PUNTA ALA, Italy—The FF is the only recent Ferrari that didn’t sell like, well, a Ferrari. In an effort to spur demand for the four-seat shooting brake, Maranello added a V-8 model along with its facelift, which revived the GTC4 Lusso moniker. At the same time, chief designer Flavio Manzoni did what he could to freshen up the looks and bring the ancient infotainment system up to date.
Despite its smaller engine and roughly $40,000 lighter price tag, the 2018 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T is hardly a Prancing Horse for peasants. The starting price is still above the cost of a house in most of the country and every option available on the 6.3-liter V-12-powered Lusso is also available for the T.
One look at the spec sheet is all it takes to confirm that the GTC4 Lusso T isn’t a brand-new car. It contains a detailed description of the engine and chassis, plus a list of impressive performance figures (0-62 mph in 3.5 sec, top speed of 199 mph), but there is no mention of advanced assistance systems, partial electrification, or adjustable sway bars.
Though it doesn’t get the car up to speed quite as quickly as the 680-hp V-12, the 600-hp twin-turbo V-8 plots a more impressive torque curve, which climaxes at 560 lb-ft between 3,000 and 5,250 rpm—46 lb-ft more than the naturally aspirated 12-cylinder. Not surprisingly, the smaller powerplant also uses almost 25 percent less fuel.
Every GTC4 comes with Ferrari’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, though in the Lusso T it sends power to just the rear wheels instead of all four. Even in auto mode, the adaptive box rarely puts a cog wrong, but purists will always reach for the quarter-moon carbon-fiber shift paddles and Sport mode.
It takes a couple of hours to make friends with this new GTC4 Lusso T. Notably more light-footed, it likes to corner in nip-and-tuck mode, hanging on reassuringly long only to break away abruptly when the 245/35ZR20 front tires feel the heat or when the 295/35ZR20 rears feel like playing. Switch off stability control and nothing will likely change for a dozen bends or two. After all, the grip level is still phenomenal, and the armada of acronyms—E-Diff/SSC3/CST/F1 TRAC/ESP 9.0/SCM-E—does a fine job supporting balance and composure.
Still, power oversteer is the name of the game as this Ferrari prefers sliding over carving. There is almost always enough torque on tap to light the Pirellis, but the trouble is one needs room to play with this big fish. While its rear-wheel steering attempts to cushion the slide, front-end grip is limited, so it takes a fairly hard stab on the throttle to push the Lusso T sideways. Not an antic for the faint hearted.
Even with ESC on deck, the rear axle must cope with latent plucking, pulling and twitching forces that can send minor shockwaves all the way to the driver’s palms. A mix of uneven surfaces and erratic torque feed will, even on a straight piece of road, induce a fair amount of shadow boxing. And as soon as any kind of radius enters the equation, things can get queasy along the car’s vertical axis.
A softer setting can be summoned for the adjustable suspension with the press of a button. The extra compliance is welcome when the time comes to navigate something less smooth than the German autobahn, such as secondary Italian roads dotted with drastic camber variations, impromptu transverse ridges, and frost-bitten shoulders.
At the end of the day, I am exhausted and intrigued by the latest driving machine from Maranello. You see, this Ferrari is a loose cannon in more ways than one. Even though the lighter front end improves the weight distribution by two points to a tail-heavier 46/54 percent front/rear, the GTC4 Lusso T fuses emphatic body motions with obvious traction issues. While there is now less mass resting on the correspondingly lighter steering, front-wheel drive assistance has vanished, and with it, torque vectoring. All of which makes the Lusso T a more dynamic and defiant razor-edge drive.
2018 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T Specifications
|ENGINE||3.9L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/600 hp @ 7,500 rpm,
560 lb-ft @ 3,000-5,250 rpm
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD hatchback|
|EPA MILEAGE||15/21 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||193.4 x 78.0 x 54.5 in|
|0-62 MPH||3.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||199 mph (est)|