Ferrari Purosangue New Zealand Grand Tour: Tour de Prance

David Khoo

We join the Purosangue fleet as it courses overland from the North Island to the South Island on the 3000km Ferrari New Zealand Grand Tour.


When you’re flying the flag of the Prancing Horse, the world really is your oyster, especially if it’s Ferrari’s high-bodied, V12-engined, four-wheel-drive, four-door, four-seater Purosangue we’re talking about. Phew!

Mind you, this isn’t the brand’s first ‘practical’ model.

If you recall, there have been the 456, 612 and then more recently the FF and GTC4Lusso, all V12-engined four-seaters (yes, notwithstanding the V8-engined GTC4Lusso T).

However, the Purosangue is Ferrari’s first high-riding (the brand eschews the ‘SUV’ label) four-door GT model.

This checks a lot of boxes for its clientele in search of something more functional than the typical Ferrari sportscar.

After all, the Purosangue can go everywhere, has a top-tier nat-asp V12 engine under its bonnet and most importantly, is familiarly Ferrari.

Players in this rarefied segment never have a single car, with at least one or two cars in Sir’s (or Ma’am’s) multi-car garage typically taking the form factor of either crossover or SUV / MPV.

Instead of having its buyers gravitate towards one of the other brands, Ferrari has wisely decided to create its own grand touring contender in the high-flying high-riding segment.

The brand has pranced onto the same high-bodied band-wagon as Aston Martin, Lotus, Lamborghini, Bentley and even Rolls-Royce have already done.

As far as we’re concerned though, the V12-engined Purosangue sits on the same lofty pedestal as the V12-engined Cullinan in terms of positioning, price and panache.

The rest dabble in the ~S$1/1+m price-point, but the Cullinan and Purosangue play in the ~S$2m big league, with built-to-order cars seeing wait-times stretch to at least a year.

Truth be told, we see the Cullinan and the Purosangue as the perfect high-bodied bookends to a super-scale garage.

The Rolls-Royce is the embodiment of waftable luxury, while at the other end of the spectrum, the Ferrari is the definitive ballistic grand touring performer. Most compellingly, neither of them are derived from other models.

Naturally, the Purosangue is performance-packed with all the dynamic and luxurious qualities familiar to fans of the brand.

All this goes a long way towards explaining its name – ‘pure blood’ or ‘thoroughbred’ in English, as in it’s a thoroughbred Ferrari.

We’ve been injected into the fifth and final wave of Ferrari’s New Zealand Grand Tour (after all, the Purosangue is arguably the ultimate grand tourer!), which has seen the fleet of five Italian-registered left-hand-drive Purosangues course its way from the North Island start point in Auckland to the South Island.

Our wave is tasked to take the fleet the final 750km round-trip from just outside Queenstown to Milford Sound, and then back again (There and Back Again, geddit??) to the end-point at The Rees Hotel in Queenstown – some 3,000km later from the start point in Auckland. 

There’s a rich tradition to Ferrari’s Grand Tours, which can be traced back almost three decades and sees the Prancing Horse sportscars exploring the most spectacular driving roads, as well as the sights and sounds of different locales around the world.

With the Purosangue, it’s as much about the rough and rigours of the overland journey as it is the destination.

For us, this not only threw the spotlight on the most glorious sights that New Zealand’s South Island has to offer, but demonstrated the stupendous ability of Ferrari’s latest hypebeast.

IRL, the Purosangue looks nothing like any other marque’s model, although the many memes floating around try to suggest otherwise.

Its hulking presence and powerful haunches are tempered by elegant aerodynamic aesthetics, but like every Ferrari, there’s a recognisable air that distinguishes it as such.

From the Queenstown airport, we’re transported to the idyllic Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa for the night. The Lodge features standalone villas that border its historic Pinot Noir vineyard, as well as affords a splendid view of the Crown Range.

The Lodge sits a stone’s throw (or a short rental bike ride) away from the Kawarau River, which you can further explore at leisure by following the Gibbston Bike Trail.

The morning’s sound of silence is broken by the rumble of the Purosangue fleet arriving, which comprises a vibrant mix of blues and reds.

This proves a great complement to the picturesque landscape my co-driver and I will be passing over the next few days as we head towards Fiordland and then Milford Sound, a dramatic and remote fjord in the south-west of the South Island.

Departing the Fiordland Lodge Te Anau

The 473-litre boot capacity easily gobbles up our baggage, while the independently-adjustable full-sized rear seats means there’s no compromise for +2 adult accommodation.

