The Two-Tonne Ferrari Purosangue Is Surprisingly Light On Its Wheels
A daring dalliance in the ice-capped mountains of Queenstown proves the adamantly not-an-SUV 12-cylinder Ferrari four-door Purosangue just as nimble as its coupe stablemates.
There’s something deeply rewarding about abandoning logic and committing to something counterintuitive. Particularly if that something involves being told to turn the traction control off on a giant V12-powered Ferrari Pursoangue, firing it onto a snow-covered field and then sending it sideways, all 12 cylinders blazing.
True, that’s not so much counterintuitive as just plain madness; the special kind that Ferrari embraces when it holds its Esperianza events for customers, as it recently did for almost 100 Australians and New Zealanders who’ve all slapped down deposits on the new Purosangue SUV. A day of ice-driving insanity does distract one wonderfully from the long, long wait (at least a year, possibly two) for your $728,000 car to arrive. Plus, you get to flog someone else’s mercilessly.
What is piercingly counterintuitive is being told to drive with your foot, not your hands. This was the constant and admittedly wise shouted advice from our unfailingly positive and encouraging Ferrari driving instructor, Jason, who told us that what we needed to do was “calm our arms” and use the force of our right foot instead.
In my defence, flailing my arms around like a man being attacked by a cyclone of bees felt like the only plausible response to feeling two tonnes of furious Ferrari sliding savagely sideways every time I attempted to make it through the cruel course of cones they’d set up for us to tackle at the Snow Farm (a winter-testing facility used by all the world’s biggest car companies during the northern hemisphere summer).
To truly master the deeply satisfying art of ice driving, particularly in a machine with 533kW and 716Nm, one must be patient, using sharp steering movements to send your Ferrari in the direction you’re hoping to travel before then controlling the ensuing sideways motion, while looking out the side windows to see where you’re going, by either stamping the throttle—which produces gloriously absurd noises as your V12 hits 8000rpm—or caressing it gently.
Get this delicate dance right and you can send your Purosangue across the snow in a series of pendulum-like arches, or even hold it in a long, arcing, ice-chip-firing circle, a move that will make you feel like almost as much of a driving God as Jason clearly is.
Adding to the extreme fun levels of the Esperienza Queenstown experience was a fleet of the world’s greatest car, the Ferrari 296 (in both hard top GTB and convertible GTS guises). While you might think that adding even more power to the equation—610kW and 718Nm from its hybridised V6—on snow would be a handful, the lower and more perfectly balanced super car is easier to send sideways and even to hold there.
At the end of the day, the assembled customers’ faces were brighter than even their Ferrari-branded clothing, and even keener for their Purosangues to arrive.
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