The V12 2+2s

Evo India - - FERRARI 70TH – THE EVO YEARS -

FER­RARI 2+2s HAVE AL­WAYS BEEN a source of fascination. Ex­cep­tions that prove the rule, they take a tan­gen­tial path from Maranello’s well-es­tab­lished model lines to of­fer some­thing al­to­gether dif­fer­ent. Al­ways un­pre­dictable, they are ec­cen­tric con­veyances for a small but dis­cern­ing group of cus­tomers.

evo’s first ex­po­sure to this kind of Fer­rari was 2004’s 612 Scagli­etti. To say its styling chal­lenged con­ven­tion is an un­der­state­ment. I’m not sure I’ve ever at­tended a launch where there was greater un­ease over a car’s styling, or a car that was such a de­par­ture from its pre­de­ces­sor (the beau­ti­ful 456 GT), yet when I see a Scagli­etti in 2017, I think it looks sen­sa­tional. Go fig­ure.

Much like its styling, the 612 ush­ered in a new era for Fer­rari’s 2+2s – one in which its con­struc­tion mir­rored its all-alu­minium sta­ble­mates and its 5.7-litre 533bhp V12 was slung be­hind the front axle for a front-mi­dengined lay­out. The tech rev­o­lu­tion didn’t sweep away all traces of the past, though, as the 612 came with a man­ual trans­mis­sion as stan­dard. That said, most were or­dered with the op­tional F1A sin­gle-clutch pad­dleshift gear­box, mak­ing stick-shift Scagli­et­tis more like uni­corns than Pranc­ing Horses.

It might have looked a bit un­gainly, but the 612 had a beau­ti­ful bal­ance and bulk-be­ly­ing poise that en­cour­aged you to drive it as a Fer­rari should be driven. On the launch, that meant a blast up to 300kmph on the au­tostrada. And be­fore you say any­thing, that sort of behaviour was ac­cept­able in Italy in 2004.

Look­ing back, it was a spe­cial car. One that of­fered a unique range of abil­i­ties and re­vealed a glimpse of Fer­rari’s ma­ture side, con­fi­dently lay­ing claim to be­ing the world’s best four-seater.

It’s an in­di­ca­tion of Fer­rari’s world­li­ness that in 2011 it re­placed the 612 with the FF. A car more suited to the tastes of in­creas­ingly in­flu­en­tial Rus­sian and Chi­nese mar­kets, the FF’s all-wheel drive and shoot­ing-brake styling were an even greater de­par­ture from the norm.

Like the 612, it was a big car; Audi RS6 Avant big. Yet its whirring, tur­bine-smooth V12 en­gine en­sured it could hurl it­self down the road like a su­per­car. Think 3.7sec to 100kmph and an Enzo-chas­ing top speed of 335kmph. Gone was the choice of man­ual or pad­dles, but to be hon­est the per­for­mance and de­meanour of the FF com­bined with the ef­fec­tive­ness of the DCT gear­box re­ally had ren­dered the stick-shift ob­so­lete.

I loved the idea of the FF, but never truly fell for the re­al­ity of it. The ab­sur­dity of it still tick­les me to this day – I mean to say, who would have pre­dicted Fer­rari would build a 651bhp, all-wheel drive, three-door es­tate car? – and the in­te­rior is a fab­u­lous place to be. But when­ever I drove one I never quite gelled with it.

FLargely be­cause it had the same rapid re­ac­tions as the true sports cars in the Fer­rari range, yet would have felt bet­ter if its fo­cus was to soothe rather than stim­u­late.

And so to the less-than-snap­pily ti­tled GTC4 Lusso. Un­like the jump from 456 to 612, and then to FF, this was an in­cre­men­tal evolution rather than a com­plete rev­o­lu­tion. The en­gine now has 680bhp (there’s also a 602bhp V8-pow­ered Lusso T), the gear­box is quick­er­wit­ted, the AWD has been fur­ther de­vel­oped with four­wheel steer. Per­haps in­evitably, it hasn’t made the same leaps in per­for­mance and, per­haps dis­ap­point­ingly, it re­mains a some­what con­fused propo­si­tion. And yet the world is most def­i­nitely a bet­ter place with a quirky 2+2 Fer­rari in it. Long may that con­tinue.

Top: Styling of the 612 Scagli­etti didn’t ex­actly go down a storm in 2004, but it’s prov­ing to be a grower. Above: GTC4 Lusso con­tin­ued the shoot­ing-brake theme with four-wheel steer and 680bhp

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