Despite a profound affection for his firm’s two-seaters, Enzo Ferrari preferred 2+2 GT cars for personal use in his later years. This is simply because the founder of the famed Italian supercar manufacturer found these four-seaters much more practical — so much so that in 1980 he worked with design firm Pininfarina to design a larger, four-door, four-seat Ferrari. A four-door concept was made, but the car never saw production. While Enzo thought it would have been a practical car, automotive technology of the day meant that its performance was too compromised, and not very Ferrari-like, so the project was abandoned.

Forty-two years later, technology has finally caught up with Enzo’s idea. The company has just launched the Purosangue, and this time Ferrari’s first-ever production four-door sports car promises performance and handling worthy of the prancing horse — and no compromises. And yes, it’s a sports car, so don’t call it an SUV.

This new four-door Ferrari is not built on an existing platform; the Purosangue is new from the ground up. The first indication that it’s not, as previously labelled in reports, an SUV, is its sleek, flowing silhouette. While it sits higher than any other car in Ferrari’s line up, its roofline is nonetheless low if compared to an SUV or crossover. It rolls on ultra-wide 22-inch front and 23-inch rear wheels, and stops via massive carbon-ceramic brakes.

And unlike SUVs, which strive to squeeze as many occupants as possible into the cabin, the Purosangue seats only four. Each of the occupants will feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, because all four seats are the same, as is the seating position, which is similar to that in the firm’s supercars. The interior is spacious enough to seat four adults comfortably; with the driver’s seat adjusted for my six-foot frame, there’s enough leg- and headroom in the rear to seat another six-footer back there. To make access to the rear easier, the rear doors are hinged at the rear. There’s 473 litres of storage space behind the rear seats, which fold down to expand capacity, though that spec is undisclosed because let’s face it: a potential Purosangue owner probably doesn’t care.

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue V12 Photo by Ferrari

While Ferrari could have taken the opportunity to further show off the potent, 2.9-litre turbocharged V6 hybrid powertrain introduced in the 296 GTB, hardcore Ferraristi will be happy to learn that the company chose rather to stick with tradition by dropping a 6.5-litre, naturally aspirated V12 under the Purosangue’s long hood. The engine has been reworked with a longer stroke, new cams and a redesigned intake, and a number of friction-reducing measures have been applied. Claiming 725 horsepower and 528 lb-ft of torque, it’s more powerful than the firm’s first hatchback model, the FF, and its successor, GTC4 Lusso, both sporting four seats. However, the engine is tuned to produce 80 per cent of its torque from just 2,200 rpm. It mates to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox that features close ratios from first to seventh gears, with eighth being taller for relaxed highway cruising.

Reinforcing the claim that this is not an SUV, the Purosangue has a unique mid-front engine configuration that contributes to a sports-car-like 49.5/50.5 front/rear weight distribution. The engine is mounted behind the front wheels, with the gearbox mounted at the rear of the engine driving the rear wheels, and a power-transfer unit mounted at the front that drives the front wheels.

Ferrari looked to existing models to apply some new technology to the Purosangue. Among them is the 296 GTB, from which it borrows the brake-by-wire system, though it has been tuned to also handle low-traction environments, like driving off pavement. It also borrows from the 812 Competizione: it has four-wheel steering, with independently controlled rear wheels.

The aluminum chassis is all new, and includes boxed extrusions joined by hollow castings, and despite being larger than Ferrari’s other four-seaters, it is lighter and stiffer. Aluminum, high-strength steel and carbon fibre comprise the body panels, all bonded together with structural adhesive for strength and light weight. Claimed dry weight is 2,033 kg.

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Photo by Ferrari

While various aerodynamic elements have been borrowed from other Ferrari models, there are no active aerodynamics, so no spoilers that rise and lower and no flaps that open to assist airflow — a decision Ferrari says was made to save weight. Astute SUV owners will note that the Purosangue lacks a rear wiper. Instead, this sports car utilises a spoiler to redirect airflow to clear the rear window.

One technology that the Purosangue features that is unique among Ferrari models is active suspension. Developed in conjunction with Canadian automotive engineering firm Multimatic, the suspension constantly adjusts ride height and damping to match road conditions. The 48-volt system is programmed to counter body roll when cornering hard, thus eliminating the need for anti-roll bars, and it lowers the car by 10 mm at high speeds.

Note, however, that the Purosangue is “not a Jeep.” It’s not expected that owners will load it with camping and fishing gear and release it into the wild. And there’s no off-road mode on the steering-wheel Manettino dial. It’s instead designed to handle like a thoroughbred Ferrari should on pavement, yet its added ground clearance (185 mm) makes it a much better choice on winding gravel roads to the cottage than, say, the SF90.

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue V12 Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue V12 Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue chassis Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue PTU Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue CAMBIO Photo by Ferrari

first look: 2023 ferrari purosangue

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Multimatic suspension Photo by Ferrari

The Purosangue is probably the most anticipated new Ferrari to come along in a long time, and it had already set a pre-order record before any images of the car had even been released to potential buyers. Ferrari did give a heads-up to a number of loyal customers, contacting them and offering an opportunity to order one in advance, by revealing just a few details of the car.

However, while the early interest is high, Ferrari has no plans on making the Purosangue a high-volume car, and it will represent no more than 20 per cent of total production. Yes, the expectation is that it will potentially drive up the number of first-time Ferrari buyers, but in reality, it’s more likely that most customers will be adding the Purosangue to their existing collection of Italian exotics. And in keeping with Enzo’s vision, the Purosangue is much more practical than any other car in Ferrari’s line up, while apparently giving up almost nothing in terms of handling and performance.

Deliveries will begin in Europe in the second quarter of 2023, with North America receiving its first Purosangue models in the fourth quarter. Only European pricing has been released to date, at 390,000 Euros (approx. CAD$520,000).

Keyword: First Look: 2023 Ferrari Purosangue

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