess the Ferrari’s more mundane talents. The ease with which a 492kW, $600,000 (with options) supercar slinks across the Blue Mountains and back to Sydney is almost as impressive as what happens when you hold the throttle pedal all the way down. Despite the hour, Sydney’s Friday-night traffic is still heaving but if it were not for its looks, the Ferrari would slip through without a fuss.
It’s nearly midnight when the bug-splattered Ferrari is tucked up in bed and I can do the same. All day, I’ve tried not to compare the 488 to the 458 Speciale as it’s an unfair comparison to both cars. A hardcore version of the 488 will surely come with more grip from sticky tyres and more power from an engine that feels completely unstressed as it delivers nearly 500kW. If that car can make a similar leap from the GTB as the 458 Speciale did from the Italia, it will likely be the greatest performance car the world has ever seen. But right now, the 488 GTB feels like more than enough. In terms of outright performance, accessibility to that performance and general usability, the 488 GTB moves the goal posts to another held. Though it doesn’t crackle with excitement like the Speciale, the poise and agility of the new car are unmatched. I’m a card-carrying member of the NA Preservation Society, but the switch to turbocharging hasn’t ruined the 488 GTB. And that is enough to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
Engine: 3902cc V8, dohc, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 492kW @ 8000rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3000rpm (in seventh gear)
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, rear-wheel drive, E-Diff3, Fl-Trac, SSC2
Front suspension: Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
Brakes: Carbon-ceramic discs, 398mm front, 360mm rear, ABS, EBD
Wheels: 20 x 9.0-inch front, 20 x 11.0-inch rear
Tyres: 245/35 ZR20 front, 305/30 ZR20 rear
0-100km/h: 3.0sec (claimed)
Top speed: 330km/h+ (claimed)
Basic price: $469,988
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
If the new turbo V8s are phenomenal in terms of performance, fuel economy, emissions and flexibility, the melody of a V12 Made in Ma- ranello is the soundtrack that you would like to hear every single day of your life. A sincere and deep cry that increases in intensity as the tachometer approaches its red line – tighten a steering wheel with the Prancing Horse and have a twelve-cylinder pumping music into your ears is an experience that you can only live just like the Drake himself always said, the immortal Commendatore Enzo Ferrari.
These 9 cars are only some of the best musical instruments that Maranello has created before the end of the 70s, where the mechanical intimacy and driving purity host and mark a deep furrow between amateur drivers and real men, those who with that typical Italian style complemented the classic stereotype of the perfect “Ferrarista”, kissed by the sun and by life. A V12 is priceless and we are sure that despite the impressive steps in engineering and the constant improvement in performance, a veritable supercar will always have a soul fed by a V12, ready to beat fast and give moments that will be carved in the heart of each of its lucky owner. These are treasures to be preserved, but also objects to be enjoyed, allowing them to shout loud, gunning ’em right before entering into a series of corners, where the relationship between the chassis, suspension, brakes and gearbox, will do the rest and will bestow automobiles Nirvana.
1. FERRARI 166 INTER FARINA BERLINETTA (1948)
This is the first Ferrari to showcase a 2-liter VI2. It was a great success that helped fueling the prestige of the brand, especially for its important sales in America, and of course several versions finished by famous names such as Pininfarina, Bertone and Touring were produced. Its lines are immortal, like those of a beautiful fastback coupe, while up front, the allaluminum engine transmitted its 90hp to the rear axle through a 5-speed manual transmission. It weighed less than a ton and had a proper passion for racing.
2. FERRARI 250 CALIFORNIA (1957)
Iconic as the Colosseum, but definitely faster! The 250 California was the deserved result of the incredible successes in motorsport, which led to further strengthen the brand in the States. Beautiful like California and being the ultimate car for a drive along the Pacific coast with the wind in your hair, it has become one of the best symbol for Ferrari. The design is the work of master Scaglietti and looks like an elegant GT, then available with long wheelbase (LWB) and short wheelbase (SWB). Being able to drive without a roof over the head it did nothing but increase the pleasure of driving, listening to the melody coming from the 2953 liter VI2 and its 240hp located in front of the driver and his passenger. Needless to say that the current quotes are worthy of a real work of art.
3. FERRARI 250 TESTAROSSA (1957)
The Testarossa is not only a symbol of elegance and style, but of sportiness. In fact, the ’57 250 TR was born for the need to offer a more powerful engine to the team that were racing with the 500 TRC, while remaining in line with the FIA rules that limited the size of the engine to 3 liters. The TR 250 offered 300 horses and was able to reach a maximum speed of 270 per hour. Invariably it won the manufacturer’s title the very following year.
4. FERRARI 400 SUPER AMERICA (1960)
This model was Ferraris answer to the demands of its most demanding customers. An exceptional response, both in terms of design and mechanics. It was produced in two series between 1960 and 1964, with also different convertible variants, all designed by the pencil of Pininfarina. The VI2 rises to 4li- ter and 340hp, with a 4-speed gearbox with overdrive, stiffer suspension and an improved chassis, all in favor of a performance boost, without any sacrifice for on boards comfort.
