The Ferrari Purosangue Redefines The Super SUV

Opinion / 15 Comments

No Lamborghini, Porsche, or Aston Martin comes close to Ferrari's Super Sports Utility Vehicle.

It's finally happened. Ferrari has built an SUV, and it's called the Purosangue, which directly translates from Italian as 'pureblood' but is better interpreted as 'thoroughbred.' This instantly irritated many who asked if Enzo would call this a thoroughbred. Well, it's NOT an SUV, says Maranello, so don't ever call it one. With a height of 62.6 inches, the "Ferrari Utility Vehicle," as it's officially known, is roughly as tall as a Hyundai Ioniq 5.

It's considerably shorter than Lamborghini's Urus, but is it not fundamentally the same thing, namely a cash-grabbing crossover, of sorts, designed to lure customers away from supposedly exotic SUVs? Is it still not a compromise of the world's most iconic automaker's principles? Is it not an affront to the world's oldest surviving and most successful F1 team and an insult to everything Enzo Ferrari stood for?

No, and I'm about to tell you why. To do so, we need to understand just how much thought and effort the Prancing Horse has put into this lifted sports car to separate it from everything else on sale today and create the world's first true "super" SU... Whatever, let's get on with it.

Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari

Naturally-Aspirated V12

From design to marketing and production, Ferrari obsessed over the details. Let's start with the skeleton. Ferrari could easily have repurposed the GTC4Lusso's chassis, given it some high-riding suspension, and squeezed in a pair of extra doors. That would have been the easy route, but Ferrari is different. While the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga are not "super" because they cop out to share a platform with an Audi SUV like any other mass-market product, Ferrari created an all-new chassis to improve torsional rigidity, increase stiffness, and minimize unwanted noise, vibrations, and harshness.

This meant that Ferrari could cram its iconic F140 6.5-liter naturally aspirated V12 engine into the Purosangue, something that Lamborghini and Aston Martin have shied away from because of the expense required to make it work. I don't care how loud or powerful your Mansory-modified Urus is - it still sounds just like every other popping-and-banging twin-turbo V8. But in the Fezza, you get a thoroughbred V12 whose sonorous ode to unassisted combustion rams home the idea of tradition. Turbocharged 12-cylinder Bentaygas and Cullinans don't come close.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Engine Bay Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Engine Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Engine Bay
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Engine

Perfect Balance, Innovative Drivetrain

Because the Purosangue was always designed to accommodate a V12, the engine is mounted behind the front axle, helping improve weight balance. In fact, the front-mid-mounted setup allows for what Maranello deems perfect front:rear weight distribution - 49:51. The new chassis accommodates a rear transaxle eight-speed automatic that sends most of the grunt to the rear wheels. Looking at the chassis drawings, you can see that this would have been impossible if the Purosangue had been designed to have a three-across rear seating configuration.

The front-axle mini transmission sends some power to the front wheels, too, giving you a totally unique AWD system with handling potential like no other, and that's before you factor in the drift-happy Side Slip Control, the 296 GTB's innovative ABS 'evo' braking system, and a constantly variable traction control system that keeps you safe no matter the surface. There's even a word-first Multimatic shock absorber system with a mini e-motor on each damper that can keep the car flat no matter what bend you throw at it. The drivetrain in the Purosangue is truly innovative.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rearward Vision Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Forward Vision Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rearward Vision
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Forward Vision

Elegant Practicality

Now for the styling. Personally, I think it's the most attractive "utility vehicle" ever made. Consider how most high-end SUVs have broadly the same shape. A Urus looks like a massive truck from the front, with a sheer wall and an oversized grille for a face. The Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Rolls-Royce Cullinan, and Aston Martin DBX all suffer from this imposing but inelegant look too. The imminent BMW XM also falls prey to this unimaginative basic shape, despite its best efforts to look unique. You want unique? How about a clamshell hood, says Ferrari.

