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Ferrari Purosangue four-seater on tour in New Zealand

WORDS: JEREMY TAYLOR | PHOTOS: FERRARI

Ferrari may feel disgruntled that its first ‘proper’ family car is lumbered with the ubiquitous SUV tag, but the Purosangue is as svelte and stylish as any vehicle with enough space to carry a chest of drawers.

True, the Purosangue may sit further off the ground than any previous Ferrari, but chief designer Flavio Manzoni has cleverly found the sweet spot – an elegant compromise between low-level supercar and high-rise SUV.

Maranello has a history of creating driving tours to launch ground-breaking models, but the Purosangue is so important that an epic trip to New Zealand was the first of its kind in over 15 years.

Forget electric motors and hybrid systems – the naturally aspirated V12 is proper old-school

Forget electric motors and hybrid systems – the naturally aspirated V12 is proper old-school

The only unanswered question during a three-day trek around the South Island is just why the company deemed it necessary to travel 11,000 miles to prove the Purosangue’s abilities. The Italians have a perfectly good set of mountains just up the road, called the Alps.

Still, nobody on this trip is complaining. Ferrari’s super-SUV weighs in at 2.2 tonnes, but it also packs a mighty punch. Forget electric motors and hybrid systems – the naturally aspirated V12 is proper old-school. A 6.5-litre engine returns 715bhp and 528lb ft of raucous torque.

Mated to an eight-speed transmission, the Purosangue races from 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds and keeps on going up to 193mph. Emissions of 393g/km and 16.3mpg are, however, hardly in line with New Zealand’s clean-air image.

I doubt many buyers will care. With four doors and enough space for four passengers, the Purosangue gives the brand access to a new sector of family owners for the first time. It will likely do for Ferrari sales what the Urus did for Lamborghini and the DBX has done for Aston Martin.

Except in this instance, the £313,000 Purosangue does look less like a conventional SUV and more like a traditional Berlinetta. That’s why the company is insistent that despite a pair of proper rear seats, a 473-litre boot, extra ground clearance and chunky carbon wheelarch surrounds, their offering is actually a dynamic coupé and not an SUV at all. You be the judge.

On the impossibly twisty road to Milford Sound – New Zealand’s must-see fjord awash with both cascading waterfalls and tourists – a four-wheel-drive system designed for sure-footed cornering rather than off-road ability provides masses of grip (a 30mm-lift system is an optional extra, which seems a bit cheeky considering the model’s £300k-plus price). The Purosangue is no small unit, but body control, handling and ride comfort are simply beyond comparison for an SUV.

Much of that is down to a highly technical – some might say over-engineered – active-suspension system that utilises two spool valves to rebound and compress the set-up on each wheel when needed. True Active Spool Valve (TASV) talks to the Purosangue’s computer brain and, supported by a 48-volt electric unit, ensures each corner is sprung to perfection whatever the road conditions.

Hurl it around any corner, and the Purosangue (Italian for ‘thoroughbred’) feels sure-footed and precise. Flick through the gears on the paddle shifter, and that glorious dry-sump V12 provides a stirring soundtrack as it gobbles through the 100-litre tank of super unleaded.

Stepping inside the most spacious Ferrari ever is easy, whatever your girth. This is mainly thanks to electric ‘suicide doors’ – a term you won’t find in the Purosangue brochure, but an unfortunate moniker once given to rear-hinged door designs. Back then, they could pop open at speed and fling anyone attempting to hang onto the handle out into the road.

I’m also not entirely sure why we need electrically operated doors on any car. There are a few slow-motion moments when tumbleweed rolls by as I wait patiently for them to open and close. At least the rear-hinged set-up is a showstopper for onlookers. It also offers unrivalled, barn-door access to the Purosangue’s plush interior.

The front bucket seats are multi-adjustable, supportive and boast all the whistles and bells you would expect at this dizzy price point. However, the two individual rear seats are not as comfortable as they should be, mostly due to insufficient lateral support, which is, perhaps, a major oversight in any Ferrari.

Rear head- and legroom are excellent, while the back seat uprights fold flat at the touch of a button to provide a genuinely impressive amount of luggage space. Just watch out when sliding heavy suitcases in, because the high position of the fixed centre rear armrest means the leather will be scuffed and damaged (it took three Ferrari people to gently massage my suitcases in).

Such issues will likely not bother anyone prepared to pay £300,000-plus for an individually specced Purosangue. Ferrari announced last year that the car was already sold out until 2026, which also means the controversy about whether or not the brand should build an SUV in the first place is proved groundless.

The Purosangue may not be as practical as the Urus or a DBX, but it does drive better than both – or any other SUV, for that matter. Purists will hate it, while there’s a tad less glamour than any other car bearing the prancing horse badge. All said and done, the Purosangue still has the pace and feel of a true Ferrari.