Gone is the V12 in favour of a turbocharged V8. But is Ferrari’s ‘sixth model’ now more sports car than GT?
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It’s not too often I get to drive two variants of the same model back-to-back, let alone one with a prancing horse on the nose. Such is the case though with the new Ferrari GTC4Lusso T, a more dynamic, turbocharged version of the ‘versatile’ naturally-aspirated GT we tested last month. Not that you’d know if from the looks alone, given that, barring some new 20in alloys, some bespoke dual exhaust pipes and an additional ‘T’ on the dashboard, they’re pretty much indistinguishable. No, the real difference lies beneath that snazzy ‘Grigio Ferrari paint (that’s ‘Grey’ to you and I).
Marketing pomp or otherwise, the T is the first turbo V8-powered Ferrari four-seater in the company’s history. More significantly, it’s also the first time Ferrari has offered two different engines in the single model. So keen is Maranello to differentiate the two, the company even refers to the GTC4Lusso T as the sixth member of its model range.
So what’s different? Well, the dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission remains intact, but the naturally-aspirated V12 has been chucked in favour of, essentially, the same 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 that powers the 488 GTB. Power and torque have also been tweaked, but while power drops from 681bhp to 630bhp, torque leaps from 514lb ft to 561lb ft. More significantly, the 4RM-S four-wheel drive system has also been shelved for more Ferrari-conventional rear-wheel drive. The removal of a driven front axle and the smaller V8 now sitting further back in the engine bay simultaneously allows greater rear-biased weight distribution. Even the kerb weight has dropped 55kg. Make no mistake, though the GTC4Lusso T aims for sportiness and versatility, priority now leans much closer to the former than before.
Given the new V8’s performance, it certainly looks that way. Under heavy acceleration, any hint of turbo lag is eliminated by Ferrari’s Variable Boost Management system, also on loan from the 488 GTB. Indeed, nobody seems to have alerted the V8 that it loses 51bhp and four-cylinders to its V12 sibling, such is effectiveness of that heightened torque and the instantaneous response from the throttle pulling cleanly, and surprisingly progressively, to its 7500rpm peak (750rpm lower than the V12, interestingly). Granted, the sprint from 0-100kph drops by a tenth to 3.5 seconds in the T, and you could argue that acceleration is not as effortless as we found in the V12, but there’s nevertheless a stirring sense of occasion when the right pedal is given a stab, a visceral ‘snap’ from the slick seven-speed transmission adding to the drivetrain’s more dramatic punch.
“Nobody seems to have alerted the V8 that it loses 51bhp and four-cylinders to its V12 sibling, such is the instantaneous response from the throttle.”
Where the V8 loses points however is via the soundtrack. In the rafters for instance, the V12’s crescendo threatened to bring grown men to tears. The more ferile V8 ‘bark’ meanwhile, complete with subtle turbocharged whine, just can’t compete with that level of charisma. That’s not to say though that the V8 has lost all its GT refinement. The cabin design, unchanged from the V12, is genuinely roomy enough for four fully-grown adults and the quality is a massive step forward from the FF it replaces, even if – with its more dynamic setup – the superlative ride comfort in the V12 GT is now less compliant. Even despite the sheer space at your disposal, long distance journeys now feel more laboured.
Fortunately the GTC4Lusso T’s capabilities through the turns more than makes up for this. Admittedly, the steering doesn’t exactly drip with feedback – it’s still a GT, remember – and at first feels over-reactive in that now traditional modern Ferrari way, the front end darting under turn-in with a vigour that takes some time to get used to.
There’s huge amounts of grip to lean on though, translating into an incredibly keen front end from which your confidence begins to grow. And it’s here the V8 T’s agility really begins to shine. We’re not at 488 GTB levels – there’s a hair too much body roll for that – but the front end, now without 12 cylinders over the front axle, feels noticeably sharper in the now-1865kg GT. Sharper, and more agile, yes, but not unruly, as I’d expected from the rear-wheel drive setup. The revised Slip Slide Control setup – again from the 488 GTB – makes the whole package more playful on the limit than the V12, but the GTC4Lusso is unlikely to barbeque its own rear rubber. The tail will wag when encouraged, especially when the ESP leash is removed and the V8 digs just a little deeper, but the back end will always step out in easily controllable arcs.
It’s tempting then to decree the GTC4Lusso T a success and sign off with an Italian cliché. I can’t quite bring myself to do that though. In truth, despite the impressive panache and composure of the turbocharged V8, I can’t help but wonder whether Ferrari has shot itself in the foot here.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of the sharp steering and playful chassis, plus the punchier new engine, is beyond question, arguably making the V8 T more sports car than GT, but therein lies the problem: in prioritising performance over comfort, the V8 T cannot match its V12 alter-ego in terms of long-distance comfort or refinement, nor is its agility a match for the mid-engined, specially developed 488 GTB customers can purchase for less. Offering a mixture of both could ultimately end up alienating its audience, and it’s unlikely Ferrari had this in-mind for the sixth addition to its model line-up.
*Images courtesy of Awesome Group and Arun M.Nair
Engine: V8, twin-turbo, 3855cc
Power: 630bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm (561lb ft) @ 3,000 – 5,250rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed F1 DCT dual-clutch, rear-wheel drive
Brakes: 398 x 38mm (front), 360 x 32mm (rear)
Wheels: 8.5 J x 20in (front), 10.5 J x 20in (rear)
Tyres: 245/35 ZR20 (front), 295/35 ZR20 (rear)
0-100kph: 3.5 secs
Top speed: 320kph
Weight (kerb): 1865kg (338bhp/ton)