2018 Ferrari GTC4Lusso First Drive

What if your winter car was a Ferrari? The GTC4Lusso makes that dream come true

Can you really trust a Ferrari to get you to a ski resort? You can if it’s the GTC4Lusso.
Can you really trust a Ferrari to get you to a ski resort? You can if it’s the GTC4Lusso.
Can you really trust a Ferrari to get you to a ski resort? You can if it’s the GTC4Lusso.

Highs

  • Stunning acceleration and all-around performance
  • Unrivaled naturally-aspirated V12
  • Italian styling and design
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • It’s a Ferrari

Lows

  • More than you can afford, pal

Flogging a Porsche 911 around a racetrack. Four-wheeling through muddy ruts and over craggy boulders in a Land Rover. These are the types of motoring experiences you imagine when you dream of pushing a purpose-built machine to its very limits. But how about navigating a $300,000 V12 Ferrari through the ice and snow of a Canadian winter?

“Preposterous!” one would think. Because a car like a V12 Ferrari is meant for drives around the French Riviera, or up the Pacific Coast Highway with perfect ambient temperatures, sunshine, and above all, dry weather. Envisioning a V12 Ferrari braving ol’ man winter is like trying to imagine Earth actually being flat, impossible.

This V12 Ferrari here however, is quite a bit different. The name GTC4Lusso might be unfamiliar. Think of it as an updated Ferrari FF, except with a new name – a “shooting brake” style grand tourer, meant more for comfort, than performance. But being a 12-cylinder Italian thoroughbred, this GTC4Lusso is anything but shy on performance. We’ll get to that in a second.

Competitors? In this realm, there aren’t many, as the GTC4Lusso is pretty much at the top of the echelon. If anything, the closest rivals would probably be the 12-cylinder Bentley Continental GT and although stretching it, a fully-loaded Porsche Panamera Turbo S. Otherwise, the GTC4Lusso is in a class of its own, starting at $298,900.

Interior and tech

Being a $300,000 super GT, you can bet every single one of those dollars that the GTC4Lusso pretty much comes with all the bells and whistles imaginable in an automobile – except for semi-autonomous tech. Whereas technology in your basic Mercedes-Benz or Lexus is there for safety and convenience, the GTC4Lusso’s tech is there to make a driving performance statement first, with safety and convenience second. This is a Ferrari, a purebred sports GT meant to be driven deliberately and with verve.

A huge tachometer sits front and center behind the wheel, flanked by dual high-def LCDs displaying all other gauges and a modicum of crucial info, like sat-nav. There are no stalks mounted on the steering column, which is where the metallic transmission paddle shifters reside. Instead, everything’s mounted on the steering wheel (including headlight and turn signal controls) or on the dashboard behind, to minimize the need to take your hands off the steering wheel. When you pilot something as insanely powerful as the GTC4Lusso, you want your attention completely devoted to driving as much as possible.

The level of tech seamlessly at work behind the scenes is incredible.

But to program the sat-nav, set up Apple CarPlay, or adjust the climate control, a large 10.25-inch full-HD capacitive touchscreen sits on the center console.

To keep the passenger distracted, it gets its own 8.8-inch full-HD color touchscreen, displaying vehicle telemetry and other options. Perhaps one of the few available options not standard on the GTC4Lusso.

And while there are back seats, they’re best reserved for children or for very short trips to the local restaurant scene. Who said Ferraris can’t be family vehicles?

Driving experience

Ah yes, the best part of a Ferrari: driving it. The GTC4Lusso impresses on paper with 6.3-liter naturally-aspirated V12, 680 horsepower – yes you read that correctly – 514 pound-feet of torque, and a seven-speed Formula 1-style dual-clutch DCT transmission. Mind-blowing figures, especially considering there are no turbochargers or superchargers at work here. Sixty from a standstill takes only 3.4 seconds, doubling that to 120 mph takes only 10.5. It is quite simply bat-poop insane fast.

Numbers are one thing, but it simply does not speak for actually experiencing the level of acceleration it translates to. Find a straight, clear road, and enough of your own bravery, and you’ll struggle with how quickly the speedometer climbs and the horizon comes at you when you flick the left paddle shifter a few times and put the pedal to the metal.

