3 good reasons Ferrari should not have done this thing
I want to make it very clear that when people marched against Lamborghini a few years ago, after they’d announced they were doing an SUV, I was at home with a cup of tea.
Yes, I think SUVs are ugly, and can’t comprehend why anyone would have a Stelvio over a Giulia – and don’t say because they love skiing holidays, because if a Beetle with chains can work in Antarctica, then a modern sedan can go to the Alps – but I don’t have a moral objection to them. Not even when they come from brands that seem a bit unlikely.
I fully get the pragmatic, cash cow argument – if you don’t eat up all your Macan, there’ll be no Porsche 918 Spyder – but more than that, I don’t see there’s anything particularly incongruous about a Lamborghini SUV. They’ve done one before. They’ve done a bike, for goodness sake. They’re allowed to. They’re mad.
And the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is also perfectly okay, because while they’ve never actually done one before, there’s nothing in their brand essence that rules out a high-rider. As long as it’s got quilted seats - and in the words of Patch Quartermain, “goes like the wind, only quieter”, there is no disturbance in the force.
Ferrari, though, is a different case entirely. Here's why they shouldn't.
1) SERGIO MARCHIONNE SAID THEY WOULDN'T
While others succumbed around them, Ferrari insisted it would never, ever build an SUV. Fiat Chrysler’s Chairman and the man in charge of Ferrari, Sergio Marchionne, even said, “Over my dead body”, and while it’s true that he is, unfortunately, now dead, it was him that betrayed us all.
He argued that Enzo had sort of told him to do it, in a dream. Which brings me to the next point.
2) ENZO FERRARI WOULDN'T
This is the man who said, "The client is not always right", who wouldn’t even let cars with a 6-cylinder bear the prestigious Ferrari name. He actually loved his son, though, so contrary to what a lot of arrogant aficionados seem to infer, calling them Dinos wasn’t a put-down.
And I’m not one to get too sentimental about the spirit of the founder, and all that, because we live in a different era and frankly, the living take precedence over the dead. But there’s still something a bit tragic when a company strays from its founder’s vision, especially when that company is Ferrari and that founder is Enzo.
Some would say that the LaFerrari's hybrid powertrain is just as guilty. But arguably not, because it's still Ferrari making the best engine, but in an another era. An SUV is far more of a stretch...
3) IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE FERRARI ESSENCE
We know the argument. Performance is linked with lowness; a low centre of gravity and closeness to the ground. Every step, then, towards height is a step away from handling prowess. This is a fine enough trade, if you’re focusing on gaining the off-road benefits of extra ride height, but here’s the thing. What business has a Ferrari in chasing off-road benefits, even indirectly, over performance and handling?
This is exactly why Ferrari’s designer - Flavio Manzoni - who knows what’s what, said, “Every time we work on a new Ferrari we try to improve every aspect, including the centre of gravity – so an SUV is not a Ferrari. I don’t understand why so many other brands are doing them. In my opinion it shows a lack of courage.”
So then, what makes it one rule for Ferrari and another for Porsche?
Porsche is about sports car handling too, and actually, of all the brands that now do SUVs, Porsche would be the one I’d have the most disagreement with. Obviously a Macan and Cayenne won’t deliver the same level of athletic ability as a 911. So there’s a bit of a gap between those Porsches and the others – and this I’d argue is fine, because Porsche is mainstream enough.
But Ferrari is too thoroughbred. There was no Beetle or tractor-making start for them. They’re marinated in Formula One. From the beginning, they have been the purest and most prestigious maker of cars. Their engines have been superb. Their designs have been aerodynamic, and focused.
And sorry, the market could go to electric mobility scooters, for all it matters. Ferrari can’t follow.