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Ferrari grand tour dirty purosangue

2024 Ferrari Purosangue in a Grand Tour of New Zealand’s Best Roads

I’ve driven the unicorn Ferrari. It’s called the Purosangue (AUD$728,000 plus on-road costs) and at first glance, it looks just like the car they said they would never make *cough* an SUV. It was moderately amusing to see just how far they went to avoid calling it that dirty three-letter word on our trip, but after driving the car nearly 1,000km over four days, the engineers might have a point.

The Purosangue is so far removed from anything I’ve driven that I don’t know what to call it. Someone smart termed it the Ferrari Utility Vehicle or ‘FUV’ and they might be onto something… but what I do know is that I’m here in New Zealand facing some of the best driving roads in the world and I’m in a four-door, four-wheel-drive, four-seater Ferrari with a naturally aspirated V12 buried somewhere in the dashboard and never-before-seen suspension technology. Let me pinch myself for a moment and answer that SUV question later.

RELATED: Ferrari Unleashes Barely Street-legal SF90 XX, Already Sold Out.

Side on at kinloch manor
This leg of the Ferrari New Zealand Grand Tour kicked off from Kinloch Manor just outside of Taupo | Image: Ferrari

Our journey started with a quick flight from Sydney to Auckland before a connection to Taupo and overnight accommodation at Kinloch Manor and Villas. If you’re a golfer, this is bucket list stuff. It’s home to a top 100 golf course, The Kinloch Club, a championship inland links style Jack Nicklaus signature design. And while we didn’t get a chance to play, it’s a good thing the Purosangue has space for your clubs.

This was also the first time I’d seen the car since it was unveiled last year and somehow it looks even better on the road. It’s concept-car-like but subtly sculptured with pure Italian design language from the large wheel arches filled by staggered 22-inch and 23-inch wheels to the carbon fibre all around the lower body lines and long extended bonnet that houses the mid-front mounted naturally aspirated V12. I’m not in love with the look to the point I’d say it’s drop-dead gorgeous, but it’s like nothing else on the road and builds its own unique formula with design before you even get behind the wheel.

Ferrari purosangue interior dashboard
Inside houses two cockpits for the driver and passenger with a rotary pop-out dial in the middle | Image: Ferrari

Step inside and the focus is on two individual cockpits, similar to the flagship SF90 Stradale. One for the driver with a large digital display measuring 16 inches and one for the passenger who gets their own 12.3-inch touchscreen display for controlling things like the massage seats and audio. In the middle sits a pop-out rotary dial that can be used for HVAC controls but also seat controls for adjusting things like bolstering.

The lack of a central touchscreen does mean the Apple CarPlay is controlled through the driver’s digital display, which is consequentially controlled by capacitive touch buttons on the steering wheel. It cleans up the design of the cabin, but it’s very difficult to use because CarPlay isn’t designed to work this way.

Ferrari purosangue interior rear seats

This is the first four-door Ferrari ever and rear passengers are treated to suicide ‘welcome door’ entry that provides convenient access with automatic opening and closing. Once you’re seated you’ll love the photochromatic roof (optional over the standard carbon fibre) that adds plenty of air to the cabin and all the leg, foot, and headroom. The seats are comfortable being sports-style and provide enough bolstering to keep you from moving around too much while your driver attacks a few corners.

We’ve seen cars like the GTC4 Lusso offer spacious rear seats, but nothing compares to the practicality of a true four-door Ferrari. If you want to get technical for a second, the boot space is pretty good too at 473 litres which compares well to the Lusso at 450 litres. However, it’s still less than natural competitors in the Lamborghini Urus at 615 litres and Aston Martin DBX707 at 638 litres. Nonetheless, you have to remind yourself that you’re sitting in the back of a Ferrari with a V12 engine. Something you won’t find anywhere else.

Ferrari purosangue grand tour new zealand
After checking out of Kinloch Manor we headed to State Highway 1 and the Desert Road around the base of Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe | Image: Ferrari

The next day signalled the start of our driving program and my first time behind the wheel of the new Ferrari Purosangue. We took the scenic route around Lake Taupo to State Highway 1 and the Desert Road past Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe. It’s here I quickly discovered the sportscar attitude of the car and how it doesn’t drive like anything else on the road, let alone an SUV.

