Over the years I’ve had the chance to sample numerous exotics hailing from Italy, Germany, the U.K., and even America, but Ferrari had managed to elude my grasp. This fall I was presented with the opportunity to drive not just my first Ferrari, but the most unusual model the automaker has ever built: the 2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso.
Engine: 6.3-liter V12
Output: 680 hp, 514 lb-ft
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual Clutch Transmission
0-60 Time: 3.4 seconds
Top Speed: 208 MPH
Starting Price (USD): $304,750
Starting Price (CAD): $349,558
This four-seat, all-wheel-drive grand tourer has had a divisive impact on fans of the famed sports car builder, and I was more than curious to see how it held up against a very competitive set of ultra-luxury challengers.
Check out these five things I learned while driving the Ferrari GTC4Lusso.
It Didn’t Snap My Head Back
How strange is it to pin the throttle in a car with 680 horsepower that doesn’t immediately make you feel like you should be reaching for your heart pills? I can tell you it’s even more unusual when the vehicle in question has the prancing horse logo on the hood.
If I could sum up in a single word the 6.3-liter V12 that leads the all-wheel-drive Ferrari GTC4Lusso into battle, it wouldn’t be ‘raucous,’ or ‘explosive’ — it would be ‘smooth.’ That’s certainly not out of line with the design brief of almost any 12-cylinder car, an engine arrangement that lends itself to almost perfect balance at idle and an equally assured character when tapping up against the Ferrari’s 8,250 rpm redline. There’s also the consideration that the GTC4Lusso was designed not to devour tarmac at your local race track – although I’m certain that it could – but rather ferry you along the lazy river of life’s day-to-day errands, potentially with a tot or two tagging along in the rear seats. This calls for more of a crescendo rather than a bass drop when you stab the accelerator.
One more asterisk that could potentially explain the GTC4Lusso’s inability to light a fire in the head is its massive 4,233 lb of curb weight. A Ferrari that tips the scales nearly as heavy as a Dodge Challenger is facing a straight-line challenge that even 514 lb-ft of torque will have to roll up its sleeves to overcome. The fact that the car takes just 3.4 seconds to surge past 60 mph from a standing start is something you’d have to see on a stopwatch to believe, because while the coupe is extremely fast in a straight line, it simply lacks the drama of similarly priced exotics.
Quiet and Comfy By Design
There are a number of other telltales about the 2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso’s mission statement that became clear to me during my time behind the wheel. The first was how quiet the car was at speed – a direct response to complaints from owners about its predecessor, the Ferrari FF, which had a tendency to use the rear seating area as a boombox that resonated the 12-cylinder howl of the engine and deafened whoever was unlucky enough to be trapped back there. The GTC4Lusso is astonishingly quiet at low RPM, and only begins to approximate the howl you’d expect from a Ferrari V12 once you’ve cleared 4,500 rpm.
The car’s incredibly well-appointed cabin was also perfectly in step with its daily duties. The GTC4Lusso recognizes that its owners are focused on more than just the next apex, and as a result offers exquisite leather on almost every surface where your bare skin or fingers might come into contact, as well as elegantly – and ergonomically – designed controls for the climate system and surprisingly competent infotainment features. There are no overwhelming rows of buttons to deal with, and no tricky crevices hiding key toggles or switches, with only the lane change indicators being affixed to the steering wheel standing out as an easily learned design quirk.
The final clue that the GTC4Lusso was meant to be enjoyed more than a few laps at a time can be found at the bottom right of the steering wheel, where the ‘mannetino,’ or drive mode selector switch, resides. You’ll find Sport, Comfort, Wet, and Snow, but no Race mode, which sets the four-seater apart from every other Ferrari in the lineup.
Four-Wheel Steering Makes For Unusual Dynamics
Most enthusiasts are aware of the Ferrari GTC4Lusso’s all-wheel-drive system, the first (after the FF’s) ever from Ferrari, and one that uses an unusual two-transmission setup (with the front wheels being driven by what the brand refers to as a ‘power take-off’ rather than a traditional transfer case) to deal with low-traction situations and torque-vectoring during specific speed ranges.
Less talked about is the vehicle’s new four-wheel steering system, which works in partnership with the AWD system under the ‘4RM-S’ banner. Designed to turn the rear wheels in conjunction with the fronts in a bid to ‘improve feedback,’ according to Ferrari’s engineering team (with very occasional out-of-phase operation on turn-in), in actual practice I found the system completely transparent in spirited driving yet distractingly overbearing on the highway. Throttle-on lane-changes provided me with the distinctly unpleasant sensation of the rear end of the GTC4Lusso squirming as though about to break traction, even though conditions were dry and the pavement clean. Definitely weird, and completely unexpected in any all-wheel-drive car, let alone a Ferrari.
Four-wheel steering or not, you’ll need substantial acreage to pull a U-turn in the GTC4Lusso. Its 193.8-inch overall length and nearly 80-inch width required two and a half lanes each time we reached the end of our video run and had to pivot back to the starting line.
The Worst Auto Start/Stop System I’ve Ever Experienced
This is going to sound like a petty complaint, but the Ferrari GTC4Lusso has perhaps the worst automatic engine start/stop system I’ve ever been subjected to. Not only was shutdown unusually rough, but coaxing the car into resuming forward motion after sitting at a red light involved pushing down on the gas pedal, waiting for a half second while the car seemingly asked ‘oh, so you want to get moving again? Let me see what I can do about that,’ and then waiting a little longer for the engine and transmission to re-engage each other in their somewhat awkward off-idle dance. I expected so much more from such an otherwise elegant machine.
Do You Really Want a Ferrari Appliance?
Until Ferrari gets around to building its inevitable SUV, the GTC4Lusso is as close as it’s going to get to offering a driving appliance, a car that dilutes the brand’s core competencies of speed, road feel, handling, and exclusivity to levels that are best appreciated on a long highway journey or a rush-hour slog. Ferrari has been building four-seat, front-engine V12 cars for decades, but the GTC4Lusso is the first to fully bring to bear drama-attenuating technologies such as all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, and a dual-clutch automatic manual gearbox.
This is Ferrari insulating you from Ferrari, inside a somewhat polarizing, but elegantly modern Modena-approved wrapper. It turns out that as competent and well-executed as the GTC4Lusso might be, that’s not at all what I want from this Italian brand. I’m sure that had I been given the chance to exercise the coupe on a race course I would have come away with a significantly different impression of its character, but when driving it in exactly the circumstances for which it was conceived – two-lane country roads, four-lane highways, and congested city streets – I couldn’t quite understand why one would choose the Ferrari over a similar Bentley, Mercedes-AMG, or Aston Martin offering. If I’m driving a Ferrari, I want it to feel special, and while the GT4CLusso has more than its fair share of impressive qualities, I just didn’t find much about the car’s personality that I couldn’t also sample elsewhere.