Ferrari has said for years it would never build an SUV, but the prancing horse of Maranello has finally bitten the bullet and introduced the Purosangue — Italian for thoroughbred and pronounced puro-sang-way.
Unlike most rival offerings, which are spun off from existing hardware, the stylish Purosangue started life as a blank sheet. This is reflected not only by its benchmark-setting dynamics, but also its eye-watering starting price of Dh1.6 million — and that’s before you tick any boxes for personalisation options. Local orders commence later this year, but expect a waiting period of up to two years.
Touted as a Ferrari Utility Vehicle, or FUV, the Purosangue further separates itself from high-performance SUVs via its operatic, naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12. That in addition to its pioneering suspension system that uses electric motors and sophisticated active dampers at all four corners to deliver a taut, ultra-precise ride, and its handling balance that’s almost unfathomable for a 2.2-tonne, 1.6-metre-tall vehicle.
The National drove the Purosangue at its international media launch, where Ferrari’s events team had mapped out an interesting drive route that took us from the northern Italian town of Pinzolo to the lofty ski resort of Chalet Rocce Rosse — high up in the Italian Dolomites — and back again.
Before we set off, a few minutes were required simply to survey the Purosangue from all angles. There’s a clear demarcation between the lower and upper sections of the car, with the lower half described as being more “technical” as it features a raft of aero elements to optimise airflow and cooling.
The upper half of the car is pure Ferrari. All curves and bulges, it manages to look svelte yet muscular. Arguably the best angle is the rear three-quarter, where you can take in the steeply raked roofline, voluptuous haunches and subtle Kamm-tail that kicks up gently before sharply dropping away.
Getting in and out of the car requires no yogic contortions as the high hip point (by Ferrari’s standards) means you can simply slide in. The cabin has an open airy feel — especially in the glass-roofed car we tested — and the seats are superbly contoured in both front and rear.
The V12 fires up with trademark Ferrari drama, but it recedes into the background as you ease away from standstill and trundle down the road. Ferrari’s claim that this is the quietest car its built isn’t without substance. Drive it sedately and you’ll barely be aware of the V12’s presence.
A different animal emerges as traffic thins and the road turns twisty. The V12 responds to the slightest prod of the throttle, and the eight-speed dual-clutch auto is brilliantly fast and intuitive, as we’ve come to expect from Ferrari’s other models. The Purosangue goes from 0-100kph in 3.3 seconds and has a top speed of 310kph.
The roads we’re on are narrow, especially in a 2,028mm-wide car, but a commanding (yet not too high) seating position makes for good forward and lateral visibility, while the precise and tactile steering makes it easy to accurately point the car.
With a few more kilometres under the belt, we explore the Purosangue’s performance envelope more fully. It’s almost hard to fathom this is a 2.2-tonne projectile, especially as we tackle the ascent to Chalet Rocce Rosse, perched 2,250 metres above sea level.
This stretch is strewn with a mix of hairpins and faster, more open corners. The harder you push it, though, the more Purosangue encourages you up the intensity. Each tweak of the steering elicits an immediate response, while the predominantly rear-wheel-drive set-up means you can also adjust the car’s attitude via your right foot. There’s seemingly endless grip and traction, while the four-wheel-steer helps to hide the Purosangue’s lengthy 3,018mm wheelbase through tight hairpins.
The Manettino switch on the steering wheel has Ice, Wet, Comfort, Sport and ESC Off drive mode settings and the Purosangue’s active suspension system means there’s more adjustability than in other Ferraris. Pushing down on the Manettino in Comfort mode gives you the option of selecting Soft or Medium damper settings, while in Sport mode you can select Soft, Medium or Hard. Even with the Hard setting selected, ride quality never deteriorates to bone-jarring levels.
Apart from being a scintillating driver’s car, the Ferrari Purosangue can also fulfil the brief for a relaxed, refined highway cruiser and fuss-free rush-hour transporter. It’s a magnificent ultra-high-performance SUV. The only questions are: Can you afford it, and are you prepared to wait more than two years to take delivery?
Updated: March 08, 2023, 3:33 AM