I’ve driven nearly every fast SUV on the planet over the last 12 months and while I love the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, Aston Martin DBX707, and Lamborghini Urus Performante, none of these can touch the Ferrari Purosangue. If we’re talking about extracting pure driving enjoyment from a two-tonne vehicle with four doors and four seats, the buck stops here.

You’ve heard the adage that these super SUVs “handle like a sportscars” but none get close to the Ferrari. What we’re talking about is a car that seemingly lacks any compromise and is increasingly difficult to fault outside of those fiddly infotainment screens.

Ferrari purosangue driving blue 2
This Ferrari Purosangue is finished in Blu Corsa and if you look closely you can see me behind the wheel | Image: Ferrari

Push the car through a corner and the new Ferrari Active Suspension Technology gets to work distancing itself from anything I’ve driven. I won’t bore you to tears here with technical information but what you’re dealing with is very high-tech hardware (a damper aptly called a True Active Spool Valve) that combines with high-tech software (a set of sensors and actuators around the vehicle) to control pitch, roll, ride height, and more in real-time in conjunction with the 48v architecture.

The most significant and noticeable result is how the car can produce a variation in roll stiffness during the two stages of cornering. Enter the corner and the roll and pitch are balanced for a natural confidence-inspiring feeling (it doesn’t nose-dive) but as you exit the corner it’s shifted rearward as traction increases over the rear axle for grip and/or enjoyment. It’s simply unbelievable and like nothing you’ve ever experienced in a car.

I’m not suggesting for a second that it’s faster than the competition in a straight line because its 0-100km/h time of 3.3 seconds is identical to the Lamborghini Urus Performante and Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT. However, I have no doubt it’s one of the fastest four-door vehicles when corners are involved. If anything it’s the most enjoyable and fun to drive.

Ferrari purosangue new zealand grand tour
Somehow the Ferrari Purosangue looks even better after a few days of hard driving | Image: Ferrari

The highway leg on our final drive from the Hawke’s Bay region to our end destination in Wellington involved one of the greatest driving roads I’ve ever experienced – State Highway 2 from Featherston to Upper Hutt – and it was the last chance I’d get to experience the full fruit of the 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine.

This particular lump is from the 812 Superfast with a redesigned intake for increased torque in the lower RPMs and the resulting power figure is 533kW at 7750rpm and 716Nm at 6250rpm. Clearly, it still wants to sing.

Power is sent through a smaller new generation 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with a dry sump. It’s 30 per cent quicker than the 7-speed gearbox it replaces and the gears themselves are also closer together to accommodate a top ratio that’s better suited for economy on the freeway. Nonetheless, you’ll want to lock the gearbox into manual mode should you want to do any sporty driving as it’s very keen to get to that top ratio for economy and emissions reasons unless locked into ‘Sport’ through the manettino. I left the box in manual mode as we traversed our way to the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre via Route 52 before lunch at The Runholder in Martinborough.

Pukaha wildlife centre
We stopped at the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre before lunch at The Runholder in Martinborough | Image: Ferrari

It’s at this point after travelling more than 600km across two days that two things became apparent. First, I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxed and ready to drive I felt each morning – speaking to the practicality and comfort of the car. Second, I truly believe this could be one of Ferrari’s greatest products.

This is the car Ferrari said they’d never make but after spending the weekend with the Puro’ I firmly believe it’s the car buyers have been looking for. I love the GTC4 Lusso and FF, but they seem like stepping stones now, only making room for the halo flagship that we have here. Thanks to advancements in technology and innovation I think the world is ready for a four-door Ferrari because there are no compromises here.

The only problem is that you can’t have one because the brand isn’t letting this product make up more than 20 per cent of its overall sales. As such, this AUD$728,000 plus on-road costs vehicle is sold out until 2026. Well, isn’t that a nice problem to have?

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