The rear ‘welcome doors’ operate with deliberate decorum to facilitate easy ingress / egress, with the one-touch open / close function for the rear ‘suicide doors’ quickly becoming second nature after a few quick trips.

We’re en route to the family-owned Fiordland Lodge Te Anau, which sits at the gateway to the Fiordland National Park, and we’re to spend a night there before the last day’s long and winding drive to Milford Sound.

The route takes us through epic, expansive landscape and lush wilds, and it’s easy to understand why big Hollywood productions (like the Lord of the Rings franchise) have been shot there.

There’s a sublime balance to the Purosangue, which we reckon can be attributed to its front, mid-engined transaxle setup, with the V12 positioned just before the front axle and the gearbox mounted behind.

Furthermore, the Power Transfer Unit for the 4×4 system is mounted in the front, which creates an optimum 49% / 51% weight distribution to achieve the fab agility and balance we were talking about.

Its rivals may use their crossovers for conquest sales, but Ferrari does the exact opposite with the Purosangue, because not everyone can get hold of one – yes, even if you have the ready cash. It is intended to be allocated as a ‘reward’ to its loyalist-owners… although you’ll still have to stump up the S$2+m for it!

This also means the Purosangue inherits the best bits from the current crop of Ferrari’s sportscars: cylinder heads and independent 4WS system from the 812 Competizione, electronic dynamic aids from the 296 GTB / GTS and the SF90 Stradale’s control logic for its 4RM-S all-wheel drivetrain.

Driven along the sinuous, slippery roads, the Purosangue proves rowdy and raw in true Ferrari fashion, yet is refined in equal measure, which is an interesting dichotomy of emotions to deal with when you’re working the needle to the scintillating V12’s stratospheric redline.

The Purosangue is a tight, agile handler, with a keen steering feel that lends itself well to an incisive feel and mind-boggling direction changes – a big surprise given its proportions. Best of all, you don’t wince or think twice at tackling less than pristine road surfaces, especially the rocky and rutted portions on smaller roads.

Its active suspension works with Multimatic’s True Active Spool Valve (TASV) System, which integrates electronic actuation with a high-precision spool valve hydraulic damper for lightning quick responses to road and driving variables

Mind you, the Purosangue doesn’t pretend to be a mud-ploughing rough-roader, but instead, is conceived to offer real-world utility, as well as versatile and visceral performance on winding roads and highways.

In full flight, the Purosangue’s nat-asp 6.5-litre V12 belts out a strident soundtrack in keeping with its 725hp and 716Nm. With a 3.3secs 0-100km/h sprint time and top speed in excess of 310km/h, it is no slouch, but it is how this is delivered that differentiates the grand tourer from the sportscars.

Up to 80 per cent of its maximum torque is available from a relatively low 2100rpm, with the ratios of the 8spd dual-clutch transmission calibrated to be progressive (as opposed to peaky).

However, the Purosangue is more than capable of delivering acceleration of the locomotive variety when you put your foot down for true continent crushing performance.

The Purosangue’s cabin is akin to that of a sporty lounge – not too raw, not too regal, but comfortable, cosseting and contemporary.

The cockpit aesthetics are tautly cohesive, while the seats provide great support, regardless of whether the going is fast, slow or sideways!

It gets the haptic controls that made their debut on the SF90 (and now features on the other modern Ferraris), while the passenger display provides even more functions than before to immerse the front passenger into the grand touring vibe.

As we arrive at Milford Sound, the ‘pure blood’ term really comes into its own, because we’re immediately set upon by the Te Namu (or little devils) – swarming Black Sandflies that attempt to partake of our pure blood!

Unfortunately, we don’t prove as fleet footed as the 725hp Purosangue and are served up as blood sacrifice… and yes our blood proves as red as the Rosso Portofino of our test car! 

Happily, we manage to find solace on the slow boat cruise around Milford Sound, which allows us a breather to take in the enchanted, mist-shrouded landscape and the furious cacophony of waterfalls-upon-waterfalls… before we take to the roads again in our own dramatic fury of storming blues and reds on the journey back into the heart of Queenstown.

PHOTOS Ferrari


Aston Martin DBX bentley bentayga Ferrari ferrari purosangue lamborghini urus purosangue rolls-royce cullinan

About the Author

David Khoo

From PR to product planning and content creation, David is a big petrolhead who has been dabbling in the car trade since 2001. His stories often take an eclectic slant from the predictable and he's able to craft a compelling read that lets you see the cars (often old!) in a new light.

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