The last inhibitions
It’s war out there, economic, distribution, displacement war. There is pure brutality, recession, inflation. The planet is at a tipping point, yet we talk about gas prices and coal-fired power plants instead of climate extremes. And as always, it’s all about money. Ferrari is on the stock exchange and must deliver its shareholders not only a fat dividend, but also the prospect of profit maximisation and steady growth. To this end, Maranello is now dropping its last inhibitions – and giving its shareholders an SUV. The Italians never tire of emphasising that it was the customers who had wanted such a beast for years, but I don’t know a single Ferrari driver (and I know quite a few) who would admit such a thing in public. Well, I didn’t know a single Lamborghini owner who wanted an Urus either; meanwhile almost all of them have one in their garage. Preferably in a very inconspicuous fluorescent colour. Even McLaren, in its distress, is thinking of dropping its trousers.
I guess we’ll have to get used to it. At Porsche, we’ve also got used to it; among frequent drivers, a Cayenne Turbo GT is currently considered the best machine from Zuffenhausen, and on the German autobahn it’s a better choice than any 911. The Purosangue also has all the ingredients to raise hell on the highways, V12 with 725 hp, 0 to 100 in 3.3 seconds, over 310 km/h top speed. With an unladen weight of over two tonnes, it is also the heaviest Ferrari of all time. And it is the first Ferrari ever to have hill descent control.
But we are not here to run the SUV per se into the ground (although: yes, we are), we are first of all concerned with greed for money and its probably unpalatable consequences in the medium term. Of course, Ferrari, as an employer, also has a responsibility towards its workforce and must secure jobs in the long term. But the margin of the Italians is so exorbitant that they would not have had to worry about it in the next few years, even without an SUV; in Maranello, one litre of milk makes two kilos of butter and two litres of cream. But Ferrari is now exploiting this to such an extent that it can’t go on forever. More and more cars (last year there was another new record, 11,155 units) are diminishing the exclusivity. And with it the desirability. If, from next year onwards, there are another 20 per cent (that’s how big the Purosangue’s share may be) more, then we’ll soon be approaching 15,000 units – double what ex-Ferrari boss Montezemolo once defined as the upper limit. Oh yes, there will be more SUV models coming from Emilia Romagna, probably also a BMW-X6-ugly coupé.
Enzo Ferrari always wanted to build one car less than was in demand. This is still true today, Ferrari could easily sell 20,000 or even 30,000 cars a year. But then the question arises: to whom? In this segment, it is not only important to sell cars, but also to whom. If the hardcore freaks and collectors and high-speed drivers are replaced by pimply IT millionaires and questionable young heiresses and clueless would-be investors, then the brand will eventually have an image problem. It already has, in my humble opinion, Formula 1 is a disaster, an embarrassing drama – and the model programme is so confusing and overblown that I haven’t known what’s new and what’s current for years. Apart from the 812 Competizione, I couldn’t care less.
The Purosangue is now also a typical thing for nouveau riche late pubescents and neglected second wives and culturally distant Chinese who don’t give a damn about origin and history and brand values. There is enough boot space for organic parsley fresh from the marrow, and according to information from Ferrari, useful things like bicycle racks will also come as accessories. There will certainly also be a mother-in-law box on the roof; but apparently no trailer coupling. Of course, it is up to each owner to decide how he or she wants to use his or her 390,000 euro toy, but there again: image. Pictures like this, children’s bicycles on the roof, will not help Ferrari. It is also about the seriousness of a sports car.
But the Purosangue is not a sports car, despite all the Italians’ assertions. We would be satisfied if it could qualify as a Gran Turismo. But a wheelbase of over three metres and a height of almost 1.6 metres will hardly help, and the weight even less so. Sure, it’s definitely fast, but so is a Tesla: straight ahead. We have no doubt that it will also be fun to drive, but that’s just it, and probably mainly on the motorway. Because hardcore is different, a Roma is more on the dull side, and a jacked-up Roma can’t do any better. It is precisely from Ferrari that one always wishes for the very finest blade, something beautiful that one would like to hang on the wall as a poster, something noble that can embody the pride of the once so fine brand. A token. And what do we get instead? A fat pile.
Because what probably annoys me most about the Ferrari SUV: the design. Those two nostrils above the much too narrow daytime running lights, what exactly is that supposed to be? But even worse: the wheel arch cladding in visible carbon. What devils do you think got into Centro Stile’s head? Such add-ons might still be acceptable on a Dacia Duster, it smells a bit like adventure – but on a Ferrari? Especially on a vehicle that doesn’t even have a “real” 4×4; the drive on the front two wheels is not much more than a “traction aid”.
Enzo has been dead for a long time. In technical terms, Ferrari has worked its way through all forms of hybrid, and has probably had all the superlatives before. What remains is excess. Plump and feisty and expensive. It’s all about ego, Ferrari’s ego. And that of the buyer, me, myself & I. The world is in ruins, but the statement of a Ferrari Purosangue is quite clear: I don’t care, I can afford it. The only thing missing is the special edition for crisis winners.
So be it. We still have a few beautiful Ferraris in our archives.