The Malibu region of Los Angeles conjures up images of great beach front property and the opening credits from the hit TV series Two and a Half Men. Equally synonymous are the properties adorning the Malibu hills and within them hills lays the perfect set of canyon roads to test out the handling qualities of a Ferrari. A little internet research had provided information on what areas to avoid (the Snake) and what roads might be free of traffic.
Saturday the 13th of October was the best day I have ever spent behind the wheel of a supercar on public roads. It was simply the awesome combination of challenging canyons roads combined with the performance and handling of the Ferrari Lusso T that made my day. We headed out from our base in Thousand Oaks around 10am not really sure about the state of traffic we might find at that time on a Saturday morning. The answer was little to none, our biggest worry was avoiding early morning cyclists. Our day began on Mulholland Highway, a teasing strip of asphalt that allowed us to open up the taps a little and see what 602hp felt like in the Lusso T (the Lusso T is capable of hitting 199 mph). The Lusso T lacks oral excitement below 4500 rpm, but after that the harmonic rumble will leave you wanting to keep the rev counter permanently above 4500 rpm.
We turned off Mulholland highway onto Stunt road, a back road devoid of traffic deliciously filled with curvaceous tarmac. On this road the Lusso T showed off its handling capabilities, which were more akin to a sports car than a grand tourer. The ability of Ferrari engineers to disguise the weight and length of this car is nothing less than engineering genius. Ferrari steering wheels feel very light, which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have gotten so used to them over the past few years that I cannot conceive of driving a Ferrari without this type of steering. All the power in the world is useless without terrific stopping power and this the Lusso T has in abundance. The danger in these canyons are small rockslides by the side of the road and mud (it actually rained the previous night), which could easily damage a tire or worse send you down a canyon without any control. I was mindful of the words of Jedi Master Yoda to Luke Skywalker, “control you must learn control”.
The first part of our exhilarating drive came to a rather abrupt end as we reached the top of Stunt Road and prepared to turn onto Schueren Road we were engulfed in fog. We slowed down to a crawl as we could not see more than a few feet in front of us. It gave us time to reflect on the drive thus far. I felt so alive, the adrenaline was pumping and I was in love with the performance of the Lusso T. The fog abated allowing us to transition onto Piuma road, an equally sumptuous road with more tests for the Lusso T only this time we were heading downhill.
We took a small respite at Malibu Canyon overlook to catch our breath, and take in the fine vista. I must commend Saverio for some fine video and camera work. The overlook is also known as the David M Brown Overlook. David was a conservationist who was instrumental in preventing this area being turned into a highway and preserving the area as public parkland.
Resuming our rally car run we continued along Piuma Road eventually reconnecting with Mulholland Highway which took us at long last down to the Pacific coast Highway. Miles and miles of breaking surf was our companion as we headed along the highway at a serine 55mph proving the Lusso T can hustle it with the best supercars and then mellow out as a grand tourer on the highway. Our final destination was NAS Point Mugu Missile Park, home appropriately enough to a historical display of missiles used by the US Navy. As an extra treat we had two gate guardians in the form of a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and a Pete “Maverick” Grumman F-14 Tomcat from Top Gun. I am an aviation enthusiasts and I love teaming up my test supercars together with plane. Last year I took a Ferrari 488 spider to meet the famous Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird at the Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale. California sunsets are rather beautiful so we spent sunset with the Lusso T at the Missile Park.
Sunday was mostly highway driving, not my favourite activity while in L.A. as it tends to test my patience. Driving on the 101 at least allowed me to drive the Lusso T at a steady pace. One essential device to engage was the bumpy road button on the steering wheel to help smooth out the ruinous state of California highways. The Lusso T benefits from a set of tongue twisting engineering acronyms: E-Diff (electronically actuated differential), Side Slip Control (yaw rate), F1 TRAC (traction control), ESP 9.0 (stability control) and SCM-E (magnetorheological dampers). All these systems combine seamlessly enabling the driver to simply enjoying driving this magnificent car.
Marvelling at all this Ferrari technology made for the perfect transition to our next destination, Elon Musk’s SpaceX located on (I kid you not) Rocket Road in Hawthorne. I had to get a picture of the Lusso T and the first successful reusable rocket produced by SpaceX, the Falcon 9. Seeing Falcon 9 in person gives you a much great appreciation for the scale of the rocket and the landing legs in particular. Sadly we did not catch a glimpse of Elon Musk.
For me the Lusso T will always be a Ferrari, it drives like a Ferrari, it handles like a Ferrari, sounds like a Ferrari, only now it is a truly useful Ferrari in addition to being a thoroughbred grand touring machine. Now for many the styling will remain an issue, being hatchback and all that, for me I love the look of the Lusso T. Design wise some of the harsher lines of the FF have been smoothed out in the Lusso T. From the moment you get inside the car you know you are in a Ferrari. I love the lightly weighted steering which always conveyed a sense of control over the car, allied to this was the performance and power of the V8 made me want to keep on driving forever.
I would be lying if I said the V8 gave me the same audiogasm as the V12 in the FF. To get the aural drama out of the V8 twin turbo you need to work the rev range beyond 4500 rpm and then you get sweet beautiful music. I did manage to find a tunnel to engage my audio delight. The Lusso T will give you all the driving enjoyment of the V12 Lusso. The power delivery from the V8 is smooth, as the 7spd dual clutch works effortlessly in auto or in manual. I stayed in manual for my canyon driving and boy did I enjoy taking control of the gears through those canyons. As for the four wheel drive I found the seamless integration of the E-DIFF, Side Slip, F1TRAC and ESP 9.0 into the rear wheel drive did not make me miss the all-wheel drive system at all.
I would buy this car in a heartbeat. Ferrari Vancouver has blue Lusso T with black interior for sale for at $417000 (Canadian). Should I come in handfuls of cash in the next little while I am going into Ferrari Vancouver to buy that Lusso T. I have been fortunate to drive the latest Ferrari’s from the California, to the F12, to the 488 spider and they are all marvelous creations, but the FF and now the Lusso is the one Ferrari I have bonded with more with than any other Ferrari. I would argue that the Lusso T is the perfect practical everyday Ferrari. Even my friend Saverio came around to seeing the practical side of the Ferrari Lusso T. Now for some that may be a heretical statement and detract from the specialness of a Ferrari. For me the Lusso T will always be a Ferrari, it drives like a Ferrari, it handles like a Ferrari, sounds like a Ferrari, only now it is a truly useful Ferrari in addition to being a thoroughbred grand touring machine.
Not everyone will agree with my assessment, however as I said earlier this is my unique car, the one that divides opinion and is a source of discussion. If would be a rather dull world if we all liked the same cars. I spent four glorious days with the Ferrari Lusso T and a week later I am still buzzing with joy from of driving this unique automobile. I have a friend who is flying to San Francisco to pick up an old 1963 Volvo If I had a Lusso T I would tell him not fly instead I would drive him down to San Francisco via the scenic Oregon coast to pick up his car, that is how much I love this car and how much I want to get back into one for a long journey free of any mileage limitations.