Noise, Vi­bra­tion & Harsh­ness

Automobile - - Contents - By Jamie Kit­man

Brav­ing Cana­dian win­ter in search of Dan­ish co­zi­ness— in a Fer­rari, nat­u­rally.

WE DON’T HAVE a word for it, but the Danes do. Hygge (pro­nounced hoo-guh) can be used as a noun, a verb, or an ad­jec­tive, il­lus­tra­tive per­haps of the fact that it sig­ni­fies plenty. It’s not just a qual­ity of mind but also a trea­sured part of the Dan­ish na­tional char­ac­ter, a phi­los­o­phy of life. It’s about find­ing the joy in your sit­u­a­tion. In a north­ern do­main, it’s a pur­suit that nec­es­sar­ily in­volves em­brac­ing the cold, which is om­nipresent.

But hygge is also about cel­e­brat­ing the many op­por­tu­ni­ties cold presents for get­ting cozy. It’s the quest for cozy and the value of cozy it­self, a handy way of look­ing at the world if you live in an en­vi­ron­ment where things tend to the Nordic, tem­per­a­ture-wise. It also makes a sen­si­ble strat­egy for the rest of us—look at the bright side, em­brace the hand you’ve got, find the joy, or, at least, shut up and deal with it.

Which is per­haps why it sud­denly seemed an ob­vi­ous idea on a cold win­ter’s morn­ing to lean into hygge and drive a 640-horse­power Fer­rari GTC4Lusso from my chilly New York home to frozen Quebec for a few days of get­ting ex­tra bold in a land of cold.

To bet­ter em­brace the cos­mic chill, my first stop was the sleepy ham­let of Saint-Gabriel-de-Val­cartier, near Quebec City, where stands—in win­ter only—the Hô­tel de Glace, one of two ice ho­tels in the world. (The other is in Swe­den.) Built each year by dozens of skilled ar­ti­sans who de­scend on a site ad­ja­cent to Val­cartier, a win­ter sports park and con­ven­tional ho­tel, it’s a won­drous ed­i­fice but more spar­tan than it looks.

Key guest take­aways? No run­ning wa­ter, no in­door bath­rooms, and a heated porta-potty found just a 100-yard high-speed dash away in the mi­nus-3-de­gree weather. Fur­ther set­ting the scene, a frozen, or­nately carved room of your own, with a bed made of ice, a thin mat­tress, and a large sleep­ing bag, plus you and your ther­mal un­der­wear at­tempt­ing to ac­cess dream­land at 21 de­grees, which sounds pretty cold for a ho­tel room but bet­ter than the sub­zero temp out­side. There’s no need to come pre­pared, ei­ther—your phone bat­tery will soon die, and your bot­tled wa­ter will freeze. But don’t for­get a wool hat. Then zip­per it tight and find the co­zi­ness in the no­joke sleep­ing bag they’ve sup­plied while you fo­cus on the con­cept of warmth like you’ve never fo­cused be­fore. It will come, and when it does, it’s a near re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence. That said, I wouldn’t be sur­prised to learn that few ice ho­tel guests ever spend more than a sin­gle night and fewer still con­sec­u­tive nights.

But with all this power (514 lb-ft of nat­u­rally as­pi­rated torque, too) comes re­spon­si­bil­ity as ex­pressed in 21st cen­tury Fer­rari’s now-im­plicit prom­ise that its hand­some repos­i­to­ries of mil­lion­aire money are se­ri­ous dis­tance run­ners with, in the GTC4’s case, gen­uine all-weather ca­pa­bil­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity. If it’s all it pur­ports to be—and the com­pany was re­laxed enough about its ca­pa­bil­i­ties to loan it out for a long jaunt to Canada—why not in the spirit of hygge em­brace the cold with this ex­otic steed and use it just as one might use any other car?

