Everyone – whether you’re an enthusiast, have little to non-existent interest in cars – everyone wants to drive a Ferrari, any Ferrari for that matter; or at least be driven in one.
In this line of work, trying out new cars is as easy as searching up that brand representative’s contact on WhatsApp and a date is set.
That being said, as the local automotive media industry would attest, the opportunity to drive a Ferrari can be as limited as your affection for that 3-year old Chinese smartphone. That’s even if they last that long.
So when the invitation came along, to spend a full day in a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso V12, my reply had only three words in it – Yes, thanks and when. Personally, I’m more into Porsches than Ferraris but you’d have to be severely messed up in the head to pass on the chance to let loose (within reason) in one of automotive’s most prestigious brands.
What will no doubt last long though, is the memory that’s been etched in my brain from the moment I stepped foot in Naza Italia and into the GTC4 Lusso, up to the point when the car was returned safely to its stable along the Federal Highway.
With the destination set for Bukit Tinggi, I carefully threaded my way out of Naza’s premises and yet there were already suggestions that the V12 lurking underneath the long front hood, despite the unassuming, tame and unconventional shooting brake design (especially for a Ferrari), would frighten the crap out of me.
And it did. Even before arriving in Bukit Tinggi for photo opportunities, the drive along the Duke Highway en route to the infamous “hoon central” of Karak, was enough to make my hands so shaky that even the usual picture taking chore was a challenge.
For those who claim that the GTC4 Lusso isn’t a proper Prancing Horse for the lack of “Ferrari-ness” in its design would be so disillusioned and proven SO wrong the moment you go near the throttle, even the slightest bit.
There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the way that 6.3-litre V12 engine accelerates. With 80% of its 697 Nm of torque available as early as 1,750 rpm, it was simply explosive.
From the relentlessness of its acceleration, coupled with the sheer speed it achieves so effortlessly and that unmistakable V12 wail in front of you, it was a sensory overload in every sense of the word.
It was like having 20 Mariah Careys pulling off all her signature, glass-shattering high notes under that hood – it just simply overwhelming. It took a lot out of me just to keep my feet planted for at least a couple of gear changes at the rev limit – it was possibly the most alive I’ve ever felt behind the wheel of any road car.
Seated comfortably in the back seat with plenty of head and legroom, was Adrian whom I’ve never heard breathe that heavily before.
It was as overwhelming as it was confusing; as much as the GTC4 Lusso was frightening, it also taunted me for more – as if it was telling me to man up and not lift my foot off the throttle.
With every gear change in the 7-speed Dual-Clutch transmission, it just begged for more. It just wanted to go faster with every click of the paddle shifter, snapping you out of the speed-inducing trance from the previous gear, follow by more incomprehensible speed.
Aside from the five laps I had the pleasure to spend in a V12 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 race car around Sepang, my palms have never been so drenched in sweat, in a cabin that was so well-insulated, furnished and air-conditioned.
There may be other cars out there pumping out far bigger numbers than the 680 hp available in the Lusso, but I dare say, not many of them are as well-utilised. As alarming as it was behind the wheel, it did not threaten me with the slightest unforeseeable, unspeakable circumstance.
It was planted, it did not whale about in a straight line struggling to contain its own might – it was like being strapped on the nose of a speeding bullet train on rails. Having not driven a Ferrari before, every bit of expectation I had of what a Ferrari might be, turned into a reality.
Only that, it wasn’t your usual Ferrari with its shooting brake design but I get the reason behind this. Just like how I understand why Lamborghini, with its long illustrious history of building supercars more intimidating than a jealous mistress, would bother building an SUV.
In an age where practicality is everything, even in a supercar, it’s THE CAR for those with a taste for everyday supercar-driving, without the “embarrassment” of having to awkwardly crawl out of your multi-million dollar mode of transportation.
It was as ergonomic as your German mid-size sedan, it had all the equipment and features mandatory of a high-end luxury SUV with sizeable boot space for whatever cargo you might need to carry in a Ferrari and visibility that was far less restrictive than looking out of a peephole – a predicament most suffer, especially in mid-engined supercars.
It even had dampers that would allow you to raise the height of the vehicle – for when the speed bumps and “water levels” get too high.
Stopping for McDonalds at Genting Sempah, you get the sense that you’re in nothing less than a special piece of automotive engineering and history – a Ferrari. It wasn’t only because your blood pressure has doubled after a short but eventful drive but also because of the attention the Lusso drew.
People just stopped in their tracks and stared. Being more attentive and self conscious to my surroundings, I even caught a father not looking before crossing the road with an infant in his arms, all because of the attention the Lusso demanded.
Sure, it may not have the typical looks of a Ferrari; it did not have the “extended rear end” of a mid-engined Ferrari 488 nor did it have the swooping grand tourer lines of an 812 Superfast. Just based on what I’ve observed from overly keen on-lookers though, the Lusso is as Ferrari as the late Enzo would’ve expected each of his cars to be – dramatic even when stationary.
Taking over the baton from the Ferrari FF, the Lusso simply took the shooting brake design rule book, set it alight with the flames from the V12 and reinforced the bravado of a design that has garnered mix reactions from all quarters.
The front end looks way more malicious and discreetly evil, wiping the silly grin off the old FF’s face. Its predecessor looked like your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman who had just discovered his super powers, while the Lusso looked like the Venom, with wider jaws, an even larger more imposing front grille, with a hunger for vengeance.
Coupled with the more refined and pronounced rear end, the GTC4 Lusso looks as dramatic as the performance it delivers to excite you and the three passengers fortunate enough to befriend a Ferrari owner.
As much as it was a driver-centric vehicle, with every control at arms reach, every feature revolving around its millionaire owner, the Lusso is just as “considerate and pragmatic” to the front passenger, in a way that only a Ferarri would be.
The display ahead of the front passenger, placed just above the glove box, can be as amusing as it is heart-stopping. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if my dad was in that front seat watching the numbers climb to revolting speeds.
He wouldn’t have survived the drive, not without losing his voice at least from screaming at me to slow down. He certainly wouldn’t have survived the journey up Bukit Tinggi where the GTC4 Lusso’s 0 to 100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds was felt in full extent upon exiting every bend leading up to Colmar Tropicale, our final destination.
The serene hills of Bukit Tinggi was not prepared at all for the Lusso’s presence – all the chirps and chatters of the mountain were overwhelmed and terrorised by the unapologetic roar of a V12.
Having lacked the necessary courage and skill to push the Lusso has hard as I’d normally would in cars that cost much less, there was still a profound sense of nimbleness through the corners. Whether it’s the Lusso’s cutting-edge 4-RMS four-wheel steering system coming into play or it was just me going too slow, I expected the near 1.8-tonne Ferrari to corner like a stubborn horse but it did not.
Arriving at the top, there was no other way to celebrate the unforgettable experience of piloting a Ferrari through winding roads without any (major) incident but with a cheeky puff from a cancer stick. What a day it has been, what an occasion, what a memory.
Taking in every inch and edge of the car, every slope and curve of the Lusso, I can’t help but feel this fulfillment and pleasure from the experience of “being flown in a Ferrari”. It’s not something that can be defined by words but can only be felt from behind the wheel.
Regardless of what you may have to say about how the Lusso looks, it still oozed and exuded everything that was special about a Ferrari, something that’s truly distinct and only available from those out of Maranello.
Yet, it offers so much more than that. It was practical, usable and drivable – everything that makes it a supercar for all seasons – without lacking drama and spectacle, all the signature attributes that makes the V12 GTC4 Lusso well and truly, a Ferrari.