Car reviews - Ferrari - GTC4Lusso - T
Beautifully linear power, entrancing cabin, excellent quality, fantastic grip, upstages its V12 sister
Room for improvement
Firm ride, complex steering wheel controls, compact rear-seat space
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31 Oct 2017
By NEIL DOWLING
IT SEEMS Ferrari may have wasted its time re-engineering the latest GTC4Lusso V12-engined coupe-hatchback-shooting brake wagon for a V8 engine. What is the aim? To slice some dollars off the car to lure more buyers?
That’s unlikely. Ferrari is often the recipient of buyers who don’t need to ask the price. The reason the V8 has been borrowed from Ferrari’s own California T convertible is to appeal to the Chinese market where the V12 cops an enormous increase in road taxes.
But if the goal was to make it easier for Chinese buyers to own a four-seat Ferrari, then it has rebounded perfectly into other markets by introducing a sweeter, more involved driving experience that loses a fair amount of weight and gains a lot of athleticism that the V12 lacks.
The GTC4Lusso T (the numeral 4 is the number of seats, Lusso means luxury and the T indicates turbocharging) is the rear-wheel-drive, V8-engined sibling to the “other” GTC4Lusso, the V12 that has all-wheel drive courtesy of a curious front-drive mechanism.
Both look identical to each other and even carry over the architecture, including the wheelbase dimension, from the Ferrari FF (Ferrari Four, for seats and driven wheels) that preceded the GTC4 and sold from 2011 to 2016.
Effectively, it’s the same car with a new name, the V8 option, a facelift and a new cabin.
The GTC4Lusso T (let’s call it the T) is obviously for the well heeled and, rather surprisingly, is incredibly docile and well mannered making it plausible commuting transport. So what does it have and how does it sit against other four-seat expotic rivals?
Price and Equipment
Let’s get this out of the way first – the T is $503,888 plus on-road costs.
That’s $75,000 cheaper than its all-wheel-drive V12 sister and that’s a welcome mat to someone wanting to personalise their new car because it accesses Ferrari’s exhaustive option list.
For example, luggage, made to fit the decent boot and comprising a golf bag, its wheels and a suit bag, will cost about $40,000. There is a huge choice in leather quality and colour, seats, wheels, carbon-fibre trim and so on.
Take the night off and go online on Ferrari’s configurator and there’s 26 paint colours, 15 cabin colours, five different wheels and nine colours for the brake callipers.
Standard equipment is reasonably comprehensive, including no-cost options for a range of metallic paint colours, full leather cabin, satellite navigation, premium audio and form-fitting front seats that are heated and contain adjustable bolsters and electric lumbar adjustment.
The infotainment centre has a 10.2-inch touchscreen and four USB ports. Look closer and there are carbon-fibre features, including the paddle shifters for the gears.
Technically, the chassis has electronically-adaptive Magnaride dampers, there are 20-inch alloy wheels, composite-ceramic brake rotors and even launch control. Safety equipment is reasonable, perhaps not as comprehensive as the car’s price suggests.
The T is based on the FF and is almost identical to the GTC4Lusso V12, save for its rear-drive layout and all-wheel drive system.
The appeal of the T is its four-seat capability. In effect, it will cosset four adults and the rear seat room is reliant on the height of the driver.
Once inside it is comfortable, perhaps a bit claustrophobic for some, though it’s not the seating position that is restrictive, rather the access and egress.
The problem is the sumptuous front seats don’t have enough forward and tilt adjustment to make it feasible for some people to access the rear seats.
No denying, however, the level of quality of the cabin. It’s a nice place to be, more so for the front occupants with comfortable legroom and a broader outlook through the deep windows.
Trim colour and design is excellent. It looks every inch the Ferrari inside and in particular the complex and distinctive steering wheel.
Probably based loosely on a Ferrari Formula One wheel – because we’ve all driven one of those – it is beautifully and artfully designed and immaculately constructed.
It’s just that it takes a bit of familiarisation. The carbon-fibre wheel has thumb-flip indicators atop the horizontal spokes, with the manetto (the five-mode driving mode) down the bottom right and engaged by flicking the switch through a 180-degree arc.
The bright red start button is also in the centre, along with a suspension adjustment, headlights, wipers and phone buttons.
Navigating this can be a task – especially in a hurry – but the aim is to remove column stalks and leave that space vacant for the carbon-fibre paddle shifters.
Ahead of the driver is a brightly-coloured single dial for the tachometer circle and the digital speedometer, with minor gauges alongside.
