Can a Ferrari really combine the finest driving experience with limo luxury?
Ferrari, Forza Ferrari. Weâ€™re used to the red, to the speed, the noise, the adulation. When you think of a Ferrari you think of Lamborghini, Aston Martin. You donâ€™t think of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Perhaps you should in this instance.
The S-Class is the most successful luxurious limousine out there, and when you think of it you think of a huge vehicle swallowing kit and people in sumptuous comfort. So whatâ€™s that got to do with Ferrari? Because in Italian Lusso means Luxury, and weâ€™re going to take it at its word.
Which sounds ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as this â€“ the GTC4 Lusso is only 4.5cm shorter in the wheelbase and 12.4cm shorter overall than the S-Class. The Lusso is only 35kg lighter. So, could this really combine the thrills of a full-on driverâ€™s car with the sort of luxury travel that S-Class passengers enjoy?
You only get two doors but, once youâ€™re past them, the Lusso welcomes you into a really sumptuous rear, where even tall passengers will feel totally at home. Those at the front will be equally happy. This is a luxury cabin, to a level Ferrari has seldom if ever reached before. We found the new Delphi infotainment system totally intuitive and natural, and overall everything seemed to engender a feeling of calm.
Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
Engine: 6.3-litre, V12, petrol
GearboxÂ seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Kerb weight 1920kg
Top speedÂ 214mph
EconomyÂ 18.8mpg (combined)
CO2/tax bandÂ 350g/km, 37%
Noise is kept away by double-glazing and, at a cruise, the engine is completely silent. Itâ€™s wonderfully luxurious in delivery, leaving you feeling like you could sit here and relax all day. The ride is pliant and comfortable. If you want to waft, this is the wafti di wafti.
But, but, youâ€™re thinking, this isnâ€™t a damn S-Class itâ€™s a Ferrari. Whatâ€™s going on? Donâ€™t worry. All you have to do is put your foot down reasonably firmly. At that point the 6.3-litre V12 starts to unleash most of its 681 horses. You hurtle forward with the sort of thrill in your chest that Ferraris can always deliver.
And the noise. The sound of that V12 is perhaps the purest sound there is, itâ€™s the sound of a high-performance supercar distilled into a rich aural experience that makes your chest beat faster as well as slightly vibrate to the roar.
This is one quick car, capable of reaching 214mph, and however you slice it that needs quite a lot of chassis control. Amazingly pliant as the ride quality is, itâ€™s never quite going to be at S-Class levels but itâ€™s far closer than youâ€™d dare to hope.
And the handling, which has to handle two tonnes of car moving at over a mile every 20 seconds, is hugely impressive. But, while the handling is great and thereâ€™s endless traction and control through the all-wheel drive system, not everything is perfect. Annoyingly, the steering seems just too aggressive, while at the same time thereâ€™s a marked lack of feedback. Which means you end up either backing off a bit in corners or else you spend time making corrections you really shouldnâ€™t have to make. This is a big car to have trouble placing accurately on the road.
However, most drivers probably arenâ€™t going to spend their time thrashing down back roads. It wouldnâ€™t make the passengers happy for a start. No, this is a luxurious and ultra-high-performance coupÃ© that takes all of that to a new level.
Competitors? Well, an Aston Martin DB11 would be able to stay with it while actually being a better car to steer. And itâ€™s cheaper to the extent that you could have the DB11 and an S-Class for the cost of the Lusso.
But thatâ€™s not exactly like-for-like. And thatâ€™s because there isnâ€™t a car like the GTC4 Lusso, itâ€™s unique, blending practicality, space, luxury and performance in a way no other car can quite manage.