WHEN YOU THINK of Ferrari, you probably think of a wickedly fast, wickedly expensive two-seat sports car. And when you think of cars in general, you probably think of vehicles that steer by turning the front wheels.

If that’s the case, the all-new GTC4 Lusso will surprise you. The latest prancing horse, set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show the first week of March, is a four-seat shooting brake (what plebeians call a hatchback) that replaces the outgoing FF as the four-door family-friendly Ferrari.

The GTC4Lusso (no space, per Ferrari) has all the specs and stats you expect from Maranello: The 6.2-liter V12 engine cranks out 680 horsepower when you rev it up to 8,000 rpm (where you know it sounds glorious), enough to send you from 0 to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds. Top speed is equally stratospheric at a claimed 207 mph.

Nothing terribly surprising in any of that, and it mirrors the all-wheel-drive FF. Where the Lusso breaks with tradition is its new spin on old(ish) tech. The car sports a control system called 4RM-S, which delivers four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. Ferrari says the system provides “the exhilaration of Ferrari driving anywhere, anytime, anyhow.” Although the GTC4 Lusso marks the first time anyone’s packed AWD and 4WS (and how’s that for alphabet soup?) into the same car, the steering riffs on an idea automakers have played with intermittently since Honda introduced the tech to the masses with the Prelude Si 4WS.

The discreet pioneer was born out of research meant to make Honda cars safer. In 1977, the company held a brainstorming session to hash out improved active safety features (things that prevent crashes instead of mitigating their damage) on its cars. Out of that confab came four-wheel steering, Honda’s bid to build a car that could swerve around obstacles at speed without losing control.

When you’ve got four-wheel steering on board, two things can happen. At low speeds, the rear wheels turned slightly in the opposite direction from the front wheels. This tightens the turning radius and makes little moves like parking easier. It’s commonly used on way big machines like monster trucks and tractors. At speed, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as those up front, improving stability. (Or, as The New York Times wrote in 1987: “You simply think about where you want to be and you are there.”)

The tech has evolved in the years since and appeared in a handful of cars, and is seeing something of a renaissance. Porsche embraced it in 2013, using it in the 911 GT3, 911 Turbo, and 918 Spyder. Acura uses “all-wheel steering” in its 2014 RLX and several other models. Now Ferrari is leveling up 4WS by pairing it with four-wheel drive, to deliver the improved stability and control in conditions that merit sending power to all the wheels, like snow. So basically, the new Lusso should be able to compete in and win an Olympic figure skating competition. Or something like that.

Ferrari hasn’t revealed pricing for the Lusso just yet, but the FF it’s replacing starts at just under $300,000. If you’ve got that kind of cash and want to use your Ferrari to go places with your kids rather than escape them, maybe it’s time to load up the skis and haul it up the mountain.

- Source: Wired.com 

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