The centre console is a tapered panel leading to a tiny storage space. The panel holds the reverse gear button, with ventilation switches above.
In addition to room for occupants, or for luggage on the folding rear seat, the boot can take 450 litres with the seats intact. In comparison, a Volkswagen Golf is 380 litres but the celebration ends when you realise there’s no spare wheel. Standard cars get a repair kit, though a spare is optional.
Engine and transmission
The bi-turbocharged engine in the T came on the scene in 2013 being first used in the Maserati Quattroporte V8, before entering the Ferrari California T convertible and then losing two cylinders for the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.
In the T, it is virtually the same engine as the California but has been tuned for more power, now 449kW at 7500rpm compared with the convertible’s 412kW at the same peak revs.
Torque is 760Nm at 3000-5250rpm, up again on the California’s 755Nm at 4750rpm.
The engine, coded the F154, is the first from the factory to use turbochargers since the 1987 F40. The company didn’t muck about with the forced air program, fitting two twin-scroll turbochargers operating in parallel and adding water cooling.
In the T, the engine has a dry sump – more to do with the bonnet profile than warding of the effects of racing – while the Maserati version has a conventional wet sump.
The Quattroporte version also has a shorter stroke, reducing capacity to 3.8-litres, while in the V6 form that is sold to Alfa Romeo, the bore and stroke are identical to the T with the resulting loss of two cylinders resulting in a 2.9-litre capacity.
It is both a beautiful engine design in the way it can create a family from the same block and internal components, and from the way it delivers its power and torque.
But probably its best feature is the way it integrates seamlessly with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Rarely does the box baulk between ratios or stumble off the line, as the progressive power flow and strong torque seem to pick the ideal time to engage.
Dual-clutch transmissions often have a stumble point – usually hunting between gears and getting flustered when suddenly and unexpectedly being called on to find the right gear. The Ferrari box doesn’t skip a beat.
This is a transaxle system with the gearbox and final drive located within a housing between the rear wheels. It is a bit bulky and has made obvious intrusions into the cabin but the overriding effect is to create a near-neutral front and rear weight bias, now 46:54 front:rear.
Drive select modes are located on the complicated geography of the steering wheel hub, with the red switch able to be flicked from snow, to wet, to comfort, sport and the danger zone, ‘ESC off’.
There are dramatic differences in most of these modes, particularly the step from comfort to sport where things get firmer and louder, and to ESC Off where there’s more noise and the potential for the car to slip – even though it’s still restrained – through the corners. Not something advised for the street.
Ferrari claims the T will average 11.6 litres per 100 kilometres but I never saw anything like that. But it is certainly better than some Ferraris of the past with this test average of 12.8 L/100km not bad from a mix of country, freeway and suburbs.
Fortunately, Ferrari has retained the large 91-litre fuel tank of the V12 version though the 98-RON fuel quality – Shell of course – could chew the wallet.
And chewing is something the V12-engined GTC4 is quite capable of achieving.
But that’s because of its larger capacity but also because of its extra weight that comes mainly from the all-wheel-drive system.
Why doesn’t the V8-engined version have all-wheel drive? Because it was engineered as an innovative, bolt-on set of gears and clutches to fit onto the crankshaft tip in the nose of the V12 engine.
It drives the wheels through an on-demand, viscous clutch system perfected to be engaged in slippery conditions such as snow and on wet surfaces.
It has not – and is unlikely to ever – been designed for the V8 engine, even though this mill has its timing chain at the other end, just ahead of the flywheel. So no AWD for the V8 and if you intend to take this to the snowfields, get the V12 model.
Ride and handling
The GTC4Lusso T and V12 share the same body, wheelbase and pretty much everything else save the drivetrain. The T even gets the V12’s four-wheel steering.
So the T sits on the same 2990mm wheelbase that is a carry-over from its predecessor, the FF, and loses the all-wheel-drive system.
Factor in the change from the V12 to the V8, remove the AWD system and the T weighs a significant 55kg less than the V12.
This diet gives the V8 a more agile feel that is particularly apparent when driving along tight, twisting roads. There is more balance in the steering and the driver doesn’t get the feeling of compensating for a large mass and its subtle tendency to attempt to understeer.
The engine is a very flexible unit that is unfussed at low speeds through traffic yet barks like a wrecking-yard watchdog when pressed. The engine howls and roars through the rev range, seemingly ignorant of any approaching redline on the tachometer.
