Six years of California drought and on the day I get a Ferrari, it rains. I could see it coming ahead, as I hurried toward my favorite local mountain road in the GTC4Lusso T. I was racing it, that rain, and it was winning. On the freeway portion, everything had remained dry. But as I hit the off-ramp and turned uphill to where the curvy mountain road began, the first drops began to hit the big, beautiful windshield and dribbled over the succulent curves of the car’s beautiful body.
“Noooooo!” I cried, shaking a fist at the clouds through the $20,249 (!) optional “Panoramic Roof.”
Oh, the pain. Oh, the irony. Oh, the metaphors.
By the time I hit the first really good curve — a tight left-hander that whets your appetite for what comes ahead in the next 63 miles (63 miles!) of curving and fairly new asphalt — the heavens let forth with a Noahic deluge. Animals scurried about 2×2. The masses repented their evil and wicked ways (too late, suckahs!). And the drought was over.
But not my drive!
“Hey, what’s this?” I thought, eyeballing the boy-racer F1-style dial switch screwed onto the edge of the Sebastian Vettel-approved boy-racer steering wheel. At the moment the steering wheel knob was set to "comfort." But right next to that was “wet.”
I was saved!
“Blaaat,” bleeted the mighty twin-scroll, twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8, as I pressed on, “Blaaaaat!”
A few more turns, gently probing the limits of the Pirellis as water collected in little rivers of traction-sucking, fun-draining, you-really-oughta-turn-back water. But come on, man, these were, at least in racing terms, rain tires, weren’t they? It’s not like I was riding on slicks. Or even intermediates, right?
Then, just as the limit-probing felt reasonable, like maybe I could go on and still be deemed to have driven in a “responsible and safe manner” when they found me: “Weerp” went the car as the rear tires slid over just 1 inch. “Weerp.”
I could not, in good conscience, continue. Nature had hosed me once again.
Problem was, I grumbled to myself as I slunk back down the mountain, that this car, the Ferrari GTC4Lusso T, had rear-wheel drive, while the GTC4Lusso had all-wheel drive. The latter also had a V12 while this rig made do with a twin-turbo V8. And even though lopping four cylinders off the drivetrain from the front of the engine meant that the balance shifted rearward by a discernable amount, you still can’t beat AWD for rain. Heck, when they introduced the FF, predecessor to the GTC4Lusso, they did it in the freaking snow.
No, there would be no flailing of the Ferraris today. I turned around and skeedaddled off the mountain like a beaten Italian lap dog.
And then … and then the Ferrari guy, who is now my BFF for reals and fo-evah, sent a text: “Wanna hang on to that car till Tuesday so you can get some time on dry roads?” Would eye? Would eye? (peg leg, peg leg)?
Thus it was that only a few days later in sunny, dry, perfect weather on an uncrowded Monday I took the GTC4Lusso T up and over the entire length of Mount San Jacinto, from Palm Springs in the south to Idyllwild in the middle, and thence to beautiful, banal Banning, where fast food goes to coagulate. And everyone who saw it coming over the mountain in their rearview mirrors — everyone! — got the high Hades out of its way.
Oh what a day, what a lovely day!
If you were faced with a choice of V12 AWD or V8 rear-wheel drive — or let’s say if I was, because you probably are faced with these kinds of dilemmas all the time, whereas for me they are safely theoretical — I would take the RWD V8 every time. I have always gone for smaller, lighter and more tossable over bigger, heavier and maybe a little more powerful. The power difference, while not negligible, is at least not overwhelming: 680 hp in the V12 versus 601 hp in the V8. The weight difference is more substantial: 4,233 pounds versus 4,112 — that’s like kicking out a Brazilian supermodel and a matching set of Brazilian luggage. And here’s the real kicker: With a twin-turbo setup, you actually get more torque from the V8 than from the 12 –- 561 lb-ft versus 514. So while it’s true you are down on hp, it’s only up at the top, nearer the V12’s 8,250-rpm redline, or the V8’s 7,500-rev limit. In the usable range of torque, you’re ahead.
Plus, the V8 starts at an entirely reasonable (for you) $260,750, compared to $300K-plus for the V12. Granted, my GTC4Lusso T was loaded up with everything but a pasta splicer, stickering for $352,680 after you load the — brace yerself, Berlusconi — $91,930 worth of options thrown on my car (“horse stitched on headrest: $2,194”). But you could argue, to a significant other, that $260,750 is an entirely reasonable price when you consider that you get four seats and room for luggage.
Yes, I used this for the high school carpool, and boy did the kids love it. I even sat in the back myself once and both I and my freakishly long tuna fish torso fit back there just fine, with headroom to spare and snugly fitted side bolsters to keep me and whomsoever wanted to ride back there in place around fast corners.
Lusso in a driveway
Yes, fast corners: There I was sweeping up Highway 74 like a tractor beam on a Romulan. The GTC4Lusso T just loved Highway 74’s long, sweeping sweepers. It hunkers down and holds on like agliata on farfalle. It didn’t seem to care what setting it was in on these turns, it just lapped them up like those two dogs eating spaghetti in that Disney dog movie.
It was later in the day’s drive, where there were a few tighter curves, that I found the best mode for this suspension is simply comfort. In sport mode, the steering and the throttle get twitchy. Not as twitchy as an AMG GT in one of its sportier settings, but twitchier than I would like in a Ferrari. The smaller, lighter, sportier 488GTB has no such twitchiness. It is a sports car pure and true no matter what you do with it. But this car, like a few other larger, heavier, gran tourers or shooting brakes, seems to have been set up and balanced out in comfort, and in comfort it should remain.
Acceleration is meaty and profound –- it hits 62 mph in 3.5 seconds, just a tenth slower than its V12 sibling rival, while top speed is just 9 mph less than the V12’s 208 mph.
These are all acceptable compromises, I’d say. And there really is no reason for you not to buy a GTC4Lusso T, especially if you’re looking for a responsible family car. For any weather.
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $260,750
As Tested Price: $352,680
Powertrain: 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, rwd
Output: 601 hp at 7500 rpm, 561 lb-ft from 3000 to 5250 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,112 lbs (mfg.)
0-60 MPH: 3.5 seconds
Fuel Economy: Who cares?(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Options: Oh man, $91,930-worth
Pros: Seats four comfortably at almost 200 mph
Cons: The sunroof alone costs $20,249