First Drive: Shredding Ferrari’s Super SUV Purosangue Through The Alps

The first-ever “Ferrari Utility Vehicle” is in a league of its own thanks to incredible power and supercar-like handling.

(Ferrari)

The lion does not concern himself with the opinions of sheep, a father once grunted angrily to his ne’er-do-well scion. For some reason the words echo in my head as we climb sheer Italian mountain roads, furiously working the F1-inspired, eight-speed/dual-clutch paddles like a PS5 controller.

And while Tywin Lannister may have been discussing the diabolical machinations of Game of Thrones while he cleaned a freshly killed stag with surgeon-like precision, the words now seem to take on a stronger meaning—a direct result of gripping the wheel of Ferrari’s latest ode to über-performance: the Purosangue.

Because we’re not just passing luxury SUVs on the Dolomites as if they’re standing still, we’re doing it as we zoom uphill—making short work of Porsche Macans and Audi Q5s as we climb some of the steepest mountains known to man.

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There’s an embarrassment of riches to fall hard for with the Purosangue. Ferrari’s first lifted performance crossover—don’t dare call it a “Sports Utility Vehicle,” or face the admonishment of Maranello’s execs—boasts two singular elements that particularly shine in these harrowing circumstances, and a third when you arrive wherever you’re going. No doubt the reason Ferrari flew us all the way here to these unique roads to experience it all first-hand.

First the most salient: under the long hood before us the furious explosions of a Ferrari-crafted V12 engine load power up like an earthmover. The 6.5-liter naturally aspirated powerplant could very well be one of Maranello’s last blazing a dozen cylinders, and it’s been tweaked to boast a ludicrous amount of pull from nearly zero—unloading 80% of its torque from only 2,100 rpms.

There is no other high-performance SUV—sorry, Ferrari Utility Vehicle—on the planet equipped with a V12, nor any other engine, that can eclipse 62 mph from a standstill in just 3.3 seconds, and keep going all the way till it taps the 199 mph top speed. It not only sounds glorious bouncing off the mineral-heavy dolostone that lines these vertical roads, its delicious, deep low-end torque helps swallow traffic like a competitive eater.

(Ferrari)

The space-age chassis constructed of high-strength aluminum was white-sheet designed for the Purosangue. The body fuses three types of aluminum, high strength steel and carbon fiber—including a one-piece carbon roof for rigidity, lightness and lowering the center of gravity for the tallest Ferrari ever (there’s also an optional electrochromic glass roof). With its massive V12 placed entirely behind the front axle, the overall architecture helps engineer an impeccably balanced 49/51 front/rear weight ratio.

The second tectonic attribute the Purosangue boasts is its Ferrari Active Suspension Technology (FAST)—a 48-volt active suspension system featuring quad electric motors, one on each wheel (along with a radiator on each to dispense heat), that actively responds to road conditions every 0.50 milliseconds.

While extremely complex, the sui generis system not only adjusts absorption rates with varying stiffness, but its four electric motors can also actively push down on each wheel independently. This adds another dimension to the Purosangue’s ability to minimize body roll and maximize rubber contact.

Active versus reactive performance, optimizing elasticity, eschewing roll bars and lowering ride height by almost half an inch at speed. FAST keeps the Purosangue planted to the road like oak roots—while balancing dynamics and performance with shocking levels of comfort (on more forgiving driving modes, of course). Overall the symphony of AWD, rear-wheel steering, eDiff and FAST guarantees heart-fibrillating, truly supercar-worthy cornering.

(Ferrari)

Only an hour later we’re sitting by the giant panoramic windows of a remote ski lodge perched on the upper peaks of the Dolomites. Wistfully scanning the Alpine ski pistes below, a colleague approaches complaining about traffic at certain points of the route.

Odd, because I have zero recollection of any blockage. Perhaps it was there, sure, but it never entered the stage of frustration because the Purosangue so easily dissolved these clots and left them in the rear view.

Again, the Lannister patriarch’s words ring in my head: The lion does not concern himself with the opinions of sheep.

And that’s sort of the glory of the Purosangue, isn’t it? It’s clear that as Ferrari has done with its halo F-Line (288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo, LaFerrari) they’ve left nothing on the table here, intent on crafting as flawless a machine as possible, costs be damned. Which brings us to the name: Purosangue, Italian for “pureblood,” or “thoroughbred.”

Arguably the most controversial vehicle in Ferrari’s 75 years of existence, it was absolutely imperative that this not-an-SUV honor the sacred bloodline—that it drives like a Ferrari sports car, as Ferraristi expect and demand. Remember we don’t have to go that far back, only to 2016, when the marque’s then-CEO Sergio Marchionne answered reporters querying about a possible SUV model with this memorable retort: “You’d have to shoot me first.”

Therefore one can understand Maranello’s hesitation to utter the phrase, almost spitting on the ground every time some absentminded journalist stammers “SUV.” Hence their dedication to crafting a utilitarian vehicle that never forgets it’s a Ferrari. As the first Prancing Horse with four doors, plus four adult-size seats, it is easily Maranello’s most practical model ever.

Add a 125-gallon (473-liter) trunk, and there’s never been a vehicle remotely like it in Ferrari’s stable. It is disorienting to drive a Ferrari this livable, with so much space and luxury, and still be throttling a fire-breathing V12 with more catapult launch than many motorcycles.

Sure a handful of über-SUVs offer roominess with SpaceX acceleration, but none can match the handling that Ferrari’s FAST matches to its peerless Italian powerplant. “Without this component [Ferrari Active Suspension Technology] we cannot achieve our target performance goals,” as Vehicle Dynamics Performance Engineer Jacopo Canestri told us after the drive.

(Ferrari)

“The suspension is critical into allowing Ferrari to build a fourdoor, higher clearance vehicle,” adds Product Marketing Manager Pietro Virgolin. “A central engine, gearbox in the rear, the classic Ferrari layout—but with extra space, and that still gives to every Ferraristi the same feeling that they have throughout the range. That was not negotiable.”

All of which make the Purosangue truly unique in the automotive landscape, justifying its celestial $400,000-plus price tag for those who demand a singular experience. Ferraristi loyalists and those who aspire to join their hallowed ranks, in other words—which includes plenty of deep pockets as the marque has reportedly nearly sold out the Purosangue’s entire initial production run.

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