But though Ferrari say it develops its maximum 760Nm of torque at 3000rpm, it feels like it only really hits its strides further up the scale – say around 5000rpm when it really kicks.
That’s not to say it has weak acceleration or mid-range response. It is still a blast to drive on the track and on quiet country roads.
The all-wheel steering is a welcome feature for city driving, particularly as the car is just a shade under 5m in length, and makes it more precise through the bends with less steering input.
The handling is as expected, so confident that after a few kilometres it feels like a smaller car. This is important because aside from its length, it is also a fraction under 2m wide and it’s important to keep the broad nose from running wide.
Corners that previously may be assaulted with some trepidation become almost invisible to this car. It is very much a point and steer affair and the T appears as if it has been made to be pushed hard, becoming lighter and more agile.
The reason for the adept handling has a lot to do with the big wheels and the Magnaride adaptive dampening that makes extremely rapid adjustments to the damper movements, keeping the body flat and the major bumps at bay.
The ride is generally good though it prefers smooth asphalt. Slightly roughened roads and some small holes will produce some thump from the rear and speed humps are especially unkind to the back end.
The suspension is double wishbone and the brakes are composite ceramic discs, so the package beneath the body is certainly up to Ferrari’s high standards.
If you had a choice of cars in the garage, this one is so rewarding that it would be a difficult car to leave behind.
Safety and servicing
There’s an awful lot going for the Ferrari but price and safety specifications are not two of them. The new T, despite its price and its fast playground environment, does not have a few things including curtain airbags or autonomous emergency braking, or blind-spot warning or rear cross-traffic alert (which would certainly help the poor rearward visibility) or a few other things that sub-$30,000 hatchbacks have as standard.
It does, however, have a reversing camera – don’t laugh, some high-end Europeans have this as an option – and front and rear park sensors. There are four airbags, heated (and folding) mirrors, a tyre pressure monitor (handy as there is no spare), and bi-Xenon headlights.
If it gets close to going pear-shaped, there’s always the composite-ceramic disc brakes.
Ferrari has a three-year or 100,000km warranty and the service interval is 12 months or 20,000km.
Glass’s Guide does not have an estimate for this car’s three year resale value.
Ferrari continues to dabble with four seats and though it intimates it’s making an excuse for bowing to people who like to travel as a (small) group, the GTC4Lusso T is actually a very balanced and almost practical sportscar.
The problem may be that target buyers would prefer to stump up the extra $70,000-plus just to have a V12 engine, forgetting that this V8 is a more athletic car. This is the one for the driver the V12 more for the cruiser.
Aston Martin Rapide from $382,110 plus on-road costs
Stunning four-door that carries over all the lines of its more common coupe siblings. Sufficient room in the back for two adults and there is some luggage space. The single-model Rapide carries over the drivetrain from the previous coupe series. There is no announcement of an updated Rapide that could use the Mercedes-sourced drivetrain. The Rapide is powered by an aspirated 411kW/630Nm 6.0-litre V12 driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic. It clears the 100km/h sprint in 4.4 seconds and averages 12.9 L/100km.
Appointments include 20-inch wheels, sat-nav, 15-speaker audio and full cabin leather. Resale is value not listed.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo from $390,700 plus on-road costs
The agility and comfort of the coupe-style sedan is carried over to the more flexible wagon that is available in five versions including a diesel and a hybrid. The latest Panamera is streets ahead of its predecessor and the Turbo wagon is a strong contender for buyers wanting four-adult space and luggage room. The 404kW/770Nm bi-turbo V8 petrol hits 100km/h in 3.8 seconds, drinks at the rate of 9.5 L/100km and features 20-inch wheels, full leather cabin, LED headlights and tail lights, vented and heated seats, sunroof, composite-ceramic brakes, air suspension and the best safety package of its rivals here. Glass’s Guide estimates resale after three years at 57 per cent of the purchase price, the highest here.
Bentley Continental GT Speed from $452,670 plus on-road costs
Impressive British grand tourer gets the nod for seating (up to) four people and in its Speed trim, packs a wallop. The 6.0-litre V12 is rated at 472kW/840Nm – the most powerful here – for a 0-100km/h time of 4.1 seconds, mainly because of its 2.3-tonne weight. It drives all wheels and claims 14.6 L/100km. Features include full leather, electronic air suspension, premium audio and 21-inch wheels. And extra $24,632 will buy rose gold metallic paint.
There’s no resale value listing from Glass’s Guide for this car.
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