My favourite Ferrari.
One of the reasons I love being a car enthusiast is the great variety of automobiles we have the opportunity to fall in love with, no matter how crazy or bizarre these cars might appear to others. I come to you today because I have joined the ranks of loving an unusual supercar and now I am going to blather on about how much I adore this vehicle. I hear the tension rising what car could it be, a quirky 1963 Fiat 500, an East German Trabant? No, the supercar I love is the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T. It is a radical Ferrari that does not enjoy as much love as other Ferraris, however I am here to tell you that it is a magnificent grand tourer, that is fast, agile, full of character and most controversial of all we have the world’s first truly practical Ferrari. Seriously.
Ferrari has taken up the challenge by offering the Lusso with not one but two engine choices. The first version the GTC4 Lusso retains the V12 engine and the all-wheel drive previously offered on the FF, while upgrading the horsepower to 680hp. The second engine choice comes in the form of a 3.9L V8 twin turbocharged engine that ditches the all-wheel drive system to become rear wheel drive only. This optional diet loses one hundred and twenty pounds thus increasing the rear weight bias from 54 percent to 53 percent. Most importantly for thrifty Ferrari purchasers it saves you $40,000. It’s always good to have choices.
When Ferrari North America kindly offered me a four day 375-mile jaunt with a Lusso T in Los Angeles I was beside myself with excitement at the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with the successor to my beloved FF. One key goals of my L.A. drive was to find some truly inspiring roads to test the mettle of the Lusso T. With this mind I made the decision to make my base in Malibu in order to be near a horde of magical canyon roads. I was conscious to avoid one of the more infamous Malibu roads, The Snake, which on any given Sunday is overrun with cars and motorbikes. Along with the crowds of onlookers who come to watch the parade and yes accidents, are the vigilant officers of the California Highway Patrol who I was most keen to avoid.
For this trip I was joined by my long-time friend Saverio, who would act as my stalwart companion, camera assistant and navigator. He was not a big fan of the Lusso T to begin which balanced out my enthusiasm and made me think seriously about some of his criticisms of the car and whether I agreed with them. It was also an opportunity to see if the Lusso T could convert my friend to appreciating this unconventional Ferrari.
Naturally we arrived to a sunny and warm Los Angeles. A 45-minute cab later deposited us outside the main Ferrari service centre where we would pick up our Lusso T. It’s always fun to visit the service centre as it gives me a chance to see a whole bunch of Ferraris and occasionally see some rare Ferraris. On this day we were treated to two Ferrari Enzo’s in the service bay. Our Argento (silver) liveried Lusso T sat waiting for us between 2 Ferraris 488’s. Ferrari describes the interior as a Bordeaux colour scheme. When I showed my wife a picture of the interior she immediately observed that it looked like the colour of Deadpool’s costume, you can decide for yourself, but I think my wife was spot on.
Our Ferrari Lusso T was listed at $347,930 (US), and included a host of options including the $20,249 panoramic glass roof, Apple Carplay ($4,219), adaptive headlights ($3,037), and the optional 8.8 inch multi functional touchscreen for the front passenger to observe a variety of parameters. The 20 inch Diamond forged rims came in at $8,100. The suspension lifter cost $6,750. This is not including the swathes of carbon fibre finishing in the cockpit. All in all we had a rather well optioned Ferrari for this adventure.
The cockpit of the Lusso T has been refreshed from that of the FF, however Ferraris continue to sport a plethora of control buttons. The dash is divided into three screens, with tachometer in the centre and two configurable screens to either side. The steering wheel replicates that of Formula One steering wheels with a host of command functions, the most important being the red manettino dial that allows the driver to switch between various engine modes. The large apple Carplay infotainment screen is a prominent addition to the Ferrari cockpit. The passenger gets the 8.8 inch multi-functional touch screen. My wife rather liked this option on the Ferrari 488 spider that we tested last year.
