In a move that triggered the gag reflex of Maranello traditionalists around the world, Ferrari recently unveiled its first SUV, the Purosangue (which sounds an awful lot like an Asian soup I had once). For a company renowned for producing some of the most iconic supercars ever made, this is borderline sacrilegious and a Very Big Deal.

Why is it such a big deal?

In 2014, the then-CEO of FCA (now known as Stellantis), the late Sergio Marchionne, infamously usurped Ferrari’s long-standing CEO, Luca di Montezemolo. By the end of his career at the Maranello brand, Ferrari wasn’t just Montzemolo’s employer. It was his identity.

Montezemolo first joined the company in 1973 as Enzo Ferrari’s (the company’s founder) right-hand man and went on to manage Ferarri’s World Championship-winning Formula One racing division. After Enzo’s passing, Montezemolo became the company’s president and set about immortalising Ferrari as the purveyor of the world’s best supercars. He succeeded. Montezemolo was aggressively protective of Ferrari’s exclusive reputation and fervently against the notion of a Ferrari SUV which would surely make old Enzo turn in his grave.

But Marchionne wanted more. Seduced by the allure of increased volume and related profits, Marchionne ousted Montezemolo—rightly or wrongly—in a bid to take the brand to new profit-breaking heights. As Marchionne addressed the media at the Paris motor show in 2014, Montezemolo disparaged his usurper: “He wants to build a truck!”

For years, Marchionne denied such allegations. Indeed, during a Ferrari earnings call in 2016, Marchionne insisted that an SUV wouldn’t align with Ferrari’s DNA and said "You [would] have to shoot me first” before the brand built such a vehicle.

And then, in 2018, the truth came out. Montzemolo was right. Ferrari was going to build an SUV. Except it wasn’t.

I’m confused.

When Marchionne first announced that Ferrari was going to be building an SUV he went to great lengths to avoid describing it as such. Instead, he opted to call what we now know as the Purosangue an “FUV” or “whatever Ferrari thinks a utility vehicle ought to look like.”

Ferrar calls it an “authentic Ferrari four-door sports car."

Fast forward to today and the Purosangue’s press release is much the same. Ferrari insists the Purosangue is empathically not an SUV. Instead, it calls it a “four-door four-seater,” an “authentic Ferrari four-door sports car,” and goes as far as to say that it is a “peerless encapsulation of the Prancing Horse’s iconic DNA.”

Sports car, my ass.

Sounds like denial to me.

Denial or not, the Purosangue is a unique proposition in the seemingly oversaturated SUV market.

Unlike most SUVs which have the engine mounted towards the front axle and gearbox bolted directly onto it, the Purosangue boasts a mid-front-mounted engine with the gearbox (an 8-speed F1 DCT) positioned at the rear to create a “sporty transaxle layout” with a balanced 49:51% weight distribution.

You lost me. What engine does it have?

A 6.5-litre, whale-killing, naturally aspirated V12 that produces a biblical 533kW (725PS) and 716Nm (528lb-ft).

I’m back.

Wait until you hear it redlining at a glorious 8250rpm. Legend has it Jesus revved a Ferrari V12 to raise Lazarus from the dead.

I presume it’s quick.

Despite weighing in at a lardy 2033kg (dry), Ferrari swears the Purosangue can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.3 seconds and will pass 200km/h in 10.6 seconds. Flat out, it’ll top 310 km/h.

More impressive than its sprinting ability, though, is the Purosangue’s stopping power. The Purosangue’s prodigious brakes (front: 398mm; rear: 380mm) will bring it to a halt from 10km/h in just 32.8m. In a car the size of a city block (4973mm long, 2028mm wide, 1589mm tall), that is remarkable.

I suspect it’ll handle better than it should, too, thanks to a fastidiously complicated all-wheel drive system, independent four-wheel steering and 48V active suspension setup from the wizards at Multimatic.

I don’t half mind how it looks.

It may look like the love child of Megatron and a hippopotamus, but the Purosangue’s design somehow works.

Though, the cladding around the wheels looks naff and is inexcusable on a car that’s expected to cost more than AUD$600,000 when it eventually arrives on Australian shores.

Six hundred thousand?! What are they smoking?!

And yet, Ferrari will have no problem selling every single one they dare to produce.

What’s it like on the inside?

Well, it’s no Bentley, but it’ll do.

The electrically adjustable bucket seats in the rear are delicious, but I’m not convinced by the garish, alien-looking dashboard.

It’s not particularly practical, either. It only has a 473-litre boot—more than 400L less than a Land Rover Defender—will require shares in Shell to fuel and can only be had with four seats. And if you so much as think of venturing off the tarmac, it’ll throw a tantrum and combust. Probably.

You’re being cynical, but I suspect you rather like it.

I do. I just wished Ferrari would call a spade a spade and christen the Purosangue an SUV, even if it is a bit crap at the ‘UV’ bit of the Sports Utility Vehicle equation

What does the name ‘Purosangue’ mean?

Purosangue is Italian for ‘thoroughbred.’ They should have gone with ‘Rifiuto,’ instead.

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