Ferrari’s new Purosangue, is not ‘simply’ another supercar; it’s a new chapter for the car marque. Since the brand’s launch in 1947, Ferrari has become synonymous with high-performance two-door cars. The Purosangue bucks this trend as it becomes their first production model with four doors. It’s also the company’s first Luxury Mid-Sized car; I’d hesitate to describe it as an ‘SUV’ in the same way I’d hesitate to describe a Patek Philippe Chronograph Complication as ‘a stopwatch’. It’s a Ferrari… just with four doors.
However, it is clear that the Ferrari chiefs decided it was time to dip their toes into the Luxury Mid-Sized market, and I’d suggest they have jumped straight in with perfect grace and beauty. The team in Maranello are, rightly, incredibly proud of this new venture.
I had the opportunity to join the international press on a test drive high up in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. While more expert voices in the car review world will talk at length about the driving experience (in short – fantastic!), we’ll concentrate on its outstanding audio made by Burmester Audiosysteme.
Under the sleek bonnet/hood is a V12 engine at the front, with the transmission at the rear. While very different to the mid-engined mount seen in most Ferraris, this helps the designers balance the Purosangue to optimise performance. The car has a top speed of 192 mph (310 kph) and boasts 725hp; this is a supercar that seats four in comfort.
The Ferrari Purosangue’s adaptive suspension technology has four settings – Sport, Comfort, Wet & Ice. In addition, each of these has sub-settings. This car is versatile; it could be used for a family vacation – to drive into the mountains to ski or cycle. It even has options for a bike and ski rack. The Comfort setting removes the bumps from the drive to a point where you feel you are floating above the tarmac. Sport however is a different matter. Select ‘Sport, Hard’ and you feel every single stone and bump in the surface, and you are inately connected – almost bonded – to the car itself.
With an eight-speed auto gearbox, the car can purr or roar depending on your bent. And roar it does! The event consisted of some 25 international journalists with around 10 cars between us. Not only was it glorious to be in the car and hear the engine roar as we climbed the mountain roads, but also to hear the other cars’ engines echoing throughout the mountain range was very satisfying! Perhaps not so much for the locals!)
Interior – the Ferrari Lounge
The Ferrari team were keen to portray that their vision for this car was to create a lounge within the vehicle. No longer do rear passengers have to feel cramped, or as though the rear seats were a bonus. The Purosangue offers ample comfort in the rear. The majority of the interior – including the seats – are made from 68% ‘Post-consumer recycled polyester.’ This material is developed by Italian firm Alcantara, which has worked with many luxury brands around the world. It is immediately clear from the touch that this is a super high-quality material despite the ‘polyester’ label. It’s far removed from the artificial leather interiors of old.
The rear section has two seats with a comfortable middle armrest with wireless charging capabilities and temperature controls. All seats have massage functionality and heating capability options. Other interior features include carbon fibre trims dotted throughout the vehicle. The front passenger has a touch screen to control non-driving settings including the Burmester system.
There is an optional carbon fibre roof – to reduce weight – or a glass panoramic roof which has an electrically adjustable opacity.
As you would expect with a car of this calibre, there is a huge list of optional extras from Carbon Side Skirts or Carbon Fibre spoilers to Gold brake callipers.
That being said, the Ferrari Purosangue team have made two significant decisions with this new model. First, they do not include a GPS navigation system. They acknowledge that Apple Maps and Google Maps are better, and more up-to-date than any bespoke product they can produce, so through CarPlay the maps are more accurate.
The second decision is to remove the option of an upgraded sound system. Instead, all Ferrari Purosangues will have the high-performance 21-speaker Burmester system installed as standard.
Both decisions are a bold departure for Ferrari, as other models in the brand’s range have featured an integrated ‘infotainment’ system option complete with navigation, under the Ferrari Genuine banner.
