2024 Ferrari Purosangue Takes the SUV into the Realm of the Exotic
At some point, a memo must have gone out. It decreed that all super-SUVs would hew to the same template: twin-turbo V-8, a torque-converter automatic transmission, and full-time all-wheel drive, all stuffed into a rakish but conventional four-door body. That’s the formula as practiced by Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Maserati, BMW, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Audi. Ferrari, though, didn’t get the memo. Thus its first SUV, the Purosangue, uses a 715-hp naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 and a rear-mounted dual-clutch transaxle. Power to the front axle is delivered by a separate two-speed transmission that’s only active in conjunction with the rear axle’s first four gears. The rear doors are rear-hinged and power-operated, offering primo access to a pair of heated, ventilated, massaging back seats. And there’s Multimatic’s TASV spool-valve active dampers, four-wheel steering, and bodywork that has more aero tricks than a Formula 1 car. Ferrari was cognizant that its first SUV had to be something special, and the resulting effort will make a fine companion piece to whatever other exotics populate a given garage, valet line, or secret underground lair.
You could say there was some parts-shelf engineering at play with the Purosangue, but that’s an agreeable arrangement when the parts come from the 812 Superfast, with which the Purosangue shares its dry-sump, direct-injected F140 V-12. Here, that lusty mill is tuned for more bottom-end torque (80 percent of its 528-pound-feet maximum is available at 2100 rpm) but still good for an 8000-rpm redline. The front transmission is derived from the one that debuted in the FF and is driven off the nose of the engine, with two clutches that enable front-axle torque vectoring (and allow the two-speed front transmission to match wheel speed with the first four forward gears of the rear transaxle). The Purosangue’s long hood isn’t just for stylistic effect, given the packaging challenges of mounting a transmission in front of a V-12. Ferrari claims a zero-to-62-mph time of 3.3 seconds, which seems plausible, if not conservative.
For most cars, a screaming V-12 would be the defining piece of hardware, but the Purosangue’s engine costars with its suspension, which uses 48-volt electric motors at each corner to actively level the body. Instead of merely reacting to uneven pavement, the Purosangue’s four suspension assemblies compare notes every 50 milliseconds to smother bumps by either lifting or lowering each wheel independently. But the system isn’t entirely motor-based. The electric motors work in tandem with a traditional spring and damper, so they’re not doing all the work—more like providing timely nudges to enhance the returns.
It’s almost hard to say exactly how well the system works because we’d need to visit a well-known road for a frame of reference. As it is, pavement that looks like it should deliver a shattering ride simply doesn’t. All is serene and locked down, such that the dampers’ Sport setting is mostly performance theater—even with the suspension in its softest setting, body control is precise. The enormous 22-inch front tires and 23-inch rears feel like they have BFGoodrich KO2 sidewalls while simultaneously delivering instantaneous response. There’s no side-to-side head toss caused by the anti-roll bars because there are no anti-roll bars. In fact, the electric motors would allow the Purosangue to lean into corners if Ferrari programmed it that way. When we asked a Ferrari engineer if the Purosangue could theoretically leap over an obstacle in the road, he thought about it and said yes. He wandered away before we could ask about the possibilities of three-wheel motion or Carolina squatting.
Since the Purosangue will be expected to handle some light off-road work, by which we mean climbing speed bumps in Bal Harbour, the suspension has a lift setting. But lifting the body requires the motors to stay powered up, so you can’t drive around that way all day. In fact, the motors work hard enough in daily driving to require their own heat exchanger and cooling circuit. And while the hardware is from Multimatic and could theoretically end up on other cars, the control software was done in-house by Ferrari engineers, and we’d guess they’re not sharing notes. So, for now, if you want active suspension, you’ll need $402,050 to order a Purosangue. (That’s the $393,350 base price, plus a $5000 destination charge and the $3700 gas guzzler tax incurred by EPA ratings of 12 mpg city and 16 mpg highway.)
With its torque vectoring, active suspension, and four-wheel steering, the Purosangue manages to feel calm and planted on straightaways while retaining the ability to scythe into corners the moment you turn the wheel. The rear-axle steering system, adapted from the 812 Competizione, can steer each wheel independently up to two degrees—so, for instance, the outside wheel can help the rear end follow the nose into a corner, and Ferrari adjusts the toe under braking and hard acceleration to lend stability. At low speeds, as in a parking garage, the instrument cluster’s camera display shows green traces that predict your steering path, including one for the inside rear wheel to remind the driver that there’s steering going on back there too.
