Ferrari has vowed never to make a four-door car. Boy, am I glad they did

Enzo Ferrari, founder of the famous Italian car company that bears his name, is often quoted as saying, “We will never make a four-door,” meaning that the brand would not compromise on its two-door sports car heritage, as produces something more suitable for families. Well, now it has, creating the four-wheel-drive, four-door hatchback, the Purosangue. It’s the bouncy horse brand’s answer to the sports car craze, and seemingly fuck you to Enzo’s stated credo. Just don’t call it an SUV.

“We’re trying not to have an SUV, but rather sporty proportions with elegance and luxury aspects,” says Filippo degli Esposti, Ferrari’s designer, as we look at the car. “We’re trying to give the passionate feeling of being in a sports car, but with all the ambience of being in a luxury car.”

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Automotive designers often indulge in this kind of hyperbole. But after a day of driving the Purosangue — the name means pure-blooded — for hundreds of kilometers through the towns, hills, valleys and winding parts of the actively snow-covered Italian Alps, I found much to admire. Like the recent Roma grand tourer (GT), which was launched in 2019 and introduced a new design language for the brand’s more luxurious cars, the Purosangue boasts a clean, uncluttered and harmonious appearance. But it’s also surprisingly capable – more so than recent four-seater all-wheel drive Ferraris like the FF and GTC4lusso.

This is due in no small part to the inclusion of the aforementioned rear doors, the first time such portals have been included in one of the brand’s cars. Of course, even these are presented in typical Ferrari style, that is, elegant, unique and performance-oriented. They are hinged at the back, like a classic Lincoln Continental “Suicide Door”. So they open and close, with an electric assist for each direction, from the middle of the car.

Not only does this allow for easier and more graceful access to the heated/cooled/massaging and remarkably adult-sized rear buckets – perfect if you’re wearing a skirt or loading a child seat or just suffering from sciatica. It also hides the hatch, maintaining a more coupe-like profile. It also allows the use of a smaller door, keeping the wheelbase shorter, making the car more nimble.

I can attest to that nimbleness. Aided by a clever four-wheel steering system and an electronically controlled suspension that requires a master’s degree in advanced engineering to understand, the Purosangue shot along with sticky aplomb over every surface I threw it at. It handled the fluffy but slippery mountain snow, the sometimes crumbly Italian pavement and even the bumps that mark the edges of cities. All passed without a hitch.

The Purosangue’s higher ride helps, although it provides a slightly odd sensitivity –I’m sitting up here, but in a Ferrari— for those of us who have ridden a lot. Still, power lift is included for the front end in case the bumps get too turbulent, and an effective ‘comfort’ option is available among Purosangue’s computer-controlled settings, along with Ice, Wet, Sport and Traction Control Off.

Plowing down a snow-covered track at the base of a ski mountain, with the roar of a 715-hp V-12 engine. and electronically adaptive suspension, throttle and traction control set to Ice mode, my bright red Purosangue felt remarkably planted. However, the trees closest to the edges of the court are wrapped in giant gymnastics mats. Because while it could be any of ten 700-horsepower electric or gas off-roaders, none of them cost as much as the Purosangue, which is expected to start around $400,000 when the first cars arrive in America in the fourth quarter of this year.

Ferrari GTs are surprisingly civilized, nothing like the brain-rattling supercars you might expect or experience from other less refined marques. Even with the colossal 22” (front) and 23” (rear) forged alloy wheels shod with rough-riding winter tires, I never had a problem. The four-wheel steering system reduces the car’s considerable turning circle – even with those shortened doors, it’s the longest road-going production Ferrari to date – enough to maneuver the ski mountain’s capelin-thin double spiral parking ramps less terrifying.

Although Ferrari claims it has no competition, there’s more company when it comes to almighty six-figure SUVs than you might think. The killer category—call them MegaTrucks or SUVpremes—includes everything from the 710-hp Dodge Durango Hellcat. for $92,780, to the 682-hp Cadillac Escalade V for $151,490 and the Lamborghini Urus Performante with 657 hp. for $260,676. There’s even the all-electric Rivian R1S with 835 hp. priced at $91,800. But none of these rough and tumble beasts combine Ferrari’s sense of exquisite style, driving enthusiasm, refined control, outright speed and extreme luxury. Aston Martin DBX 707 with 697 hp and $239,086 price is pretty close, with its attractive shape, firm but shock-absorbing suspension, sonorous engine note and delightful interior touches, but it lacks the Ferrari’s sophisticated technology and dreadnought build quality.

Oddly enough, the vehicle that comes closest to replicating the Purosangue experience—with a V-12 engine, “suicide” doors, an available four-seat layout, an unruffled ride, an exclusive price, and a highly visible shape—is a Rolls-Royce with power A 563 hp, $355,000 Cullinan that mimics many of Ferrari’s most compelling features. (It also feels more Rolls-like than Urus-like Lamborghini.) Admittedly, it lacks the Italian’s acceleration quickness and handling. In fact, it’s sort of its opposite, like driving a bank vault mounted on a floating steamroller. But all the best comparisons are ultimately circular, right?

If it seems like I’m struggling to compare the Purosangue to anything, that’s because its closest correlates aren’t as much of a rival as other Ferraris: the marque’s GT, the kind of graceful and sporty road cars it first became known for in the immediate post WW2 refined two or four seater cars that could easily be taken to the coast or mountains on a proper holiday, with breathtaking yet refined performance and nice space for a partner, friends and their (physical) luggage. Ferrari has taken this recipe and rather than compromise or cynically downplay the brand to meet modern demands for vehicles that can do everything well, have created a car that meets every one of those requirements, but is, frankly, every inch a Ferrari.

Despite its name, Purosangue is not just a horse that runs fast. It’s a modern interpretation of the GT, updated to carry more people and more things to more places. This is an achievement worth celebrating.

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