The Case for the Odd, Overlooked 2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso

The slingback two-door from the Italian prestige brand doesn’t seem to shine next to its flashier sports-car brethren. But that’s because you’re not looking hard enough.

If you are one of the 8,000 or so people who will buy a Ferrari this year, it likely won’t be the Ferrari GTC4Lusso.

Last year the four-wheel-drive grand tourer sold a fraction of that globally. (The automaker declined to give exact figures.) And word on the street is that it won’t sell many more than that this year. Some industry insiders have even whispered that buying one is like paying your dues if you want to get in good with the team at Maranello, the Northern Italian town where Ferrari NV is situated. 

The Ferrari GTC4Lusso is a four-seat, four-wheel-drive hatchback sports car.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Here’s why: People who can afford to own just one Ferrari are far likelier to buy something more traditionally Ferrari, such as a curvalicous 488 or potent F12, than a long-nosed four-seater with an abbreviated rear end. After all, if you can afford a trip to Italy, do you go to quirky Murano before you’ve visited Venice?

No, but sometimes that’s a shame. Here are four reasons why the 2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso is worthy of your consideration—not as a second or third car but as a first choice from the great Italian automaker.

Ferrari Performance

The GTC4Lusso has a V12, 690cv engine. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Don’t let anyone tell you the GTC4Lusso isn’t a “real” Ferrari or isn’t as aggressive to drive as its counterparts. This V12, 690cv car has power-to-weight and compression ratios that far exceed anything in the grand touring category. Those numbers basically mean the car is simultaneously balanced and extremely aggressive on the gas; you get smooth, consistent power through all seven double-clutch gears in an acceleration arch as smooth as a drawn bow and arrow.

There’s no other way to put it: I’ve driven hundreds of the world’s foremost luxury cars, and the GTC4Lusso is among the top of the list. It’s unique, though. It’s not a thrill, not an adventure, not a bullfight, nor a dream: With its power and balance, plus the uncanny way it manages to be both gentle and utterly precise behind the steering wheel, it is far improved over the FF it replaced for 2016. (New this year are about four new traction control systems, which also help things immensely.) The new GTC4Lusso is very simply a delight to drive.

The Lusso follows the Ferrari FF, which was discontinued in 2016. It's remarkably improved over its predecessor both in look and in performance. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Did I mention that zero to 62 mph is 3.4 seconds; top speed (not even touched but dreamed about on a quick run up 9W last weekend) is 208 mph? In real time, that means you can get two male models to scream when you hit the gas, even across short city blocks.

Room for Four

About those models: It shouldn’t be understated how luxurious, to use an overused word, it is to be able to be in a Ferrari with your crew. This, in fact, is a rare thrill, because while other Ferraris are exclusive—they’re exclusive. In other words, more than one friend can’t come along for the ride.

The GTC4Lusso comes with dynamic drive modes and a dual-cockpit system in the front of the car. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

The two seats in the rear of the GTC4Lusso are spacious enough for a 6’ 2’’ man to enjoy an afternoon cruise. The front passenger seat even has a computerized and interactive LED screen that creates a second cockpit all its own. Ferrari calls the new invention a “dual cockpit” configuration—it’s divided by a central console where all the car's comfort and entertainment controls are common to both the driver and passenger.

How much nicer is a fine bottle of Chianti when poured among friends? Nice things are meant to be shared, and in the true dolce vita way, four is always better than two.

Drivable in All Conditions

The long screen in front of the front passenger seat shows the car's entertainment and comfort settings. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Compared with many other cars that cost near the $300,000, or more, it’ll take to buy a GTC4Lusso, this is a shockingly drivable contraption. Besides the obvious four-wheel-drive with four-wheel-steering advantage it has over other Ferraris, it also has the drivability advantage in very simple things: It’s higher off the ground than the Lamborghini Huracan or McLaren 570S, say, and far less finicky over pot holes and torn-up streets than even Aston Martin’s Vantage.

There were many times in the course of the week I had this car that I thought—a split-second too late—“I should slow down over this bump!” with no ill results to be had for not slowing. It was an unusual feeling. Most cars of this caliber come with a prerequisite knot in your stomach as you inch over speed bumps and hills. But this one provided only reassurance and comfort.

Beautiful to Watch and Hear

The back of the car is spacious enough even for tall adults over a long drive. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Try to resist your natural knee-jerk reaction to say, “that doesn’t look like a real Ferrari” and stay with me on this one. The car looks different in real life than it does in photos.

It happens to be named after shining examples of Ferrari design, including the 330 GTC and 330 GT (famously one of Enzo Ferrari’s favorite cars ever) and the forever beautiful 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso of the 1960s. (Lusso means “luxury” in Italian.) There’s a reason for that.

It reminds me of a downhill skier—sleek and fast and streamlined for speed but also elegant and smooth. The front is long and lean, and the dual twin red signature taillights set off the nearly hidden. dual round tail pipes at the rear. The wide, low, single grille at front balances the length of the car with a horizontal stop. In motion, that fastback silhouette is captivating to watch.

The GTC4Lusso has dual tailpipes that mirror the dual tail lights above them.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

The tone of the engine demands notice, too. It’s like velvet on Mick Jagger: balanced, feline, and charismatic. It starts out at a purr during city speeds but quickly deepens into a throaty growl as you demand more.

Which is how it drives. The GTC4Lusso costs a lot, and it’s not a “traditional” modern Ferrari, but it offers more than any other model that Ferrari makes. This is the full Italian package. You just have to be thoughtful enough about it to let it unfold.

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