2023 Ferrari Purosangue Review: Maranello’s first SUV maintains the magic
Say after me: Pur-row-sang-way. Not poor or purr—the car isn’t hard up, and it’s not a cat.
One more try. This time, run it all together. That’s the best approximation I can give of how all the Italians I have met seem to pronounce Purosangue. The word means thoroughbred. It is also the name of Ferrari’s first SUV.
Now that you can confidently walk into your dealer and order one, you should know what you’ll be paying more than $400,000 for. This is Ferrari’s first four-door. It is also, Ferrari says, the marque’s first full four-seater. This vehicle is not, the company is at pains to stress, an alternative to the Aston Martin DBX, the Lamborghini Urus, the Bentley Bentayga, or the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT.
So what is it, exactly? Perhaps it’s best described as a practical sports car.
There is nearly 17 cubic feet of luggage space, which is not enormous, but you can increase that by folding down the rear seats, at which point I suspect you could fit in a bicycle minus its front wheel. As for those rear seats, they feel quite special. You get a proper bucket seat to sit in, leg room is perfectly acceptable even for a tall chap like me, and the feeling of space is enhanced by the electrochromic and panoramic glass roof—a five-figure option, and a feature that, I suspect, helps alleviate any claustrophobia imparted by the standard carbon roof.
The doors next to those rear seats are rear-hinged, as on a BMW i3 or Rolls-Royce Phantom. They are also electrically operated, with neat little exterior switches reminiscent of miniaturised versions of those on a Ferrari 488. If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit too “school run,” have no fear. Under the hood is a naturally aspirated, 6.5-liter V-12, the same basic piece used in the marque’s 812 Superfast. And perhaps surprisingly, at a time when car makers are being made to race toward electrification, Ferrari says the Purosangue will get no other engine.
That V-12 puts out 715 hp. For Purosangue use, Ferrari has redesigned the intake system to improve the torque figure to 528 lb-ft, with 422 lb-ft available from just 2100 rpm. There are two gearboxes—the same eight-speed DCT you’ll find in a 296 GTB, for the rear wheels, and a two-speed ‘box hanging off the engine’s nose, for the fronts, the same basic layout we first saw in Ferrari’s four-seat, all-wheel-drive FF hatchback. The Purosangue also gets the rear-wheel steering system that debuted on the 812 Competition.
Specs: 2023 Ferrari Purosangue
- Price: from $402,050
- Engine: Naturally aspirated, 6.5-liter V-12
- Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch (rear wheels), two-speed automatic (front wheels), combined for adaptive all-wheel drive
- Output: 715 hp @ 7750 rpm, 528 lb-ft @ 6250 rpm
- Weight: 4850 lb. (est.)
- Fuel economy: n/a
- 0-60mph: 3.3 seconds (est.)
- Top speed: 193 mph (est.)
Most intriguing of all is the suspension system introduced here. Featuring technology developed by Canadian motorsport force Multimatic, it places a motor on each of the car’s dampers, and that motor can either slow down or accelerate the damper stem in accordance to chassis need and conditions. In theory, an active suspension of this nature allows for more precise body control, but it also allows ride quality and body control to be treated as independent problems. As a result, Ferrari’s traditional wheel-mounted “manettino” chassis-mode switch offers the usual modes here (Ice, Wet, Comfort, Sport, ESC Off) but also a separate, three-level choice of ride quality (Hard, Medium, Soft).
How does all that translate to the driving experience? Well, up in the spectacular mountains of northern Italy, dashing through avalanche tunnels with golden bars of light streaming onto the road, it felt pretty damn good. The engine in particular is spectacular. It sounds angry and beautiful and every bit as good as a Ferrari V-12 should. Flicking the paddles up and down the gears, there is a scintillating vibrance to the drivetrain’s character.
Before I drove the Purosangue, I thought that a car like this with a naturally aspirated, high-revving V-12 was a bit ridiculous. And it is. An engine of this complexity and personality makes no real sense in a machine purporting to be practical. Something smaller and turbocharged, or even better, hybridized, would be more befitting, and let’s face it, more befitting the environmentally conscious world in which we live.