Burmester Audiosysteme’s automotive division has already chalked up successes with systems designed for Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, but adding Ferrari and its bold new Purosangue is a very big feather in the Berlin-based company’s cap. It’s a cooperative venture that works for both sides; Ferrari has access to a level of top-class automotive audio and acoustic engineering that would take decades to create in-house, while Burmester adds another of the most highly sought-after car marques in history to its portfolio.
I have a theory that cars are the best place to listen to an audio system. A car is a fixed and known space – the acoustic engineers and designers know that except for variables like road noise and the number of people in the car, parameters like size, volume, and materials will not change (and even those variables are ‘constrained’; squeezing 10 people into a four-seat car is unlikely at best). This is very much in contrast to a personal listening space: no two are alike, and that space cannot be predicted by acoustic engineers.
The Ferrari Purosangue’s Burmester system comprises over 1,400 watts of amplification, driving 21 speakers, including a subwoofer with it’s own 400 watt amplifier. Interestingly, the system features ribbon tweeters; this is a world first, as these have never been used in production vehicles before.
The main driving day started with a technical briefing. The majority of the journalists were already familiar with the standard Ferrari interface, so the briefing touched on additions and changes in the Purosangue. I wasn’t so familiar with that interface and I left the briefing feeling flummoxed!
We were briefed and given a route with various checkpoints along the way and a meeting point for lunch. It was probably a good hour into the driving before the sound system was switched on, as the initial fun was listening to the engine making its own music as we hurtled through tunnels and around hairpin bends at high altitudes.
Given the intensity of the driving experience, it’s useful that the passenger touchscreen enables complete control of the Burmester preset system, as the driver might be otherwise engaged.
The 10.2 inch screen offers many options from Equaliser to Balance as you would expect; however, there is one setting marked ‘VIP – Seat’ that gives the option to choose any seat and have the music focussed on that position – this tightens up the soundstage and creates a sonic ‘sweet spot’ in one of the four seats. This has been used to great effect in previous Burmester systems in Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-Maybach S-Class cars because the driver is unlikely to be the VIP. This Digital Signal Processing option is arguably even more important in the Ferrari Purosangue, as the VIP listener could be any one of the four people seated in the car.
Burmester has created five presets for the Ferrari Purosangue – Surround, 3D Surround, Stage Plus, Live and Comfort. Each of these settings involves making specific tweaks to the soundstage – I noted that vocals are crystal clear on all settings, although perhaps a little muffled on ‘Comfort’. This preset acts to soften the sound to create a background listening experience.
By far the best for me was the ‘3D Surround’ – the sense of being fully immersed in the music was created, not that you were sitting in the auditorium, rather that you were on stage in the midst of the orchestra, but perfectly balanced. The sound designers have created these presets with hours of research and development. I only hope that a Purosangue owner will explore them to enhance their listening on journeys. That fabulous engine noise might sing a siren’s song, but there’s a lot more to enjoy sonically too.
HMI (Human Machine Interface)
Without a doubt, the Ferrari has one of the most (necessarily) complex driving interfaces I have experienced. Even the steering wheel has a touch-sensitive area, enabling you to scroll through the various options available to the driver. That said, it was ‘somewhat’ clunky and not that touch-sensitive. It took two hours of driving before I could find the steering wheel volume control. At the end of the driving sessions, there were still several buttons left completely unexplored. OK, so some of that was the fear was that one of these would inject an extra 300hp to the already highly excitable V12! In reality, any owner will likely find these features will fall naturally to hand very quickly.
Regardless, the Purosangue brings Ferrari performance to the Luxury Mid-Sized car world. If there is such a thing as an ‘Everyday Ferrari’, it’s the Purosangue. Normally, when dealing with supercars, the car audio has been almost an afterthought, but with this powerful, flexible and extremely well-balanced Burmester system, it becomes an important part of the whole driving experience. Handing the keys back was a real wrench!
Thanks to Olaf Sturm, of i-fidelity for being a great copilot!
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