There are many reasons someone might desire to own a Ferrari. Maybe it’s the trophy-stacked history of the Maranello stable. Maybe it’s their endless stream of gorgeous creations. Maybe it’s their collectable value (A 1963 250 GTO is now worth around $100 million).
Whatever the justification, there is no denying the appeal of vehicles donning that famous badge. When kids see a Ferrari their jaws drop to the floor, when grown-ups hear them, they get goosebumps. This is the Ferrari Effect.
I’ve been lucky enough to drive some of the older Ferrari models, and every moment of those drives are still etched in my mind. But with tighter emissions regulations, turbo-charged engines and safer body design, have the reigns been pulled too tight on the prancing horse? Well, Ferrari Australia invited me to drive two of their finest stallions and see if the modern line-up still has the Ferrari Effect.
I was greeted at the Ferrari Sydney showroom in Waterloo by the friendly team including Australiasian CEO, Herbert Appleroth. Herbert’s been part of the Ferrari family for a long time now, and his knowledge of the cars proved that. After a couple of espressos, a quick drivers’ briefing and some farewell messages to my friends and family, I was taken to my selection of Ferraris: The beautiful Ferrari Portofino and my first drive of the day, the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso.
Walking around the GTC4 Lusso’s striking exterior, it’s easy to see why it’s styling is considered a little more progressive than your traditional GT. The shooting-brake proportions are quite polarising at first, but give it some time and attention, and you grow to love the uniqueness of its streamlined exterior. At 4922 mm in length, it’s not a small car by any means, but that long bonnet gives the car such a presence, it would even put Cruella De Vil’s ride to shame.
The details flirt a fine line between elegance and masculinity while maintaining an aesthetic that many would call ‘brave’ in the current car design climate. Around the fastback-like rear of the Lusso you’ll find some signature twin lights perfectly matched with a pair of twin exhausts on each side.
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Slipping inside the cabin is an equally stunning affair. The theme is more ‘GT’ than it is ‘Track’ with luxurious leathers and metals used tastefully throughout. The layout is separated quite purposefully in something Ferrari calls a ‘dual-cockpit’ setup, which gives the passenger their own space. The central tunnel also separates the rear passengers in their own luxurious ‘pods’ and engages each person individually. Overall, it doesn’t matter which seat you find yourself in, the interior of the GTC4 Lusso is a very special place indeed.
Once I was out of Sydney traffic and able to start putting that V12 through its paces, the goosebumps started coming in waves. 507 kilowatts of normally-aspirated, Ferrari V12 goodness, is the stuff of dreams. You get access to 80 per cent of its 697 Nm of torque from 1750 rpm, giving the engine a very usable torque spread, and if given the chance, the beast will howl over 8000 rpm.
0-100? 3.4 seconds. Maximum speed? 335 km/h. It might look every bit a Grand Tourer, but with those sorts of figures and versatility at your disposal, the Lusso is in a paddock of its own.
Slaloming the tapered body through Sydney’s northern beaches was as effortless as turning heads on pedestrians. The new 4RM-S (four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering) system gave the feeling of a much shorter wheelbase with incredible amounts of agility and maneuverability. The clever torque vectoring on the four-wheel drive system made sure the torque was going to the appropriate wheel, and even though I wasn’t able to push the car to its limits, you could definitely sense the potential in the chassis.
The call for morning tea meant I could get some treats from Pilu’s at Pittwater and any kid within a 5km radius could get a real-life experience of that car on their bedroom wall. The questions were coming thick and fast from people all walks of life. I was doing my best to keep the people happy, but when I was given the keys to the Portofino, I was relieved to be exiting the ensuing mob and getting back on the road.
You can’t really blame the people though. A Ferrari convertible is always a dangerously good-looking combination, and the Portofino is no exception. Picking up from where the California left off, the new car is the most versatile model in the stable. Featuring one of the prettiest body’s in modern memory, the silhouette looks just as good as a coupe as it does with the roof down.
Not that it’s a huge issue either way, as the retractable hardtop will open or close in 14 seconds, giving you quick protection against rain or drooling bystanders.
But don’t for one second think that the Portofino is a poser’s car, there is plenty of go to match the show. The turbocharged V8 is the same block taken from the 488 only tuned slightly differently for the convertible. Flicking through the paddles on the 7-speed F1 dual-clutch transmission is frighteningly quick. With a dry weight of 1545kg and 441 kW on tap, the numbers are staggering. 0-100 km/h disappears in 3.5 seconds and braking 100 back to 0 km/h plays out over 34 metres thanks to the lightweight ceramic stoppers.
Driving the Portofino along the coast towards Newport was the road this prancing horse deserved. With the roof down, in comfort mode, you can just kick back and wave to the people coming out to see and hear the Maranello masterpiece.
If you feel like you want to turn up the wick, flick the switch to sport and grab the paddles, the Portofino comes alive in a way that only a Ferrari can. It truly is the most versatile Ferrari on the market, and at AUD$399,888 (plus on-road costs), it’s also the most affordable.
But with all that shifting and waving, I had built up quite an appetite. So Ferrari suggested I hand over the keys and pull up a chair at Bert’s in Newport. The famous Sydney brasserie has a decadent hotel feel and with a coastal European flavour running through the menu, it felt very, well, Ferrari. Executive chef Jordan Toft’s seafood lunch was mighty impressive as was the wine selection and as I started to ponder the feasibility of napping under the table, I was told it was time to go home.
Rather than calling a cab or doing the afternoon stroll back to Ferrari Sydney (a casual seven hours if you were ever inclined), Bert’s owner, Justin Hemmes, offered us a lift back to Sydney in his Seaplane. So I hugged goodbye to the GTC4 Lusso and Portofino, and casually boarded an aircraft floating on water. The sunset over Sydney harbour, the temperature, the company… If this was a typical day out for a Ferrari owner, I would have signed my life away.
To say my Ferrari drive day was an assault on the senses would be selling it short. The sound from those engines, the touch of the paddles, the beauty of that Italian styling, the smell of the interior… every sense is maximised in a Ferrari.
As the sun set on one of the most picturesque days in living memory, I could sleep well knowing the Ferrari Effect was still coursing through my veins.
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