We all have good and bad days at work. When an email appears in the inbox inviting you to spend a couple of days driving a Ferrari up a mountain, that definitely counts as a good day. The Ferrari in question is the new Lusso T; a rear-wheel drive V8 grand tourer that I’m told has 601 prancing horses under the bonnet. Needless to say, it’s doesn’t take me long to reply to that email.
I’m up early to go and meet the Lusso T at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, the fabulous Ottoman palace resort at the end of The Palm Jumeirah; a fitting place to kick off an Arabian driving adventure. To my surprise, Ferrari has sent a couple of their own drivers along for the trip; obviously there to school us less seasoned racers in how a Ferrari ought to be driven.
On arrival, the Lusso T doesn’t have the wow factor of the 488 GTB which is accompanying us on this journey to the mountains. For a Ferrari, I found the body styling sleek yet a bit muted. Compared to other members of the family, the Lusso T won’t be turning many heads. The exterior may not be that flashy, but open the door and you’re greeted by one of the best Ferrari interiors I’ve encountered, complementing the car’s shape with long sweeping curves and a vibrant red finish that gives you the wow punch that a Ferrari should.
The cockpit is very similar to the GTB, with its combination of old school analogue dials and digital outputs. The infotainment system on the centre column looks exquisite and it’s very user friendly. I also noticed the passenger gets a touchscreen display.
Settling down behind the wheel, the Lusso T is very comfortable: there’s good visibility and the glass roof really adds to the grand tour feel of hitting the open road. Cruising on the highway, the car purrs along quietly, as you’d expect from a GT; endless engine grunts and exhaust trumpets aren’t ideal if you’re heading off on a long drive. But if those tunes are music to your ears, the Lusso has a great set list; the V8 has a pleasing grunt as you raise the revs, and those quad exhausts compliment it with a chorus of growls and crackles when the foot goes down.
The start of the journey involves some uneventful highway driving, so I set the cruise control, sit back and enjoy the drive. But it’s not long before I realise that the Lusso T is almost too comfortable and quiet.
At low speeds, even the steering is a touch too light for my liking. At nearly five metres long, this is not a small car, and it weighs in at 1,740kg. Yet I feel the connection to the road is lacking; a far cry from the 488 GTB, where I felt very connected even at low speeds. To be fair, the Lusso T is designed for comfort during hours behind the wheel, so I take that into account, and settle down to enjoy the ride.
A few hours in, the car proves itself to be a very competent grand tourer. Before we reach the mountain, it’s time for a pit stop to drop off our bags at our abode for the night, The Ritz-Carlton Ras al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert. Turning off the highway down the long, narrow and winding road through the Al Wadi desert, I start to get the Ferrari feel of the Lusso T and take the opportunity to explore its capabilities. In sports mode, the steering feels tighter, and its response is exquisite as you dive into tight bends. It’s a shame the road isn’t longer, but this is a great taste of what was to come.
While the Ferrari chaps service the cars and prepare them for the drive to the mountains, I check in and grab some lunch. The tented villas of The Ritz-Carlton are nothing short of spectacular: private pools, desert views, large comfortable beds and possibly the best shower I’ve ever experienced. If I didn’t have a Ferrari waiting for me, I could happily spend the rest of the day here.
With the Lusso T and I both refuelled, it’s time to head to the mountains. As an added bonus, it turns out our little tour has become a police escorted motorcade of Ferraris through the town to the mountain. I have to admit, travelling with a police escort is fantastic. As you’d expect, we reach the foot of the mountain with relative ease and in good time, at which point the police pull to one side and wave us on.
As I drive past the policeman waving me on, I switch the car into sports and the Lusso T begins to growl. The V8 engine that can hurl you from 0-100 kph in 3.5 seconds begins its attack on the mountain – a craggy peak known as Jebel Jais.
Presented with long straight ascents combined with tight left and right-hand corners, the road feels like it’s made for this car. The Ferrari’s grip is remarkable, and the power delivery even on a steep ascent would bring a smile to any driver’s face. Now this feels like a Ferrari. I switch the gears to manual and cycle through the seven-speed F1 DCT gearbox as I accelerate up the mountain, braking hard for the tight, winding corners. My only complaint is that the mountain isn’t big enough; the Ferrari eats up the road ahead and before I know it, it’s time to pull over and enjoy the views from the top.
As we soak in the sight of the epic road that was just conquered, I’m told that the Ferrari drivers are going to show us how they get a Ferrari up and down the mountain. The local police were kind enough to close the road to the public, and what followed was probably the best five minutes I’ll ever spend as a passenger. I was hurtled up and down the mountain at terrifying speeds by a driver whose talents clearly lay in rally driving. We went through numerous bends sideways, and likely cost Ferrari more in tyre rubber than many people earn in a month.
With the sun quickly setting, I had time to enjoy a nerve-settling cup of tea and soak in a bit more of the stunning view, before climbing back into the Lusso T, which I’m by now slowly falling in love with. Again we enjoy the privileges of a police escort back to the hotel; it really is the only way to get through rush hour traffic.
After a sumptuous meal outside overlooking the desert sands in tranquil Wadi Khadeja I returned to my room to reflect on the day’s events and rest up for my final few hours with the Lusso T the next morning.
The return home was bitter sweet. Getting back behind the wheel, I was reminded of just how exhilarating this car can be. During the journey home I discover a feature I’ve not experienced in a car for quite a while; two small buttons behind the steering wheel that allow you to adjust volume and digital display information. I’ve always preferred this button placement instead of on the front; it just feels more natural. It’s only a small thing, but the devil is in the details, so thank you Ferrari.
Ending the journey where we began at the Jumeriah Zabeel Saray, I have to admit, the Lusso T does everything it’s built to do. Is it a good car to drive on a daily basis? Yes. You don’t have to worry too much about your front end getting split open when taking a speed bump at more than three kilometres per hour, and it has enough space for four people, although the two people in the back are better off if they’re on the smaller side. Storage space is adequate and when you want to enjoy the car for all the reasons suggested by prancing horse on the front, it doesn’t let you down.
NUTS & BOLTS:
Engine: V8 - 90° Turbo
0-100 kph: 3.5 seconds
Max power: 602bhp
Top speed: 320kph
Price: starting from AED1,016,000 (US $276,666)