This phalanx of hardware and software operates so harmoniously that you’re seldom reminded of the fiendish complexity operating behind the scenes, the ones and zeros flitting across all those wiring harnesses, the clutches slipping and gears engaging somewhere down below the floorpan at just the right moments. It all just jells into a big, fast car that seems to be good at everything. The only time you’re reminded of the Purosangue’s vast catalog of elaborate systems is when you’re forced to interact with some of them through the steering wheel, which is where Ferrari saw fit to put, oh, all of the controls.
Ferrari crammed so many buttons and knobs and haptic touchpads on the front of the steering wheel that it ran out of space and had to start strewing controls across the back of it too—changing the audio source requires locating a tiny nub of a button behind the right steering-wheel spoke, and that nub is located next to a toggle switch that controls track selection, which is also within a stray finger’s reach of the right shift paddle, and the right turn signal button, and a haptic pad that controls the instrument cluster display and menus, and the windshield wiper and washer activation button, and the wiper settings knob, and the manettino lever that controls drive modes and suspension settings. “What if I accidentally touch that haptic pad while I’m diving into Turn 3 at Imola?” you ask. Good question. Ferrari anticipated that, which is why those buttons don’t respond until you touch them twice, thus implying intention. If we have time later, we’ll tell you about the left side of the steering wheel.
The sole physical control on the dash is a round knob that belongs to the climate-control system. It’s flush with the dash but powers out when you touch it. You then access settings by spinning the knob and jabbing at its tiny touchscreen to activate the seat heaters, say, or massage function. (There’s an identical knob between the rear bucket seats.) To the left and right of the knob are a few more haptic controls hiding behind glass, controlling specific functions like the rear-window defroster and suspension lift. The only large touchscreen is in front of the passenger seat, deliberately inaccessible to the driver, and that one provides the kind of display you might expect to find in the center of the dash—here there’s room to spell out “shiatsu” on the massage options or show cover art for your Def Leppard greatest hits playlist.
The rear seats—which instantly clear the low bar of “best back seats ever in a Ferrari”—are accessed via power-operated rear-hinged doors that operate completely independently of the front doors. To open one from the outside, you pull and hold a small lever along the bottom of the window that will look familiar to anyone who’s driven a Ford Mustang Mach-E, a cohort that evidently doesn’t include anyone at Ferrari (this is the company, after all, that used the code name F150 for the LaFerrari). A button on the B-pillar closes the doors. This is the kind of cool trick you can include when you don’t really care about weight—Ferrari quotes a dry weight of 4482 pounds in the lightest configuration, but the reality is more like 4800 pounds. Which still makes for a fine power-to-weight ratio, but only because there’s so much power.
Then again, this isn’t a sports car. The V-12 makes pretty sounds but keeps them to a dull roar, probably to the delight of Tubi, which will surely do a brisk business in uncorked Purosangue exhaust systems. There’s a launch-control position for the stubby metal-console shift lever, but no track setting on the manettino. The various aerodynamic tricks—underbody diffuser, air curtains to keep airflow attached to the side of the car, hidden ducts and channels in the bodywork—are optimized for cooling and drag reduction rather than ground-hugging downforce. Ferrari resisted the temptation to build a jacked-up F8 Tributo, and that was the right call.
Two decades after Porsche rolled out the Cayenne, we ought to be done with the hand-wringing over whether sports-car companies should build SUVs, but surely there will be Ferrari fans who tsk-tsk the company for daring to offer a vehicle that lots of people will want to buy. We’re sure Ferrari will worry a whole lot about those pills as the Purosangue prints money and inevitably becomes the bestselling model in the lineup. And anyway, people who can spend $400,000 on an SUV probably don’t face the binary choice of Purosangue or sports car. They’ll get both. But if, cursed by fate, you can somehow only have one Ferrari? Then this is the one to have.
2024 Ferrari Purosangue
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 4-door wagon
DOHC 48-valve V-12, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 396 in3, 6496 cm3
Power: 715 hp @ 7750 rpm
Torque: 528 lb-ft @ 6250 rpm
8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Wheelbase: 118.8 in
Length: 195.8 in
Width: 79.8 in
Height: 62.6 in
Cargo Volume: 17 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 4850 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 3.2 sec
100 mph: 7.5 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.7 sec
Top Speed: 193 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 13/12/16 mpg
Ezra Dyer is a Car and Driver senior editor and columnist. He’s now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.