If you own a Ferrari, you sometimes get sick of driving. Turn up to a birthday party or a barbeque and you literally have to spend hours giving people joyrides, one by one, when you’d rather be eating burgers. Or trying to fully savour the jealousy of your ex, who’s now married to a Hyundai-driving estate agent in Surbiton. Because everyone wants to experience a Ferrari. Even old flames.
This could be why the original Ferrari FF, the four-seat, four-wheel drive (FF? Geddit?) has been such a hit since its launch in 2011. Those who’d never thought a Ferrari remotely viable now found themselves behind the wheel of the firm’s most practical car ever, telling everyone in earshot that the rear seats are so roomy you can “sit behind yourself”, and at 450 litres, the boot’s actually bigger than a Volkswagen Golf.
A stonking-great 6.3-litre V12 engine howled and wailed and went incomprehensibly fast, while four-wheel drive did its best to keep you on the straight and narrow, no matter what the weather. It was Ferrari’s Carlsberg-style family runabout, with only one minor issue. It wasn’t very pretty. Different, certainly, but not quite the beguiling beauty rich people with two teenage children who have friends to impress dream about.
Cue the GTC4Lusso, Ferrari’s thoroughly updated FF, a car that retains all the practicality and usability of its predecessor, but adds elegant new styling and a quite fantastic new interior (complete with a dedicated instrument pack for passengers, so they can watch how fast they’re going with a horrified expression). It’s oh-so premium, packed with gorgeous details and lavished in boutique-style leather. The seats are more purposeful than almost anything you’ll have sat on before, and just holding that flat-bottomed steering wheel, yellow prancing horse roundel facing you, is impossibly thrilling.
The crowd that’s gathered is egging you on: go on, start it. Press that red button on the steering wheel. A whir and a throb and something borderline religious floods you in noise and excitement. There’s still nothing to beat a Ferrari V12 and, while there’s oil still in the planet, we should embrace it. All the more so now Ferrari’s decided 660hp wasn’t enough and duly given the GTC4Lusso 690hp. Delivered at 8,250rpm. At which point, you’ll have tears in your eyes, so divine is it.
The 0-62mph sprint takes just 3.4 seconds, which, because it has grippy four-wheel drive, and a paddleshift gearbox, and launch control, is ridiculously easy to experience (or demonstrate to others). All those cylinders will fly you on to 208mph if you’re in Germany, and this latest version even has a heap more pulling power, so it’s quick and scary even if you’re feeling lazy.
Not that you’re ever likely to be. This car’s addictive. It’s totally wired. The ultra-fast steering takes an age to get used to, but once you key into it, this big four-seater is as agile as a racing car, helping you take the most idiotic liberties if you so wish. A 1.9-tonne behemoth really shouldn’t pull off the tricks the GTC4Lusso does.
Only intermittently will you resist the thrill and sit back in cruise mode, enjoying the smoother ride, GT confidence, low noise levels and general sense of well-being that makes it such a compelling sporting rival to a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Ferrari has nailed it this time. Yes, the interior is an achingly wonderful place to spend time in, and the new infotainment systems are as proddable as an iPad, but its sheer intensity of speed now means the vast majority of people will be begging you to let them out so they can have a stiff drink, ashen faces dissuading others in the queue from asking you for a ride. Bingo: enjoy your burger and flaunt your fantastic new Ferrari with even more pride.
Richard Aucock works for motoringresearch.com