5. FERRARI 250 GTO (1962)
If cars were books, the 250 GTO would be the Bible. Cult model for any fan of the four wheels, the 250 GTO is the pinnacle of Maranello’s motorsport success embodied in the elegant and sophisticated dress designed by Giotto BizzarrinI’s team. A powerful 300hp VI2 under the muscular bonnet, driving seats almost on the rear axle and a hatchback that embraces the driver with a single movement. The transmission is a new 5-speed usable by an open-gate g’box, undisputed trademark that bluntly connected the racing spirit of this GT for the road to the models that on Sunday tore the competition on track. One of the cars that has deeply left an indelible mark in the world of motorsport and for road cars too, only 36 were produced and we would give a kidney to drive one!
6. FERRARI 250 LM (1963)
The history of the 250 LM is more troubled than you might think, because after its presentation at the 1963 Paris Motor Show, as a berlinetta version of the 250 P prototype, FIA refused to homologate it as a GT, thus forcing Ferrari to place it right in the prototypes’ championship, drastically reducing its chances of success. The V12 differed little from that of the model from which it took origin, with a 3285cc which was capable of delivering 320hp and push it up to almost 290 kph.
7. FERRARI 275 GTB4 (1966)
At the 1966 Paris Motor Show, the GTB4 showcased itself as the very first Ferrari with a V12 with 4 overhead camshafts, close relative of the engine that powered the P2 prototype. The lines of this 275 are more generous than before, so its overall dimensions make it an exceptional grand tourer. No special versions targeted for use in racing were in program this time, but various clients and fans did not kept it away from the curbs or from other kind of races, even getting a fair number of successes. This revolutionary V12 developed a maximum output of 300hp out of its 3285cc and offered performance worthy of its blazon.
8. FERRARI 365 GTB4 (1968)
Here is the Daytona, one of the milestones in the wide Ferrari almanac. Heir to the 275 GTB4 and with avant- garde solutions for what concerned its pure sports car performance, and for its design, once again courtesy of Pininfarina. Under the guise of a modern two-seater with a long pointed nose and a tail so different than any model of contemporary production, a roaring 4.4 V12 outputs 352hp, which combined with a precise 5-speed gearbox, was and still is perfectly able to offer the lucky driver a priceless driving experience. The roar of the V12 gets stronger with the spider version and with top down, but the silhouette of the coupe is a myth that does not fear any comparison, not even the passing of time.
9. FERRARI 512BB (1976)
5-liter, 12-cylinder, Berlinetta Boxer – here is revealed the mystery of the intricate name of the car unveiled by Ferrari at the 1976 Paris Motor Show. The new engine with horizontally opposed cylinders, was immediately recognized as a good choice, since it was able to deliver the same power but at a lower revs, and then counting on a higher torque and on a more precise and linear delivery. Pininfarina took charge of the design once again, where we can’t but mentioning the various intakes, functional to cool mechanical parts and especially useful to breathe the engine at the back. The classic styles of the ‘80s were coming, but the 512 BB line has magically managed to carve out a place among the best cars from Maranello, identifying the best and purest supercar image. The interior is spare and minimalist, all focused on what really matters, the need to squeeze the 360hp available.
When the alarm dock rings before the rooster wakes up, it means that the day is going to be pretty special. Many were waiting for the month of September for their holidays, some because a song of Green Day says that – I was because I have an appointment in Maranello, at Ferrari HQ, where the new California T Handling Speciale is waiting for me being at disposal for an entire day. Its about a bunch of intense hours carefully planned with several details, allowing photographers to do their job, but also providing a test that is able to give me all the necessary feedbacks for being able to give my humble opinion on the first turbocharged product that spots the Prancing Horse on its bonnet, since the acclaimed F40.
The journey to Maranello runs smooth and shortly before leaving the motorway we behold the sun rise, a prelude to a warm late summer day. Entering in the homeland of Enzo Ferrari, every angle of the town speaks of passion for the “Rossa”, every house, every intersection – we are in the heart of the Italian motor valley, where it all began and where the supercar par excellence breathe deeply, in an almost surreal atmosphere, as you get closer to Via Abetone Inferiore. We go through the gates, and we are immediately greeted by the press office that does not waste any time and illustrates in detail the path traveled from the first series of the new generation of California, through the new T, until the Handling Speciale, which would soon be all for me.
If you say California I immediately think of a wonderful coast that kisses the ocean, a blue water invaded by surfers and swimmers that seem to come out of a classic American TV series. Sun, wind and freedom. The original 250 California was just that and was commissioned specifically to meet an ever-growing desire for Ferrari in the stars and stripes market. It was a global success and various versions followed for what is probably the most iconic roadster in the world, then and now, after almost 60 years.
In the second half of 2008, a 2+2 with a front V8 has been released, but with a folding hard top and also in this case sales gave reason to Ferrari, who scored a major achievement, winning customers who absolutely does not want to give up the possibility to drive a purebred supercar and therefore opt for this great grand tourer. Performance and handling are however not comparable to those of the F430 (mid engine two-seater in production in the same period) and very often, this “Cali” has been labeled as a girly model. Its been seven years, and California has risen with a letter more. The “T”, which stands for turbo, is here to point out how things have radically changed.
