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?

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