If the new Ferrari GTC4Lusso is too quiet for your liking, here’s who to blame: the bloody marketing types.
They're the ones who did all the research on its four-seat forebear, the far less pretty Ferrari FF, and discovered that its customers were, on average, 10 years younger than typical Ferraristas; quite likely to have children; and made 60 per cent of their trips in the car with all the seats filled.
The marketing types thus decided that what buyers of the Lusso will want is a car with “refined acoustics for city driving” because they “don’t want to scare the children when the engine starts”.
According to Pietroni Attilio, from Ferrari’s Powertrain Division, this created something of a challenge when working with a naturally aspirated V12 engine. Fortunately the marketeers also decreed that it should make a “stronger, very huge sound when you want it to”.
“The people from marketing told us that it needed to be quieter, that that’s what the customers wanted, so that’s what we had to do,” Attilio explains.
“So we did the first version and they said it was still too loud, so we had to go back and work on NVB and try to get it even quieter.
“It’s not easy, because they don’t just want one car, effectively they want two. We still want it to sound like a Ferrari if you put your foot down, or under certain loads, but when it’s just driving around town or cruising on the highway, it has to be quieter.”
A lot of work went into the bypass valve for the exhaust system, which now stays closed a lot more of the time, sadly, to give that low, quiet, non-child-bothering rumble, particularly when the Manettino is in “Comfort” mode.
“The other hard part is that our test drivers are not our customers; they go out and drive the new car around the track and come back saying they want more noise, that we need to make it louder, but we have to tell them that they are not the customer, and they need to think more like them,” Attilio adds. “It’s a constant battle. But in the end, I think we’ve come up with a car that can do both things.”
Ferrari knows that sound is a vital part of its appeal, and thus the company boss, Sergio Marchionne, has sworn that it will never build an EV, because a silent Ferrari would be a crime, like a Quentin Tarantino movie without the swearing and violence.
Attillio also assured us that V12 engines – naturally aspirated ones – are very much a part of the company’s plans going forward, because there will always be traditional buyers who want them - even the loud ones.
But he conceded that Ferrari will work on “other engines, and hybrids, and V6 engines, to help get our fuel economy down”.
So, will it be possible to make a V6 that sounds like a Ferrari, or will the Italians fall into the farty-sounding hole that Porsche has plunged itself into by cutting two cylinders off its Boxster engine?
“Regardless of the number of cylinders, sound is still very important to us, and we would never put on sale a car that doesn’t sound like a Ferrari,” he insisted.