The Purosangue remains rather large at almost 80 inches wide, but the clever use of negative space and the inclusion of well-measured artisanal creases make it look truly sleek, and until the doors open, the profile suggests a tiny cabin. This is the tallest and most practical Ferrari thus far (the cargo area has a capacity of 16.6 cubic feet - the highest ever), yet it somehow looks low-slung, fast, and elegant, while segment alternatives look like hulking battering rams. Better still, the Purosangue's styling is not purely gratuitous.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Aft View Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Front Angle View Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Maximum Trunk Space Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Trunk Space Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Aft View
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Front Angle View
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Maximum Trunk Space
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Trunk Space

Aerodynamic Artistry

The way the vehicle plays with contours and surfaces is intriguing and warrants more of your attention. Sure, Ferraris are always styled to be evocative, but every element of the so-called FUV has its roots in aerodynamic efficiency. The "aerobridge" on the front hood borrowed from the F12berlinetta, the ducted and louvered wheel arches, the intakes in the recesses where you would expect to find headlights, the vents below the taillights, even the wheels - everything - has a performance benefit, either for heat extraction or aerodynamic efficiency.

The recessed rear glass is even designed to negate the need for a wiper, and the beautiful floating roof spoiler has little winglets inside it to help channel the air down to a nolder, or lip-integrated spoiler, that works with the carbon diffuser to suck hot air from the rear transmission.

There's a lot more we could talk about here, but my point is this: look at a Lamborghini Urus or an Aston Martin DBX and count how many intakes or vents are fake. Now do the same on the Purosangue. You won't find a single one.

Ferrari Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Taillight Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Taillight

A Dramatic Entrance

Instead of adapting an existing platform to the styling of a Ferrari SUV that didn't exist yet, Maranello thought about everything that a car like this needs beforehand. A decent ride height was a must to allow former GTC4Lusso owners to get to ski resorts in the Alps safely, but because it's a Ferrari and should be more biased to spirited driving, it's only got 7.2 inches of ground clearance. That already means it's easier to get into than a Urus, but then Ferrari went a step further by adding electrically operated frameless doors. The fronts open to 63 degrees, five more than any other Ferrari, while the rear suicide doors open to 79 degrees. Along with the shape of the roofline, the Purosangue is expected to be the easiest high-riding exotic to get into and out of ever - and definitely the most dramatic. Isn't thoughtful innovation in design what you expect from an exotic Italian company creating something new?

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Open Doors Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rear Angle View Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Open Doors
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rear Angle View

Making Each Drive An Occassion

Inside, the driver gets a 10.2-inch digital display, and the steering wheel borrowed from the 296 and the SF90 Stradale has been refined. It still has horrible haptic feedback buttons, but at least those buttons now have little recesses to help your thumbs hit home more accurately. On the opposite side, the front passenger gets their own screen to control climate settings and choose which of the five massage settings to utilize. In the middle, the dash gets a rising knob that retreats back into the surface when not needed.

While I concede that the overall layout is probably not going to age especially well, I like the idea of no distracting center screen and an easy-to-reach dial that feels special to use every time. The layout and design make sitting in the front row an occasion for either occupant; riding shotgun will make you feel like a copilot in your own cocooned cockpit. Even the carbon fiber trims are interwoven with copper strands for that extra special touch. The Urus, by comparison, is a reskinned Audi. Meh.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Dashboard Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Central Console Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rear Passenger Seats Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Dashboard
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Central Console
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rear Passenger Seats

At the back, Purosangue has no rear-seat entertainment screens (although it looks like these may be added later), but you do get your own center console complete with a hidden climate control knob. These rear seats are heated like the fronts, but they don't have massage functions, and I think that's a good call. Why overcomplicate things? Why burden the car with features most will never even look at? Four-door cars with six-figure minimum asking prices are almost never driven by chauffeurs, and in a Ferrari, the driver should always be the one with the most toys to play with. Drake drives his custom Cullinan himself, and Purosangue buyers will too.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rearmost Seats Ferrari Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Instrument Cluster Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Dashboard Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rearmost Seats
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Instrument Cluster
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Dashboard

