Ferrari is stepping up development of its eagerly anticipated SUV, which will push the brand in an entirely new direction for comfort, interior design, space and powertrain technology.
Due in 2022, it is being developed under the codename Purosangue (which translates to ‘thoroughbred’). The upcoming model is also known internally as ‘175’. The term 'Purosangue' was also traditionally used to describe the bodystyles of Ferrari’s big V12 front-engined GTs. Ferrari promises their SUV to be like no other performance or ultra-luxury SUV on the market thanks to its positioning, which is unique from its current expected rivals – the Aston Martin DBX, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
“I’m convinced on this car and the technical concept,” Ferrari’s chief technical officer, Michael Leiters, revealed in an exclusive interview. “I think we’ve found a concept and a package which is a real SUV on one side and will convince SUV customers to buy it, but on the other side there’s a huge differentiation of concept to existing SUVs.”
That concept is based around Ferrari’s ability to mix a bespoke architecture – as opposed to one shared across a wider group, such as the Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7-derived MLB platform used by the Bentayga and Urus – that not only gives the car Ferrari levels of performance and dynamic ability but also the space, comfort and user-friendly cabin required of an SUV.
“The challenge is to open a new segment for Ferrari,” said Leiters. “We always have very, very sharp positioning. It helps to develop cars in a certain, focused manner and easily decide certain trade-offs.
“The trade-off decision is totally different for us here. We will have totally new engineering challenges.”
Ferrari remains tight-lipped on the Purosangue’s specifics but is happy to discuss the theory and challenges behind pushing the brand in its most radical direction yet, in its illustrious 72-year history.
It is known that the Purosangue’s design has been signed off and the car will employ Ferrari’s scalable front-mid-engined architecture that will underpin some of its upcoming models. Leiters also detailed some of the engineering challenges being faced while Ferrari develops its first SUV.
“With space, how can we ensure that there is the right easy, ergonomic comfort on board? How to combine the sporty layout with a more comfort-orientated design? What to do with HMI [human machine interface]? Our HMI is driver-orientated, but how can it be more democratic? What are the comfort features? What is a Ferrari’s pure DNA on a car for comfort?
“It’s a challenge, an opportunity and fun. I like it very much. Some concepts are close together, but with cars like 175 one thing we want to do is structure the product range and have something different.”
Head of design Flavio Manzoni said the designers had been working with engineering right from the start to ensure optimum proportions for what is set to be a controversial model for the brand.
“You start defining the design of the car in the first steps,” he said. “In that defining phase we work with the engineers. We can determine the proportions and the dimensions to have a very good base to work from. That’s the case for the SUV as well. Many SUVs are derivatives of other cars. Designers have many constraints due to the technical base. In our case, it’s no compromise.
“If we don’t start together with engineers, defining together with the package, it’s a problem. I praise a lot of the collaborations when we start a new project.”
The Ferrari 15: flexible, bespoke architecture
The Purosangue SUV is one of 15 new Ferraris announced by the brand last year which are set to launch by 2023. These cars will be built off two highly flexible bespoke architectures, giving two distinct model lines – one for mid-engined supercars, such as the imminent F8 Tributo; and the other for front-mid-engined GT-style cars, including the new SUV.
The Purosangue name will also be used to describe the family of new GT models Ferrari plans to launch over the next four years, with a claimed push towards versatility and comfort. Among them will be a replacement for the GTC4 Lusso, whose own future doesn’t depend on the launch of the SUV.
All the Ferrari GT models, including the SUV, will get a completely new interior layout based around what it calls an ‘eyes on the road, hands on the street’ approach. Among the features will be a new steering wheel design, new infotainment, a head-up display, new instruments, new ways of operating the cabin controls, rear-seat entertainment and improved ingress and egress.
Both of Ferrari's new architectures are able to accommodate V6, V8 and V12 engines with or without hybrid assistance and with a transaxle dual-clutch automatic gearbox. They also allow for rear or all-wheel drive; not to mention a variety of cabin layouts (two, two-plus-two or four-seat) from variable wheelbase lengths, bodystyles (like coupé, Spider or Purosangue) and ground clearances.
From these wide-ranging parameters, the Purosangue SUV will be a four-seater with a length of around 5m. It will likely get height-adjustable suspension and an anti-roll system to maintain performance both on- and off-road. As pressure grows to cut emissions, plug-in hybrid technology is also set to feature with a powertrain derived from the new SF90 Stradale – a 4.0-litre V8 with three electric motors, one at the rear between the engine and gearbox and two at the front to give all-wheel drive.
Leiters said the two new architectures provided much greater flexibility between future Ferrari models.
“We’ve not said there definitely will be V6s or V12s but we have foreseen it,” he said. “My job is to give the company an opportunity for models. Then they tell us what they need from a market POV.
“In the function of different customer requirements, do we need space? Six or eight cylinders? A long wheelbase? So we can offer V6, V8, V12, front or mid-engined, hybrid or not, two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, 2+0, 2+2 or four seats; vary the wheelbase a lot. We’re able to manage very easily and have a very low impact doing it.”
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