FERRARI CHERRY POPPED
You never forget the first time. Never. The first time you drive a scarlet Ferrari is always special. Always!
The asst ed gets bowled over by the Prancing Horse
I WAS EIGHT AND ROOTED TO THE spot. I knew that my brother thought she was special. I was still short enough to have to look up at her. But in spite of it all, I was in love. Her form, her beauty excited me. Like my brother, I wanted her in my life. In my bedroom. Dressed in an exotic shade of red, she fired my imagination like nothing else before had. I didn’t even know her name, and wouldn’t for many years. The only thing I knew was I had to have her if it was the last thing I ever did. Years later, I would know the poster was that of a Ferrari F40. As exotic as only an Italian could be, she was a legend. With the knowledge would also come the realisation of what the name Ferrari meant and how out of reach each pedigreeladen model was, and would forever be. Little did I know that life, in her own inexplicable ways, would prove me utterly wrong.
Nearly thirty years later, I find myself grinning like a complete idiot as her sexy rear steps out of line before she steps back in. The way the Ferrari 812 Superfast corners if you push her harder than your pay grade allows you to, is so thrilling and exciting that you’ll forget numbers and all you’ll see on the register is a jackpot. The feral sound of that 788bhp free breathing six and a half litre V12 is a drug that makes other contraband sound tame. And then there is the sheer sensation of that monstrous acceleration born of a giant 718Nm of shove arriving at 7000rpm.
The road leading up to the twisties of Jebel Jais outside Dubai is the same three-lane road, two for climbing up and one for going down, that has been made famous in a certain Bugatti Chiron video, and is without doubt one of the best driving roads I have ever been on. Its surface could put many a European highway to tears of shame. It is beautifully empty. And it doesn’t have a single speed camera. You can go as fast as you dare and as far as you like until the border patrol and the Oman-UAE border will politely tell you to hang a U and head back.
This sunny, yet surprisingly pleasant, morning with absolutely no one else for company, either in the passenger seat or on the road, I take the fastest line up, using the full width of the road. Gingerly at first, and then faster, and faster still until I’m breathless with a boyish exhilaration I haven’t felt in years. I marvel at the speed with which cogs are swapped in the F1 inspired 7-speed dual clutch transmission. You only have to think about tugging on those large business-like paddle shifters and you’ll find the car in the cog of your choice, ready to charge ahead. And her charge is not the brute charge of a rugby player on the field. It is the graceful yet relentless onslaught of a hungry feline chasing its prey, which in this case happens to be the next turn.
I know I’m approaching faster than I have ever approached any corner in my whole damn life but the Ferrari, despite its humongous reserves of power and seemingly wild attitude, inspires confidence. A dab on the massive brakes sees her hunker down for the right-handed hairpin. Turning in, I can’t recall a steering that felt more alive and more direct. I get past the apex and with the nose pointed at the next corner, floor it. Her first reaction is to let the tail slide out, kicking off that stupid grin that breaks the focused concentration etched on my face. In the best traditions of an Italian belle, she demands your complete and undivided attention, and you’d better give it. Just a little bit of opposite
Dressed in an exotic shade of
red, she fires my imagination like nothing else before
lock later, the 275-section front and 315-section front and rear tyres regain traction and propel you towards the next turn-in point at a sound barrier shattering pace while my mind races ahead to match it.
An exhilarating hour of going up and down (you’ll never be happy if you do it just once) later, I’m cruising back to the exotic hotel Jumeirah Zabeel Saray where the other Ferrari awaits me. Life it seems has decided to let me play millionaire for an entire weekend before I head back to reality! Driving into the porch, I hand over the keys to the waiting valet and pass on the ticket to my other car while people stare at this unlikely Ferrari owner. A mouth or two opens and shuts silently when they see me switch from one Ferrari to another. Inside the four-seater cabin of the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T and out of sight, I can’t help but smirk. What do they know about who I am!
Unlike the Berlinetta-inspired Italian exotica that I have been sampling till now, the car I’m in now is Ferrari’s idea of a practical vehicle. After the monstrous V12 of the 812, the GTC4 Lusso T’s twin-turbo 3.9-litre 90-degree V8 and its 602bhp shouldn’t have felt special. But the thing is, this four-seater Ferrari actually offers quite a bit more torque at 760Nm. All of which is of course channelled to the rear wheels via a similarly supersonic 7-speed gearbox. As a result, its 0-100kmph time of 3.5 seconds isn’t as far from the 812’s 2.9 seconds as one might have presumed.
Even on the handling front, you won't miss out on the grins. Thanks to the safety net provided by the mob of Italian electonickery at your disposal, you can really push the car around. I did, and I cannot tell you how much
fun it turned out to be after I stuck it in Sport mode and went for it. The Manettino offers five – Snow, Wet, Comfort, Sport and ESC off. The four-wheel steering is a little tricky at first. You assume the car will take a certain amount of space to turn and then it goes ahead and turns tighter. Throw it into a corner hard and there’s more than a hint of oversteer. Not in the snappy and unpredictable way that will end up nastily, but nicely and smoothly, transforming smiles to grins with careless ease.
The only thing you will actually miss is the soundtrack. The forced induction V8 sounds nothing like the muscular naturally aspirated V12. In fact, it doesn’t even have that V8 snarl that you’d get in those big bore naturally aspirated V8s from Uncle Sam’s backyard.
Back on the 12-lane highway back to Dubai, the Lusso T’s core strength comes under the spotlight. At 120kmph and on the edge of legality, she feels completely at ease. There is no discomfort at the idea of staying with the traffic around and not at its head. In fact, the GTC4 Lusso T tours effortlessly. If she were an American I'd even say she cruises effortlessly. But cruise isn't befitting a hot blooded Italian.
At the hotel, I park it next to the 812 Superfast and can't help but wonder at how different the two are and yet how both are incredibly Ferrari in their attitude.
I am rooted to the spot. My brother would have killed me to be right here for they are special. Short enough for me to be able to look right past them and yet I feel I’m in love. Their form, their beauty excite me. Like my brother, I www.evoIndia.com 99 want them in my life. In my bedroom. Dressed in exotic shades of red and grey, they fire my imagination. I am eight again. ⌧
Top: The seat that really matters is not the one without the wheel. Centre: A 12-cylinder orchestra packaged in a bright red box. Above: Even the co-passenger is made to feel like she's in control. In a Ferrari the passenger has to be a she. There is...
Top right: The prancing horse and the Manettino never let you forget you're in a Ferrari. So what if it's practical too?