Test Drive: Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T
We took the most Italian of family cars, Ferrari’s GTC4 Lusso, to a very special opera festival in the tiny Italian village of Torre del Lago Puccini, and made some noise.
No matter how much you care about the sound that comes out of a car’s exhaust pipes, I can pretty much guarantee the good people at Ferrari care just that little bit more. They care so much, in fact, that engineers there say they spend as much time tweaking the soundtrack of every new car as they do fine-tuning each model’s engine and driving dynamics.
Teams of people – exhaust conductors if you will – apparently spend countless hours adjusting the exhaust note of every new product the brand launches, dialling in every rumble, crackle and roar, and ensuring every single note is as crisp and rich as possible.
“Every Ferrari has its own unique sound. We always tune the exhaust like you would tune a unique instrument,” one engineer told us.
“You are buying a Ferrari, so you appreciate the sound, and so we specifically create different levels of sound, different tones of the sound, for our customers. It’s impossible to describe. It’s like a song. I can’t tell you what it’s like, you need to hear it to really appreciate it.”
So that explains the spine-tingling growl that erupts from the rear of the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T every time we enter the tunnels that cut through one of Italy’s many mountainous regions, the soundtrack bouncing off the enclosed walls and feeling even louder by the time it makes its way back into the cabin.
The Lusso, Ferrari’s unique take on sensible and practical family transport, is the perfect vehicle for our destination: the Festival Puccini, held in a stunning open-air theatre in Tuscany’s Torre del Lago Puccini. Because if anyone appreciates sound as much, or even more than, the aural engineers of Ferrari, it’s the residents of this tiny town about an hour’s drive from tourist hot-spot Lucca.
Famed composer Giacomo Puccini stumbled across this village – then simply called Torre del Lago – at the end of the 19th Century, immediately falling so deeply in love with it that he spent the next 30 years there. It was on the shores of the town’s lovely lake that he composed his most iconic operas, including Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and La Rondine (1917).
And the admiration was clearly mutual, with the township successful applying for an official name change, adding the suffix Puccini to its name, and, in 1930, launching the world’s only opera festival dedicated to the composer, which now attracts more than 40,000 visitors from across Italy and the world. Not bad for a town of just 11,000 permanent residents.
The Lusso T, though, makes beautiful music of its own. Powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces a scenery-warping 449kW and 760Nm, the Lusso will scream to 100km/h in just 3.5 seconds. Hard to believe, but that makes it the most sane and sedate vehicle in Ferrari’s otherwise utterly insane line-up.
With four seats, actual space for luggage and a ride that won’t shake the hair follicles loose from your head, it’s the Italian brand’s idea of understated family transport. Not every family, though. A $503,888 asking price ensures you’re unlikely to see many parked outside Costco.
There is a fire-breathing V12 option, too, but the V8 feels so perfectly suited to the practical duties of this family-focused Ferrari, I’m not sure why you’d bother parting with the extra $75,000.
The Puccini Festival might be just one of the thousands of events that occur across Italy every year, but it’s also one of the most achingly beautiful. The sun setting over Lake Massaciuccoli, the symphony swelling, the operatic verve of Nessun Dorma reaching its crescendo – it’s a moment impossible to forget.
And yet it’s a bittersweet symphony. Because with the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T parked outside, its handcrafted exhaust pipes sitting silent, I can’t help but feel there’s another, much louder concert I’m missing.
(Lead image: Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T / image: Ferrari)
Published 22 February, 2019