Mont Blanc's snowy roads and slippery hairpins provided the perfect test for the advanced systems underpinning the GTC4Lusso
The very best grand touring cars should permit you to deal with the wide variety of challenges that a long-distance drive can often throw at you. Snow, for instance. Winter tyres help - the Ferrari GTC4Lusso that I’m driving today mounts a set of Michelin Pilot Alpins – as does four-wheel drive - provided by Maranello’s predictive 4RM EVO system.
The front wheels are powered by the power transfer unit (PTU) which intervenes against rear wheel slippage, providing two ratios dependent upon the gear selected for the rear transaxle. The PTU's first gear engages with first and second of the F1 DCT transmission, and its second gear engages with third and fourth. This works up to nearly 90mph, 4th gear's maximum speed. Gear-choice is managed by the considerable powertrain computing power, which provides excellent traction whatever the weather.
The PTU, and therefore the front axle, can receive up to a fifth of the V12’s output, with 90 per cent of this directed to the outside front wheel should conditions demand, giving the GTC4Lusso the grip and agility of a snow leopard. The Mont Blanc test drive is based out of Courmayeur, presenting various climatic challenges for this four-seater. As we climb the Aosta valley the outside-temperature read-out begins to tumble. I stop to admire a semi-frozen waterfall, then realise I've parked 690 horsepower in a snow-covered dip.
And it is, I now notice, rather lonely up here. But in the event it's no challenge at all. The Ferrari drives as if it were riding dry tarmac. The twisting descent and then the autostrada to Courmayeur make good use of the GTC4Lusso's many ingenious supporting systems, such as the PTU, rear-wheel steering, and carbon-ceramic brakes.
Adaptive cruise control is standard, so the car will run at your desired speed until it encounters something slower-moving, and adjusts its pace to match, including zero, as I discovered when following another car through an Autostrada toll-booth. In traffic jams it automatically edges forward if it stops for less than two seconds. Autonomous emergency braking is preceded by an audible warning.
Maranello's engineers, utilising its wind tunnel, reshaped the casing for the grille-mounted front radar so that it didn't affect the car's cooling system, upset its aerodynamics or become dirt-covered. The optional surround-view cameras located beneath the door mirrors do not create wind noise in a car that can do 210mph. There was certainly no sign of it at 150mph.
The car's lane-departure warning system is solely audible, does not interfere with steering, can be turned off and possesses two levels of sensitivity, meaning the car can tackle narrower lanes without the warning sounding off yet still provide an alert. A visible alert in the door mirror signals a vehicle in your blind spot; there's the option of a traffic-sign recognition system, plus it boasts a rear parking camera and a rear cross-traffic alert system. The GTC4Lusso had already demonstrated its brisk authority in 'ice' mode, but what was impressive was how effective it was when the electronic interventions were lessened.
Moving through the settings – 'wet', 'comfort', 'sport', 'track' - lets you push the car's tail ever wider, which is spectacular and fun, if not fast. Slide can be countered by the wheel, but also by accelerating, the PTU sending torque to the front to pull the car straight. It makes this car hugely effective in snow and means it is equipped for a range of weather conditions. Which is why plenty of owners use it year-round, to cross mountain ranges, visit ski resorts or simply to go to work. The complete GT.