Sit High, Feel Low

Another important feature of the car is that, although you sit higher than in any other Ferrari, all four seats still feel super low. That's because the door cards are high and the windows narrow. Sure, this has negative consequences in terms of outward visibility, but why are you checking your blind spot? You should be in front already. Seriously though, this trait makes the exterior look less bulky while making occupants feel like they're in a very fast, low-slung exotic that just happens to have four doors and four seats. The experience inside this will be sporty and special, no matter what speed you're doing, and that's the kind of feeling you should get in any exotic, regardless of its ride height. You don't wanna step into a car with a Prancing Horse shield and then start comparing it to a Dodge Durango after five minutes.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Central Control Panel Ferrari 2023 Ferrari Purosangue Gear Shifter Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Central Control Panel
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Gear Shifter

Guaranteed Exclusivity

But what about the heritage of a brand like Ferrari? What would Enzo think of something that is inherently compromised in terms of high-speed performance? He wouldn't give a damn, honestly. Enzo used road cars of all sorts to fund his passion, which was racing.

Although Ferrari will intentionally limit production numbers, SUVs and their ilk are in vogue, and the Purosangue fulfills the purpose of giving Ferrari's customers what they want. By doing so, the brand forges new relationships and solidifies existing ones, which leads to more special editions and more entrants in customer racing series. More money and more customers = more motorsport, pure and simple.

And by keeping it exclusive, you'll see one parked on Beverly Hills streets far less often than a Urus or DBX or Bentayga. Would you still love a Countach as much if you saw dozens of them every single day, like Corollas? Not gonna happen when your super FUV has a supercar price double that of its rivals (reportedly around $400,000).

Any chump with loads of change can buy a Urus, but when you see someone step out of a rare Purosangue, you know that individual is part of Ferrari's inner circle.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Rear View Ferrari

What about the hardcore fans who think a high-riding four-door Ferrari is sacrilege? Well, these people probably aren't customers anyway, and besides, the world evolves. Vehicles like the original Range Rover and Willys Jeep were utilitarian workhorses, not status symbols. Almost nobody actually needs a true SUV, but because people feel safer in them than in wagons, their popularity has soared and they've become fancier than ever. With exotic SUVs, this level has reached new heights, despite the fact that these vehicles' intimidating size and scandalous prices are used almost exclusively as fashion accessories.

The moment people started buying Cayennes just to own the biggest Porsche on offer is the moment the market changed. There's no point trying to fight it; it's too late to go back. The trends that the market at large sets are picked up by the elite, and if you've ever bought a crossover instead of a station wagon, some of the blame for the existence of the Purosangue lies on your shoulders. You may as well appreciate what Ferrari has done with what has been demanded of it.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Front View Ferrari

A Super SUV In Every Way

All that remains to be seen is if Ferrari has overstated the excellence of the 715-horsepower Purosangue. Curiously, the FUV's time around Ferrari's Fiorano test track has not been revealed, although one has reportedly been set. Maybe the lower, lighter, and less powerful GTC4Lusso is still quicker. But that's not the point. This exists to satisfy clienti demands, and I believe it will.

Ferrari has started from scratch to produce something truly unique when copy+paste would have been easier. It approached "SUV" styling and design from a new angle. It created a bespoke platform for its four-door, enabling a singing V12 to be fitted. The Purosangue presents exquisite design, performance, luxury, innovation, and, most importantly, drama in a single compelling package that makes every alternative look half-assed. It may not be the super wagon I would have wished for, but Novitec lowering springs will fix that.

It's the world's first true super sports utility vehicle, meaning that it legitimately blends supercar DNA with practicality, and that's an epic achievement, especially on the first try. Bravissimo, Ferrari!

2023 Ferrari Purosangue Sideward Vision Ferrari Ferrari
2023 Ferrari Purosangue Sideward Vision

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