So does this practical Ferrari have any luggage space? Saverio and I immediately got to test the luggage compartment of the Lusso T which can be opened rather handily from the Ferrari fob key. The trunk is a decent size though if I’m honest it would be better to maximise the available space with squish-able bags rather than rigid suitcases. I recall Evo Magazine’s Editor Harry Metcalf taking his family on a trip from England to the Italian Alps in an FF and totally filling the trunk to the brim with various bags. The backseats of the Lusso T also serves as a handy place to store gear, or groceries. In short you can handily pack for a weekend getaway with the Lusso T.
Ah yes, a Ferrari with rear seats that can accommodate a full-sized adult. The panoramic glass roof eliminates any feeling of claustrophobia one might have sitting in these seats. At $20,249 the panoramic roof is an expensive option, but it’s a box I would tick as it gives the cabin a spacious feeling. It would certainly make longer journeys in the rear seats much more bearable. As for the rear seats I tried sitting in them and I found them comfortable and supportive. For a true test I stuck my friend Saverio in the back while we went for a drive. I am happy to say he survived his back seat ride and almost enjoyed the experience, weirdly he found his back seat far more comfortable than the front seat.
The most frustrating element of the Lusso T would have to be the navigation system which could do with a bit of a rework. Punching in your destination often required knowledge of the area you were going, as in Malibu, Hollywood west, for example. On the road the soothing instructional female voice often gave us instructions that were a little too late or misidentified streets altogether. In a pinch we resorted to google maps which ended up being much quicker and more accurate. While the navigation system is a far from perfect system it is by no means a deal breaker as you will be having way to much fun driving the Ferrari Lusso T.
The Malibu region of Los Angeles conjures up images of great beach front property and the opening credits from the hit TV series Two and a Half Men. Equally synonymous are the properties adorning the Malibu hills and within those hills lay the perfect set of canyon roads to test out the handling qualities of a Ferrari. A little internet research had provided information on what areas to avoid (the Snake) and what roads might be free of traffic.
This particular Saturday was the best day I have ever spent behind the wheel of a supercar on public roads. Why you ask, it was simply the best combination of challenging canyons roads combined with the performance and handling of the Ferrari Lusso T. We headed out from our base in Thousand Oaks around 10am not really sure what state of traffic we might find at that time on a Saturday morning. The answer was none, our biggest worry was avoiding early morning cyclists. Our day began on Mulholland Highway, a teasing strip of asphalt that allowed us to open up the taps a little and see what 602hp felt like in the Lusso T (the Lusso T is capable of hitting 199mph). The Lusso T lacks oral excitement below 4500rpm, but after that the harmonic rumble will leave you wanting to keep the rev counter permanently above 4500rpm.
We turned off Mulholland highway onto Stunt road, a back road devoid of traffic deliciously filled with curvaceous tarmac. On this road the Lusso T showed off its handling capabilities, which were more akin to a sports car than a grand tourer. The ability of Ferrari engineers to disguise the weight and length of this car is nothing less than engineering genius. Ferrari steering wheels feel very light, which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have gotten so used to them over the past few years that I cannot conceive of driving a Ferrari without this type of steering. All the power in the world is useless without terrific stopping power and this the Lusso T has in abundance. The danger in these canyons are small rockslides by the side of the road and mud (it actually rained the previous night), which could easily damage a tire or worse send you down a canyon without any control. I was mindful of the words of Jedi Master Yoda to Luke Skywalker, “control you must learn control”.
The first part of our exhilarating drive came to a rather abrupt end as we reached the top of Stunt Road and prepared to turn onto Schueren Road we were engulfed in fog. We slowed down to a crawl as we could not see more than a few feet in front of us. It gave us time to reflect on the drive thus far. I felt so alive, the adrenaline was pumping and I was in love with the performance of the Lusso T. The fog abated allowing us to transition onto Piuma road, an equally sumptuous road with more tests for the Lusso T only this time we were heading downhill.
We took a small respite at Malibu Canyon overlook to catch our breath, and take in the fine vista. I must commend Saverio for some fine video and camera work. The overlook is also known as the David M Brown Overlook. David was a conservationist who was instrumental in preventing this area being turned into a highway and preserving the area as public parkland.