When the Ferrari California first launched in 2008, it earned some pretty mixed reviews. While its name harked back to the classic VI 2-powered open-top machines of the sixties, the fact it had an electric folding hard-top, front-mounted V8 and rear-drive configuration raised questions as to whether it was a genuine Ferrari.
Then the introduction of the California T in 2014 saw the first twin-turbo engine to feature in a Ferrari road car since the F40.
Now the firm has added a new Handling Speciale package to the California T, which aims to provide a more involving drive. Ferrari fans trying to spot an HS will have a few visual clues to help them out; there’s a dark grey finish for the grille, rear diffuser and exhaust tips, and if you get close enough, there’s a special plaque in the cockpit between the front seats. But the big changes for the Handling Speciale are reserved for under the skin.
Mechanical upgrades include stiffer springs that enhance the California T’s handling, while the standard magnetic dampers have been upgraded to speed up their responses, too. These settings are unlocked when you move the manettino switch on the steering wheel to Sport mode, plus the exhaust has been retuned to deliver a more vocal response when you prod the throttle.
Fire up the twin-turbo V8, and the exhaust’s new tone is instantly recognisable, with a bassy rumble emanating from the exhaust tips. Prod the throttle, and the flat-plane crank of the V8 means it’s soon replaced by a familiar zing only a Ferrari V8 can produce. The exhaust adds some extra enjoyment to the California driving experience, too.
While the car is on the firm side, in Comfort mode it’s more than just bearable. Put it into Sport and the extra firmness is evident, but the bumpy road setting for the dampers means it’s the best of both worlds, with taut body control and a more secure feeling in corners.
“Biggest compliment you can pay the California T is that it really is the Ferrari you can drive every day”
The steering is also given extra weight, but while the California doesn’t have the light, darting feel of the 488 GTB’s, it provides enough feedback to place the car accurately on the tarmac. The chassis generates plenty of grip, too, and the California is great fun to get around corners ready for the V8 engine to fire the car along the next straight. There’s no lag from the twin-turbo set-up, and while its responses are rather lethargic in full auto and Comfort modes, the HS package delivers rapid and seamless shifts in Sport mode.
The result is a car that feels quick and alert on twisting back roads, yet can be dialled back to become a fast and relaxing grand tourer. Plus, it has the added bonus of top-down driving when the weather permits.
Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay the Ferrari California T is that while it doesn’t deliver the pure driving thrills of a 488 GTB, or the sheer excitement of an F12 Berlinetta, it really is the Ferrari you can drive every day.
Shelling out an extra £5,568 for the Handling Speciale package doesn’t compromise its all-round ability, but it gives it more dynamism and appeal when you do want to make the most of its performance. For most potential buyers, it’s an extra that is well worth upgrading to.
California T is a genuine 2+2, as the back seats are barely big enough for small children, let alone anybody else. Headroom is also tight in the rear when the roof is up.
As well as a unique plaque and dark grey exterior trim, the Handling Speciale pack brings upgrades to the springs, magnetic dampers and the exhaust system.
Some people may deride the California T for not being a ‘proper’ Ferrari, but upgrading to the Handling Speciale package goes some way to redeeming it. While it’s still more of a drop-top grand tourer than an all-out sports car, the tweaks mean it’s more rewarding to drive without sacrificing its GT sensibilities.
Ferrari California T Handling Speciale
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo v8
Transmission: Seven-speed DCT, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 196mph
ON SALE: Now
NEED TO KNOW
Handling Speciale pack has springs that are 16 per cent stiffer at front and 19 per cent at back.
THE new GTC4 Lusso is a heavily reworked version of Ferrari’s old FF.
It’s still a 4WD four-seater, but the car has a higher-tech cabin and looks more focused, yet prettier. And instead of a turbo, the Lusso has a naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12.
The V12 carbon-fiber Enzo is a million-dollar wild child and the most flamboyant Ferrari ever. Good for 226 mph (364 km/h) and capable of 0–100 mph (0–161 km/h) in only 6.6 seconds, the initial production run of 349 units was completely sold out before a single car ever got near a showroom. Ferrari was forced to build another 50 just to please a line of desperate buyers.
A used Ferrari 456 is one of the world’s great supercar bargains. For the price of a new, hot Ford Focus you can have a beautiful 186 mph (300 km/h) grand tourer that’s also a reliable and practical full four seater. Strong and capable with a fine ride and a glorious V12 engine, the 456 is a definite neoclassic.
The Testarossa was never one of Modena’s best efforts. With its enormous girth and overstuffed appearance, it perfectly sums up the Eighties credo of excess. As soon as it appeared on the world’s television screens in Miami Vice, the Testarossa, or Redhead, became a symbol of everything that was wrong with a decade of rampant materialism and greed. The Testarossa fell from grace rather suddenly.
The first Ferrari ever offered with automatic transmission, the 400 was aimed at the American market, and was meant to take the prancing horse into the boardrooms of Europe and the US. But the 400’s automatic box was a most un-Ferrarilike device, a lazy three-speed GM Turbo-Hydramatic also used in Cadillac, Rolls-Royce, and Jaguar.