There’s a widely held belief that Italian police take a relaxed view of Ferraris being driven the way nature intended. It’s a story perpetuated by dozens of automotive journalists, all of whom have tales of being egged on by the local Carabinieri while behind the wheel of Maranello’s latest creations.
Unfortunately, I discovered it’s nothing more than an urban myth roughly five minutes into my test drive of the new Ferrari GTC4Lusso T. I pulled out to overtake a line of traffic and spotted, too late, a SEAT Leon with blue lights hiding amongst it. My heart sank as I clocked him, he clocked me, then he invited me to stop for a chat.
My sub-par Italian didn’t even stretch as far as ‘scusa’, a word that’s now permanently etched into my brain for the next time I have an encounter with Italian plod. My understanding of the Italian way of doing things stretched as far as opening the driver’s door and gesturing the police officer to take a seat while his colleague inspected my driving licence.
Incredibly direct steering means it’ll dart around like a terrier of a hot hatch
He rebuffed my attempts at trying to impress him with the £200,000 Ferrari GTC4Lusso T. But, as he started to understand why exactly this daft Brit was hooning around Tuscany in a Ferrari, Signore Stern started to relax a little. Perhaps things were going to be OK.
Then he asked to see under the bonnet. This could be an issue. You see, the GTC4Lusso T is a watered-down version of the standard GTC4Lusso. Rather than a honking-great naturally aspirated V12, it’s powered by a twin-turbo V8. It’s the sort of thing that traditionalists hate, and could irritate the Italian rozzers even more than my dodgy overtaking.
I tried to distract him by directing him towards the interior once more. It’s a genuine four-seater, meaning he could take his family away for the weekend and not have to leave the kids at home.
There’s a big, red start button on the steering wheel, alongside a dial that lets you select various driving modes, including comfort, sport and, for sadists, a mode that switches off all the various traction aids.
I pointed at the rear wheels, explaining that it has rear-wheel drive, like a proper Ferrari. Not four-wheel drive like the £30,000 more expensive GTC4Lusso. That means, if you turn the dial to ‘ESC off’, you can use Ferrari’s latest Side Slip Control to go sideways. On track, of course, officer.
Having succeeded in directing PC Stern away from the engine, he was now sat in the cabin having his picture taken by his colleague. Before long, I was on my way, keeping the revs low (it’s quieter below 3,500rpm) and trying to be a bit more cautious this time.
Half an hour later, I’d forgotten about my close shave and was discovering just how much of a genuine sports car the GTC4Lusso T really is. Incredibly direct steering means it’ll dart around like a terrier of a hot hatch, while on twisty roads it feels much smaller than it actually is. The performance is incredible, too – good enough, in fact, to make you question why you’d possibly want the V12.
I was having a great time, until I came over the brow of a hill to see two police officers at the side of the road having a chat with a local. They heard me coming, abandoned one lucky Fiat Stilo driver, and it was time to practise my British charm all over again. Scusa.