The mayor of this small town has come out to have lunch with us, and so have the vice-mayor and the mayor of the next town over. The may- ors just keep coming as we sit down to lunch at a family-run restaurant in the Italian countryside north of Florence. The patio looks out towards a hilltop castle and rolling farmland.
The mayors are a jovial bunch. One of them brought his ceremonial sash but didn’t wear it. It is an awkward garment, the dress code for which, outside of beauty pageants and official portraits, is not well codified. If none of the other mayors are wearing theirs, you look at once pompous and naive. If the other mayors wear the sash and you don’t, you suddenly look unimportant.
The mayors are keen to show off local produce, particularly the local vintages, judging by the number of glasses they consume with various toasts. Sadly, we cannot join them in drink. We are on a road trip, driving Ferrari’s latest around its native land. The mayors aren’t in any hurry, but we’ve got somewhere to be this afternoon, another little town, another meal, with probably some more mayors. Each course as it comes — prosciutto, salami, bean soup, salad, steak — one is tastier than the last. It’s hard to leave, but we must.
Word has seeped out that we’re passing through, and the keys to the village — villages, really — are ours for the day, it seems. In terms of pure admiration, Ferrari is second only to the Pope in Italy. Of course, we’re merely interlopers, impartial critics driving Ferraris for a day, but nobody knows that. The car’s fame seems to rub off on you as you drive. And this is an essential part of the magic of driving a Ferrari: you get to bathe in its reflected glory.
And this is no ordinary Ferrari. It is a family Ferrari. It has a hatchback trunk and all-wheel drive and it doesn’t look like any Ferrari you dreamed of as a child. It’s called the GTC4Lusso, and it is the world’s most — the world’s only — eminently practical Ferrari.
Why should you have to switch to your S-Class or SUV when you take a trip with the kids or drive up to the chalet for the weekend? Going from a Ferrari into anything else is always a disappointment in some way: less sense of occasion, less power, less heritage, less control, and less reflected glory. Now you can avoid such pain.
Ferrari says people who buy the Lusso will be among its youngest customers. They’re less interested in track days and more interested in actually driving to beautiful places, with beautiful friends. Imagine: luxury cars as social vehicles, not selfish ones. It’s a trend you can see here, and in Rolls-Royce’s latest droptop, and the Aston Martin seen elsewhere in these pages.
The GTC4Lusso has space for four adults and the ability to drive in inclement weather. We were fearful that such practical considerations would dilute the core Ferrari experience. They do not.
When you drive a Ferrari, there is no filter between driver and machine. You have a direct connection to 70 years of engine-building know-how under your right foot. Above everything else — the prestige, the style, the specs — it is the engine that remains the heart of the machines from Maranello. Enzo set up the road-car business to help fund his racing team, and you still feel that connection in the engines. You get to soak up the brand’s heritage, even though this Ferrari shares zero parts with its ancestors. It doesn’t matter; reflected glory shines through the decades, too.
The 6.26-litre V12 deserves a story unto itself, but we will spare you the gory mechanical details. It is far more complex than any watch’s movement and infinitely more powerful. The V12 under the hood of the Lusso produces 680 horsepower, 30 more than the FF, the car the Lusso replaces.
Little Fiat Pandas pull out of the way when you come up behind them in a Ferrari. You don’t need to downshift to
pass, but you do, just to hear the full fury of that engine and to watch the tachometer needle lunge for the 8,250 rpm red line. At that speed, most other motors would have blown themselves up into metallic confetti. But this Ferrari V12 lives for the red line just like the very first one did, designed by Gioacchino Colombo in 1947.
The towns presided over by the mayors were not made with big cars like this Ferrari in mind. But Ferrari knows this; it’s in ancient villages like this where its cars are tested. The Lusso has an all-wheel steering system that makes it as nimble in a parking lot as one of those little Fiats. The fear of parking somewhere busy and bustling is the only thing that might’ve swayed you to take your other car, and now that fear is gone.
The mayors remain at lunch as we take an early leave. Grazzie mille, ciao. These guys don’t need a sash. They exude prestige and power — the way they give a toast, command a table. That the GTC4Lusso is not the flashiest or most extroverted Ferrari gives it an added sense of class, too, a regal presence on the road. This Ferrari is a sash for the common man, men of un-royal heritage or those not elected to any high office. Its glory is reflected in all who drive it.
Never has the purchase of a Ferrari been more easily justified.