Ferrari’s Grand Touring Coupe is now available with a turbocharged 3.9-litre V8, in addition to the naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12.

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Ferrari’s Grand Touring Coupe is now available with a turbocharged 3.9-litre V8, in addition to the naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12. 

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JUST last year, Ferrari introduced the FF’s replacement, the V12- powered GTC4Lusso. Less than 12 months later, Ferrari launched the GTC4Lusso T. 

The turbocharging within the hallowed Prancing Horse stables continues apace, but the new Ferrari four-seater is more than just a variant with a turbo V8 engine. Because Ferrari removed the four-wheel-drive system and replaced it with a rear-drive setup, giving the newcomer an interesting twist.  

The mechanical changes are significant, but there are barely any visual clues that identify Maranello’s latest Lusso model. There are only two styling tweaks – a new set of alloy wheels with a different spoke pattern, and redesigned exhaust tailpipe tips which look less ornate than before. 

The 2+2 cabin is unchanged. It still has the impressive 10.25-inch central multimedia touchscreen and Dual Cockpit concept (the co-driver gets an in-dash screen that mirrors some of the info from the driver’s instrument panel, such as engine rpm, speed, Manettino setting, gear position and g-force). Only the graphic displays for the 4RM four- wheel-drive system are gone. Incidentally, all the customisation options for the V12 version are available for the GTC4Lusso T. 

Under the bonnet is the award-winning, bi-turbo 3.9-litre V8 first deployed in the California T, but tuned for 610bhp (up from 560bhp). The output is significantly lower than the 690bhp produced by the GTC4Lusso V12, so as to maintain the company’s “team orders”. 

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Ferrari has taken turbocharging to new heights with its clever Variable Boost Management, which works so well in the V8. The system enabled the engineers to tailor the turbo-boost to create a rising torque curve that mimics a naturally aspirated engine.  

As the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox shifts sequentially from 3rd to 7th gear, the torque curve rises a bit more with each gearchange, until the full plateau of 760Nm is reached in the highest gear. 

While the four-wheel-drive is no more, the four-wheel- steering (4WS) has been retained, reducing the car’s turning circle and resolving the often conflicting parameters of stability and agility. Also carried over is the MagneRide SCM-E suspension. 

The electronically controlled dampers give similar levels of ride comfort as before, but with greater roll stiffness. The damping system is integrated with third-generation Side Slip Control (SSC3), which now has the tricky task of distributing power through just the rear wheels instead of all four. But managing 610bhp should be a breeze for the sophisticated F1-Trac stability control system and E-Diffelectronic differential. 

Even without four-wheel- drive, the GTC4Lusso T zips to 100km/h from a standstill in just 3.5 seconds – an insignificant 0.1 of a second slower than the V12 GTC4Lusso. To 200km/h, the T is 0.3 of a second slower (10.8 seconds), and the T’s 320km/h top speed is 15km/h lower. Such performance is still towering in anyone’s book. 

What’s surprising is how the GTC4Lusso T delivers this level of performance without the fancy 4RM four-wheel-drive system (which takes its drive, via two gears, from the front of the V12 engine). Perhaps the additional traction is mainly marketing- driven. In any case, the removal of 4RM and four cylinders has made the 1865kg V8 Lusso about 55kg lighter than the V12 Lusso, and also gives it a rearward weight bias of 46:54. 

This partly explains why the car is more agile despite lacking the advantage of torque vectoring provided by the 4RM system. Of course, the 4WS augments the high levels of agility and stability, and I wouldn’t underestimate the handling benefit of less weight over the front tyres. 

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The turn-in is so sharp that, initially, I have to reduce the steering lock halfway through a corner so as not to run over the apex. One has to get used to this characteristic before appreciating just how accurately the Ferrari steers as it grips the tarmac.  

There’s not a whole lot of steering feel, but the chassis is so responsive and obedient that it becomes a moot point. The steering could do with a bit more heft, but the engineers settled on this amount of steering-assistance so the driver wouldn’t be fatigued by the “superhuman” grippiness. 

The Lusso’s new-generation Pirelli P Zeros generate phenomenal grip, yet they remain eerily silent when the limit is exceeded. In fact, one only knows the coupe is sliding when the steering goes light and the yellow traction-control warning lamp in the instrument cluster flashes furiously. 

Selecting the Manettino’s Sport mode puts the engine, gearbox and stability aids in attack mode, while the electronic nanny attempts to prolong the neutral cornering stance for as long as possible, rather than let the driver dabble in some oversteer. For that you have to select “ESC Off”, which will deactivate the electronic nanny.  

In Sport mode, the suspension is a little too stiff for town driving, but in Comfort mode, the ride is comfortable in town, while providing pretty decent handling in the mountains. 

For serious driving, the powertrain is best kept primed in its Sport mode and the MagneRide dampers are set to “bumpy road”, which allows more suspension travel to soak up the bumps and not let the chassis be thrown off course. 

I drove the GTC4Lusso T for almost five hours on the glorious mountain roads between Florence and the west coast of Italy. 

Amazingly, the fuel tank only ran into its reserve when I returned to the hotel in the evening. This supports Ferrari’s claim that the V8’s range is 30 percent more than the V12’s – respectively 8.62km and 6.67km per litre. 

Surprises seem to follow Ferrari’s four-seat supercar. First, it was the use of four-wheel-drive, and now, there is a choice of powerful engines. Ferrari model lines used to have only one engine each. This is the first time a turbocharged V8 is offered alongside a naturally aspirated V12 in the Ferrari family. 

Even though turbocharging mutes the lovely soundtrack, Ferrari has tried hard to recover the aural excitement that has always been part of the marque’s charm. Equally important is how turbocharging has brought a new dimension of useful performance to today’s Ferraris. 

With its bountiful torque and frisky character, the V8 GTC4Lusso T is a different Grand Touring Coupe despite looking identical to the V12 GTC4Lusso.