Ferrari Purosangue first drive: a Ferrari unlike any other

John Carey,
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In other Ferraris the exhaust pipes produce the best music. But the new Ferrari Purosangue isn’t like anything else the Italian brand has ever made.

This $700,000-plus thoroughbred – which is what “Purosangue” means in Italian – isn’t only the first-ever Ferrari with four doors. The four-seater is also, surprisingly, the first-ever model from Maranello to have properly premium audio.

The 21-speaker 3D high-end surround sound system by Berlin-based Burmester is brilliant. I’ve never heard better. It’s powerful throughout the frequency range, yet reveals every tiny musical detail. You hear stuff that is simply inaudible on lesser systems.

Right now it’s playing a Beatles track and the volume is cranked up loud enough to completely drown the voice of the V12 under the Purosangue’s long bonnet.

The excellent audio system, as much as the Purosangue’s shape and size, signal that this is a departure from Ferrari’s normal playlist. It’s aimed at those looking for more luxury, comfort and practicality than anything else that’s ever worn a Ferrari badge before.

And this makes it a controversial car. Ferrari bosses have long promised the brand would never produce an SUV. Not even a crossover.

Yet the Purosangue’s body has a taller profile and more ground clearance than other Ferraris. It’s all-wheel-drive, too. As well as having four truly spacious seats, the car’s cargo compartment is bigger than any other Ferrari. The fold-flat rear seats also mean the space back there delivers hatchback-like versatility.

The company line is that the Purosangue is “an authentic Ferrari four-door sports car”. You can make up your own mind if that’s fantasy or fact. What can’t be denied is that the heart of the Purosangue is tech transplanted from other Ferraris.

Its high-revving 6.5-litre V12 is basically the same engine as in the 812 Superfast, Ferrari’s top GT model. Its rear-mounted eight-speed double-clutch gearbox is the same as that in the SF90 Stradale and 296 GTB, Ferrari’s latest plug-in hybrid sports cars. Its all-wheel-drive tech is an update of the system used in the GTC4 Lusso, a three-door GT model that looked like a sleek shooting-brake wagon.

The Lusso is the car the Purosangue replaces in the line-up.

And some of the Purosangue’s exterior recycles ideas seen on earlier Ferraris, such as the “aerobridge” that first appeared on the F12 Berlinetta more than a decade ago.

Other features are new, like the “floating” wheel-arch design Ferrari has patented.

These are not visibly connected to the bodywork above.

Plenty of other delightful details adorn the Purosangue’s shapely and muscular exterior, but you’ll search in vain for rear door handles. The powered rear doors swing open on a hefty single rear hinge, but only once you’ve discovered the small external toggle switch to activate them.

Inside is the most luxurious interior of any Ferrari ever made. The opulent instrument panel doesn’t have the usual centre screen; instead there are separate screens ahead of each seat. The individual rear seats, which feature electric adjustment, are near-duplicates of those in the front.

The Purosangue doesn’t drive exactly like any other Ferrari. Some parts of the experience are familiar, such as the immense power of its high-revving V12, the eyeblink-swift shifting of its double-clutch gearbox, the speed and precision of its steering.Ferrari staged the presentation of the Purosangue in the snowy mountains of northern Italy and all the test cars wore winter tyres.

These worked very well on a track covered in deep snow, but didn’t deliver a lot of grip on winding roads with slippery, grit-covered corners. This made it impossible to fully explore the car’s acceleration, braking and cornering limits.

The Purosangue’s big claim to technical fame is that it’s the first road car in the world equipped with a new kind of shock absorber from Canadian company Multimatic.

These software-controlled and electrically powered devices can push each wheel away from the body or pull it closer. And this means they can counteract body roll and pitch, at the same time as actively ironing out lumps and bumps.

They work. Choose the Soft setting and the Purosangue feels a little like a magic carpet ride, yet its agility is unaffected.

With suspension superpowers to go with its performance, looks and lavish interior, the Purosangue is a different Ferrari, yet it’s desirable for the same reasons as everything else in the range.

ENGINE: 6.5-litre petrol V12
POWER: 533kW/716Nm
CONSUMPTION: 17.3l/100km (WLTP)
PRICE: AU$728,000


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