A new Ferrari model always gets everyone's attention. The GTC4 Lusso T becomes the 6th model in the Ferrari range, though to some it really is more of an engine variant. That is because it is more or less similar to its V12 sibling - the GTC4 Lusso, except that it has a turbo heart and is rear-wheel-drive. And no other Ferrari has really offered you engine variants before right? That is why as far as the company is concerned this is a new model! That is also because Ferrari says the GTC4 Lusso T has its own client list, and so is a very different proposition. It sees a younger 35-40 year old buyer opting for the V8 over the V12, and also one who will drive this as a daily use car - but one that's up for a weekend getaway too. Ferrari says it is also for its buyers who use a car in high to medium grip conditions and not low-grip conditions. And that is why the V12's all-wheel-drive has been dropped on the GTC4 Lusso T. The other question in my mind was - is this simply the California T's engine plonked into the GTC? The answer to that is also a firm no from Ferrari, even though it sort of is the same engine anyway! I shall explain more as you read on.
So is the car different looking than the GTC4 Lusso, is what you may ask next. Well not really! The tailpipes are different, and you can also get the exclusive design on the 20" wheels. But aside from those two facts there is nothing on the car that will tell you it's not the V12, and is a V8! That 3.9 litre V8 has an output of 610 horses and 760 Nm of torque. This car can do 0-100 kmph in 3.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 320 kmph. What the V8 also gives a Lusso T buyer is an additional 30 per cent range over the V12. Impressed yet? If not, I recommend getting into a GTC4 Lusso T and hitting the start button. The sound is the first thing that will surprise you. I remember saying this about the 488 GTB as well. The absolutely mesmerising and seductive roar of the turbocharged V8 will be music to any Ferrarista's ears! And that sound is distinct to the V12's - giving the Lusso T its own signature.
So let us get straight into it shall we? I began my drive on the new Lusso T in Monteriggioni - a quaint medieval village in Italy's Siena province of Tuscany. The day was bright and so were my spirits as I got on board. The car is agile, and belies its ample form and weight. You get great acceleration with a lot of torque available at low revs. The car comes loaded with all of Ferrari's new electronics and driver aids like the electronic differential, Side Slip Control 3.0 - and four-wheel steering - the reason the car's name retains a '4' despite it not being a 4 wheel drive model. Of course there's also the 4-seater tag that Ferrari had mentioned whilst naming the GTC4 Lusso! The result of that 4-wheel steering is crisper handling and instant response. Of course that part is akin to the V12 car. The GTC4 Lusso T also sports the new Ferrari steering wheel that has all the buttons and switches you need, to enjoy a dynamic drive.
As I got stuck into my drive I noticed the car seemed to have slightly less understeer than the V12. It is marginal really but that comes from its slightly increased 46:54 rear weight bias over the V12's 48:52. The car is also lighter overall and therefore a touch more agile, and very torquey. The peak torque only kicks in at 3000 rpm, but you get no turbo lag. You can hold gears for long, and the car's rev limiter remains unfazed. In fact I had carried on in 3rd gear at one point for quite some time, and the car hummed along without a care or concern. But this almost clinical performance takes away some of the madness you expect from a powerful GT car. Having experienced some of that in the V12 version, maybe I am making an unfair comparison! The car will take every corner with immaculate precision and great ease. Its steering and traction control are also very forgiving, even on gravelly or twisty roads. Of course I had the Manettino on Sport for the most part, though there is also the additional 'bumpy road' mode like on the GTC4 Lusso - for a comfortable ride even on - well - bumpy roads!
Despite everything I have written at the top of this story, I think for me the real question always was - did Ferrari really need to make a turbo, 2-wheel-drive version of the already fantastic GTC4 Lusso. Having driven the car extensively now, I think I understand better why the answer is a resounding yes. The real difference between the two cars is their character. They may look the same but the GTC4 Lusso T has a more sportscar feel, it's eager and raring to go - and like I said never once flinches or let you know it is a 4.89 metre long car! Well in many ways nor does the V12, but that car has a stately, tourer - yes, GT feel, while the Lusso T is the brat. And that there is this difference in their drive appeal, leaves me feeling a bit more satisfied that I have found a good answer to my doubts.
That new updated turbocharged engine is the winner of the 2016 International Engine of the Year for the iteration that powers the 488 GTB. It is a high speed motor and Ferrari has worked on improving its mileage figures and reducing CO2 emissions. How it differs from the California T's engine now: new con-rods and piston rings made with high-resistance copper alloys. The exhaust system has also been redesigned to reduce pressure loss, and that also helps cut lag. There is also a new intercooler and air intake has been redesigned too, to maximise airflow. At engine start, the exhaust valve regulating sound, remains closed - to maintain a moderate note for city/neighbourhood use. In Comfort Mode that valve opens somewhat and starts to give you that distinct sound - yet keeps things moderate. It is only in Sport Mode that it opens completely and sings the full sonata!
Ferrari has also had to redesign the GTC4 Lusso T's suspension to achieve the same performance level as the V12 GTC4 Lusso. And it does that rather well. Magnaride adaptive dampers help swallow bumps and any mild surface changes. But the low profile tyres on those 20 inchers will still allow tiny blips to carry through to the seat. But overall the control and handling is simply top drawer stuff.
The cabin is similar to the V12's, and gives you impeccable leather with stitching all around, nice materials, a big central touchscreen with all the connectivity options your little heart desires. The dash extends with an organic arc around to the passenger side, where besides the car's name badge you get the LCD touchscreen that lets the passenger feel like a co-pilot! It allows you to manipulate navigation and music, and view the car's real-time performance, besides what drive mode the Manettino is set to. The rear seats are best for not-so-big adults or your kids of course!
The GTC4 Lusso will arrive in India this year, though there is still no official launch date. And as for the Lusso T, it will also follow and should get to us by the third quarter of 2018. So yes it is still some way off. But the good news is that India will get both cars, and that allows Ferrari to appeal in some way at least to the luxury set that is seeking not just exhilaration but also some practicality and go-anywhere flexibility from their ultra-premium sports ride. Frankly for those who don't really absolutely need the 4WD option, the GTC4 Lusso T is the better car for its sportiness, higher mileage and overall attribute. So wait for it. If you are one of the fortunate few who can afford one.