But this is a Ferrari. There are plenty of companies whose sole remit is the production of millions of conscientious and convenient cars. I think it entirely right that even Ferrari’s most useable vehicle is still slightly unhinged and removed from real life. That’s how it should be, right?
To that extent, the fact that the suspension is tuned more sporting than you’d think is probably acceptable. I expected Multimatic’s True Active Spool Valve technology to give a little more plushness in comfort mode, but even at low speed, there’s a more granular sense of connection to the road than you find in more detached and cosseting hyperluxury SUVs, like the Bentayga or DBX.
The upside is, when you switch to Sport, you feel the whole car tense. There is that lovely, distinctly Ferrari feel to how the car carves through turns, leaning into a precisely defined edge of grip. There’s no disguising the Purosangue’s weight, particularly under braking—the model is lower-slung than the aforementioned Bentley and Aston, but it’s still 4800 pounds before passengers and luggage. In fact, braking is the one dynamic area where I felt a little uncomfortable with the body control. The lack of pitch as you lean hard on the brakes is somehow a touch too unnatural.
Our test car’s winter tires certainly magnified the Purosangue’s playfulness. With drive going solely to the rear wheels until the electronics determine help is required, you can get the tail moving around. On the slippery mountain roads, the Ferrari felt nimble and mobile but controllable. The steering is more akin to that of Ferrari’s entry-level Portofino in that it’s a touch slower to react than the Ferrari norm, but this suits the Purosangue’s character. You obviously sit higher than you would in a Ferrari sports car, but the position still has a sporty feel, and the view out incorporates the tops of the front fender arches, making the car easy to place.
Less easy to control is the infotainment system, which still relies largely on haptic switches on the steering wheel. Although some indents have been added to help guide your thumb, it’s not particularly easy to use, especially with Apple CarPlay, which was designed with touchscreens in mind. By contrast, I rather liked the rotary control that rises from the dash center to let you adjust climate control and seats. And the Burmester stereo—wow. Alongside the entertainment from that V-12, the Purosangue definitely has aural pleasure covered.
So what to conclude? Ferrari is adamant that this four-door with raised ground clearance and a Hill Descent mode is not an SUV. This is sort of understandable, because next to cars like the Cayenne, the Urus, and the DBX, the Purosangue is demonstrably different in shape and demeanor. There isn’t really a niche to put it in, which might be a good thing, or it might mean the concept is as confused as your author.
Not that it really matters. No matter how well you enunciate Pur-row-sang-way in a dealership, you won’t be able to order one. Or at least, not soon. Demand has caused the model’s order books to be frozen for the foreseeable future, and dealers will only take expressions of interest. (That’s “waiting list” to you and me.)
Frustrating as this might be for some, the reason for it is rather pleasing: Ferrari has said it won’t build a huge number of these. If the company stays true to its word, the Purosangue will only ever account for 20 percent of Maranello’s output.
If you’ve been able to buy one, this is likely comforting, beneficial as it should be for the car’s residual value. For those who place the Italian carmaker on a pedestal, it means that the arguably sacrosanct prancing-horse badge won’t be uncomfortably diluted. When you spot a Ferrari, whether two doors or four, it will still feel a little unusual. And, most important, special.
2023 Ferrari Purosangue
Highs: That Ferrari mystique and magic, now in a family-size four-seater with all-wheel drive. Yet another way to put Maranello’s magnificent V-12 in your garage. Looks great in red.
Lows: Inarguable brand dilution from a company that once only made sports and GT cars. Significant mass from a marque that has long specialized in light weight. A substantial waiting list.
Takeaway: What you drive when the Enzo, the LaFerrari, the 250 TR, the 288 GTO, and the 250 SWB are in the shop. Or when their drama doesn’t fit the day or family. Nice work, if (with that waiting list) you can get it.
Via Hagerty UK