Ferrari offers its buyers myriad customization options, but this “choice is yours” philosophy generally doesn’t extend to powertrains. And yet that’s what we have with the introduction of the GTC4Lusso T, which offers a twin-turbocharged V-8 rather than the GTC4Lusso’s naturally aspirated V-12.
The GTC4Lusso, you’ll recall, is an evolution of the pioneering Ferrari FF, the 2012 model that brought a shooting-brake body style and all-wheel drive to the four-place Ferrari grand touring car. The GTC4Lusso massaged the styling (to pleasing effect), as well as other aspects of the car, but left the powertrain layout alone. The Lusso T, which will be sold alongside the Lusso, uses Ferrari’s twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8 seen also in the Portofino. (The 488GTB’s 3.9-liter is slightly different, with a 1.0-millimeter-longer stroke.)
This isn’t just an engine swap, however. The Lusso T also ditches the V-12 car’s complicated and unusual all-wheel-drive system in favor of simpler, lighter rear-wheel drive. The sum of those two changes results in a claimed weight loss of 121 pounds. As that reduction all comes off the front end, the rear weight bias increases to 54 percent from 53.
The V-8, though, is the heart of the matter. Compared with the older, shorter-stroke 3.9 in the California T, the flat-plane-crankshaft V-8 gets new pistons and intercoolers, a revised air intake, and a new exhaust system. Max output is 602 horsepower at 7500 rpm versus 591 for the Portofino and 661 for the 488GTB, while peak torque for all three is an identical 561 lb-ft at 3000 rpm. The 6.3-liter V-12 in the GTC4Lusso makes another 78 horsepower, which comes 500 rpm higher up the tach, but less torque: 514 lb-ft at 5750 rpm.
Ferrari claims the V-8 car is just 0.1 second behind the V-12 in the sprint from zero to 62 mph (3.5 seconds versus 3.4), while its top speed is 199 mph against the 12-pot’s 208. Still, there’s little danger that the GTC4Lusso T will get left behind at a stoplight. Paired with Ferrari’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle, its response is immediate and turbo lag is a nonissue. There’s all kinds of power here, and without all-wheel drive to help get the grunt to the ground, a stab of the throttle at 50 mph or even quickly jumping out into traffic is enough to give the traction control a quick workout. At any speed, frenetic acceleration is just an ankle flex away. This car loves to blur the scenery; it’s hard to imagine the Lusso T driver is giving up much compared to the pilot of the V-12.
There are more subjective measures, however. Ferrari points to the V-8’s flat-plane crankshaft and equal-length exhaust manifolds as key elements in delivering an exotic wail despite the muffling effect of turbochargers. When the revs climb past 5000 rpm on the way to the 8000-rpm redline, the engine delivers that exotic Ferrari sound. Below that, however, this engine is fairly muted, and the exhaust note is more mundane. The manettino selector’s Sport setting opens a flap in the exhaust, but the note seems to change only under light-throttle cruising. Come to a stop, and the engine goes silent; this is rectified by switching off the standard auto stop/start via a button on the windshield header.
Ferrari says it wanted the lighter, rear-drive Lusso T to have a sportier feel than the V-12 model and that it reprogrammed the electronically controlled dampers and four-wheel-steering system accordingly. That may be the case, but we suspect that where any such differences become evident is far outside the realm most drivers will experience every day. In our roughly 150-mile drive in New York City and its northern environs, we found the GTC4Lusso T to be very much a grand tourer.
As befits a grand tourer, the Lusso T’s cabin is sybaritic. The driver’s chair offers tremendous thigh support. Seeing out of this Ferrari is easier than in most high-performance coupes, owing to the generous glass area and the relatively narrow pillars. The optional panoramic glass roof was fitted to the car we drove, and it further brightens the interior—while surely adding substantial mass, if you’re the type to care about such things.
The steering wheel is a complicated, Formula 1–style affair adorned with all manner of controls, including push buttons on the spokes for the turn signals, an ignition button, the wiper switch, and the driving-mode manettino knob, but acclimating to all of it is surprisingly easy. Our Lusso T also had optional LEDs at the top of the rim that illuminate as you approach redline, a neat flourish. Behind the wheel are the oversize carbon-fiber shift paddles, which you’ll want to play with just because they’re so tactile.