Resuming our rally car run we continued along Piuma Road eventually reconnecting with Mulholland Highway which took us at long last down to the Pacific coast Highway. Miles and miles of breaking surf was our companion as we headed along the highway at a serine 55mph proving the Lusso T can hustle it with the best supercars and then mellow out as a grand tourer on the highway. Our final destination was NAS Point Mugu Missile Park, home appropriately enough to a historical display of missiles used by the US Navy. As an extra treat we had two gate guardians in the form of a McDonald Douglas F-4 Phantom and a Pete “Maverick” Mitchel’s Grumman F-14 Tomcat from Top Gun. I am an aviation enthusiasts and I love teaming up my test supercars together with plane. Last year I took a Ferrari 488 spider to meet the famous Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird at the Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale. California sunsets are rather beautiful so we spent sunset with the Lusso T at the Missile Park.
Sunday was mostly highway driving, not my favourite activity while in L.A. as it tends to test my patience. Driving on the 101 at least allowed me to drive the Lusso T at a steady pace. One essential device to engage was the bumpy road button on the steering wheel to help smooth out the ruinous state of California highways. The Lusso T benefits from a set of tongue twisting engineering acronyms: E-Diff (electronically actuated differential), Side Slip Control (yaw rate), F1 TRAC (traction control), ESP 9.0 (stability control) and SCM-E (magnetorheological dampers). All these systems combine seamlessly enabling the driver to simply enjoying driving this magnificent car.
Marvelling at all this Ferrari technology made for the perfect transition to our next destination, Elon Musk’s SpaceX located on (I kid you not) Rocket Road in Hawthorne. I had to get a picture of the Lusso T and the first successful reusable rocket produced by SpaceX, the Falcon 9. Seeing Falcon 9 in person gives you a much great appreciation for the scale of the rocket and the landing legs in particular. Sadly we did not catch a glimpse of Elon Musk.
Our time with the Lusso was drawing to a close, it had whisked us from the Getty Villa to the Griffith Park Observatory, up and down the Canyons of Malibu in safety, and comfort so now was the time to answer a few questions. One – how did the Lusso T measure up as a Ferrari, and two would I buy this car myself if money was no object.
At no time did I not feel that the Lusso T was not a Ferrari. For many the styling will remain an issue, being a hatchback and all that, for me I love the look of the Lusso T, some of the harsher lines of the FF have been smoothed out. From the moment you get inside the car even one with a Deadpool interior) you know you are in a Ferrari. I love the lightly weighted steering which always conveyed a sense of control over the car, allied to this was the performance and power of the V8 made me want to keep on driving forever.
I would be lying if I said the V8 gave me the same audiogasm as the V12 in the FF. To get the aural drama out of the V8 twin turbo you need to work the rev range beyond 4500rpm and then you get sweet beautiful music. I did manage to find a tunnel to engage my audio delight. The Lusso T will give you all the driving enjoyment of the V12 Lusso. The power delivery from the V8 is smooth, as the 7spd dual clutch works effortlessly in auto or in manual. I stayed in manual for my canyon driving and boy did I enjoy taking control of the gears through those canyons. As for the four wheel drive I found the seamless integration of the E-DIFF, Side Slip, F1TRAC and ESP 9.0 into the rear wheel drive did not make me miss the all-wheel drive system at all.
I would buy this car in a heartbeat. I would argue that the Lusso T is the perfect practical everyday Ferrari, Even my friend Saverio came around to seeing the practical side of the Ferrari Lusso T. Now for some that may be a heretical statement and detract from the specialness of a Ferrari. For me the Lusso T will always be a Ferrari, it drives like a Ferrari, it handles like a Ferrari, sounds like a Ferrari, only now it is a truly useful Ferrari in addition to being a thoroughbred grand touring machine.
Not everyone will agree with my assessment, however as I said earlier this is my unique car, the one that divides opinion and is a source of discussion. It would be a rather dull world if we all liked the same cars. I spent 4 glorious days with the Ferrari Lusso T and I am still buzzing with joy from of driving this unique automobile.