Fail to exercise finesse with your right foot, and the GTC4Lusso could potentially leave you with the biggest accident bill of your life. But once the rear end finds its footing and squats, it becomes an instant warp machine. Surpass the triple-digit speed mark and the GTC4Lusso’s stability puts the Germans and their Autobahn to shame with incredible Brembo brakes to bring things back down.

Under the sheet metal lies enough technology at work to make a computer engineer’s brain crash. It’s not just for show: it makes the GTC4Lusso one of the best handling grand tourers ever made. The list includes 4WS (active four-wheel steering), E-Diff (electronic rear differential), F1-Trac (F1-influenced traction control), SCM and ESC (stability control), SSC4 (Side Slip Control), SCM-E (magnetic ride suspension), and 4RM EVO. The latter stands for “4 Ruote motrici,” or “four-wheel drive” in Italian, is bespoke to the GTC4Lusso.

Ferrari’s patented system all-wheel system is unlike any other.

Ferrari’s patented system is unlike any other, and does without the transfer case and center differential of a conventional all-wheel drive setup. It instead mounts a completely separate computer-controlled two-speed gearbox to the front of the engine, and only transfers up to 20 percent of the engine’s power to the front wheels. It all sounds very fancy and very complicated, but the result is that it’s up to 50 percent lighter than traditional all-paw systems.

In action, it proved its worth around a specially arranged snow and ice track at Circuit Mécaglisse, tucked in the mountains just outside Mont Tremblant.  There, Ferrari paired us up with seasoned racecar drivers for a day, who coached a few journalists around completely ice and snow-packed figure eights and closed road courses with steep banks, just to prove how well the system works. With a few rounds, the GTC4Lusso quickly invoked a level of confidence and felt no more difficult than navigating a 4MATIC AMG Mercedes in the same conditions. Other two-wheel drive Ferraris would’ve slid off into the embankments.

2018 Ferrari GTC4Lusso First Drive | Hero shot of car on snowy road above forest
Chris Chin/Digital Trends
Chris Chin/Digital Trends

Whether on the unpredictable, worn Canadian roads surrounding Mont Tremblant, or flogging it on ice, the GTC4Lusso’s steering proved exquisite if not surprisingly light and deft, translating every input into a perfect adjustment with little effort. The magnetically controlled adaptive suspension ironed out rural Québécois thoroughfares and hugged the smooth and curvy ones.

Even with the occasional flash whiteout snow shower and patches of ice everywhere, the GTC4Lusso felt as sure-footed as a Quattro-equipped Audi (its Pirelli snow tires help a lot). Can you really trust a Ferrari to get you to a ski resort? You can if it’s the GTC4Lusso.

Warranty

The GTC4Lusso comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage basic warranty and a three-year unlimited mileage powertrain warranty.

How DT would configure this car

To match our theme as closely as possible, we’d opt for the “Blu Tour de France” metallic exterior. To spice things up on the inside, we’d keep things more traditional with the fancy Rosso Ferrari red leather – hey, what’s a Ferrari if some shade of yellow or red isn’t involved in some way? We’d also select the 20-inch “Forged Diamond” double-spoke wheels to complete the look.

Even the base GTC4Lusso comes jam-packed with kit, so you don’t need to fret over other features. But if you want to fuss, Ferrari will let you. For instance, you can choose what type of trim you’d like to contrast with your choice leather color, the design of the seats, and even the color of the tachometer backplate. Outside, you can opt for carbon fiber trim and vent inserts, and even choose the color of your brake calipers.

Conclusion

The Ferrari GTC4Lusso is an absolute masterpiece. It meets all the expectations you could ever imagine for a car donning the world-famous Italian Prancing Horse. It’s not only incredibly fast and a ton of fun to drive, it’s also extraordinarily comfortable both to be in and easy to manage its speed, if you bring some experience to the table. It simply stuns you with unrivaled acceleration and stability that few cars can match, especially when navigating Quebec in the dead middle of winter. And it amazes with the level of technology seamlessly at work behind the scenes.

Normally, a Ferrari would be better suited for a heated garage in the conditions we drove it through in Canada. But through technology, you can now live with a Ferrari year-round and through the dead of winter – something that wasn’t possible before a car like the GTC4Lusso and its predecessor, the FF.

If you are looking for the ultimate performance example of long-distance, road-going, year-round transportation, then look no further than the GTC4Lusso.

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