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An invitation to road-test a Ferrari is something that comes into our hands – always gratefully – from time to time. But an invitation to experience, back-to-back, their 488 GTB and GTC4Lusso models is an offer this Italian made that we simply couldn’t refuse. We spent two days in Dubai, on the city’s streets and beyond, putting these two thoroughbreds through their paces. What did we find?

Rooted in the marque’s racing heritage, the 488 GTB offers its owner a driving experience akin to that of an F1 or GT racer. A two-seater, the car accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3 seconds, and 0-200 in 8.3 – its 7 gear F1 transmission (with the dual clutches) making full use of every ounce of power from the 90-degree V8 motor.

Maranello have tweaked the twin-turbocharged engine to such a level that, truthfully, it experiences zero turbo lag. Mated to the superquick seven-speed transmission, and through their own Variable Torque Management, you’ll be hitting the rev-limiter (still only in fourth gear) less than six seconds after taking off. Racing performance, by any standard.

When you’ve built an engine so fine, you’re going to want to show it off. And that’s exactly what the Ferrari have done here courtesy of its plexiglass engine cover – displaying this fiery redhead to all.

Inside? It’s so Ferrari. The steering wheel is where it’s at. Here you’ll find buttons are lights, wipers, turn signals, plus damper settings, chassis-control and of course engine start. If ever you tire of the orchestral notes from the V8, you’ll take comfort from the knowledge that there’s a twelve-speaker, 1280-watt stereo to keep you entertained.

NOTES: Forty years on from the unveiling of Ferrari’s first ever mid-rear-engined V8 Berlinetta, the 308 GTB, in 2015 the Prancing Horse opened a new chapter in its 8-cylinder history. The 488 GTB name marked a return to the classic Ferrari model designation with the 488 in its moniker indicating the engine’s unitary displacement, while the GTB stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta. The new car not only delivers unparalleled performance; it also makes that extreme power exploitable and controllable to an unprecedented level even by less expert drivers.

A far more luxurious alternative to the 488 GTB, the GTC4Lusso approaches the task of getting from A-to-B in as short a time as possible from a different angle – with its 4 seats, this is essentially a true grand tourer.

Slower? Hardly. The Lusso accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, and will get you to 200 in 10.5 (not that we’re advocating such high speeds on public roads, you understand). The same 7 speed gearbox as in the 488 GTB delivers the same snappy F1-feel. Wherever you are, the security delivered by its permanent 4-wheel drive and 4-wheel steering imbue the model with a clarity of control that is unrivalled in this sector.

It’s an automobile that it very clear about its identity. It’s not a car designed for ‘hot laps’ (although it acquitted itself astonishingly well around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track), instead this is a car for deserted highways and long-distance routes. It’s even got a quieter exhaust and double-pane windows. But it’s still a Ferrari. The V12 delivers.

Nonetheless, effortless city driving is easy. Its all-wheel-drive system secures the car through the first four gears – then from fifth to top you’re back in a rear-wheeler. Again, the cockpit focus is on the steering wheel with all the controls you’re going to need a finger-tip away – including the manettino performance-mode dial, and everywhere you look is a vision of stitched leather. In essence, the GTC4Lusso is a lesson in civility – delivered Ferrari-style.

NOTES: Innovation, versatility, performance, sportiness and elegance have all been given an entirely new meaning thanks to the way they merge seamlessly in the GTC4Lusso. Powerful yet sophisticated, sporty yet luxurious, Ferrari’s new 12-cylinder really does make every journey a radically different experience Whether being driven solo or with all four seats occupied, the latest addition to the Ferrari range puts people at the centre of a whole new world.

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