Set­tling into the leather-lined cabin for the first time, the idea made in­stant sense as a cruis­ing al­ti­tude of hygge per­fec­tion is quickly achieved. Dark, taste­ful Cuoio brown leather seats present as Ital­ianate but splen­didly cozy. With pre­mium ma­te­ri­als and switchgear ro­bust enough for long-dis­tance duty, the Lusso is not far off a high-end Mercedes for bankvault so­lid­ity. It steers wonderfully and rides nicer than most, com­fort­able but com­posed and ready to take ad­van­tage of as much of its am­ple horse­power over­sup­ply as a driver and the car’s elec­tronic sta­bil­ity- and trac­tion­con­trol sys­tems deem pru­dent. Noth­ing rat­tles. Ev­ery­thing works and then keeps work­ing for




close to 1,500 brisk, of­ten snow-slammed miles—wipers, washers, heat, Blue­tooth phone, and an in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with an op­tional pas­sen­ger dis­play that’s many kilo­me­ters on from the ap­palling in­ter­faces that blighted so many Ital­ian con­veyances of re­cent mem­ory.

The Fer­rari rolled down win­try roads as safely and con­fi­dently as any­thing else on them, com­ing to the fight prop­erly pre­pared with rear­biased all-wheel drive and so­phis­ti­cated trac­tion con­trol. Our test car’s op­tional 20-inch rims are painted, forged, and sport­ing Pirelli Win­ter Sot­tozero 3s. I was as glad to have the big grip of big, fancy win­ter tires then as I am ec­static now that I won’t be pay­ing to re­place them when their time comes.

For re-en­try to the truly cozy after the night of sleep­ing on ice and a day spent driv­ing on snow, I headed the next day for Haut Bois Dor­mant in NotreDame-des-Bois, a charm­ing (and well-heated!) bed and break­fast where chef Julie De­mers pre­pares world-class meals—dare I say cozy—with lo­cal in­gre­di­ents at set bar­gain prices. Nearby, the In­ter­na­tional Dark Sky Re­serve and Mont-Mé­gan­tic Ob­ser­va­tory of­fer spec­tac­u­lar views of the north­ern skies, thanks to the re­gion’s un­par­al­leled lack of man-made night light­ing.

Tem­per­a­tures plum­meted trav­el­ing through Canada, but com­fort­able seats and po­tent seat warm­ers meant there were no dis­ap­point­ments in the cos­set­ing ways de­part­ment, and the all-glass panoramic roof lit up the cabin of the gri­gio ferro metal­lic test car con­sid­er­ably, mak­ing the rear seat­ing po­si­tions airy and quite plau­si­ble if your legs aren’t too long. Front and rear cam­eras re­duced ter­ror in park­ing sit­u­a­tions, but the ab­sence of a wiper for the rear wind­screen did seem an over­sight and a hygge dis­in­cen­tive.

From here it was on to Hô­tel Nel­li­gan in frosty Old Montreal. It’s named after a teenage poet who wasn’t right with the world; he spent the bet­ter part of his life, un­aware of his fame, in a men­tal asy­lum, which the sleek ho­tel surely does not re­sem­ble. In Montreal, how­ever, you could go nuts in the name of co­zi­ness con­tin­u­ously as­sault­ing your cor­po­real be­ing with indige­nous fare such as smoked meats, bagels, and pou­tine, plus too many oth­ers to list. So I did.

Hap­pily there were dry stretches of pave­ment de­spite the cold on the ride back to Amer­ica and home. And here is where the cozy re­ally came in. For as good as the Lusso proved at trundling through the muck, its tractable engine, aided and abet­ted by a nine-speed pad­dle-shifted gear­box, made for ex­cit­ing times where the tar­mac was dry and the coast was clear. As sweet as a sewing ma­chine but with the pull of a lo­co­mo­tive, if I be granted per­mis­sion to pile up some clichés on the Fer­rari V-12’s be­half, it’s blessed with a sound­track and af­fect that hap­pily tog­gle be­tween strong but mild to blis­ter­ingly ex­plo­sive. I don’t know what this has to do with hygge ex­actly. But it helped me find the joy within. AM

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