“First they came for the Porsche, and I did not speak out because I don’t like Porsche; then they came for the Lamborghini, and I did not speak out because I don’t like Lamborghini; then they came for Ferrari, and there was no one left to speak for me.” That paraphrase (most likely in semi-poor taste) is how some Ferrari fans felt after the reveal of the Ferrari Purosangue, an all-new SUV in development at the legendary Italian car manufacturer. For years, public perception was that those inside Ferrari were dead-set against making an SUV, and yet now the worm has seemingly turned.
This is not entirely shocking or unexpected; word coming out of Ferrari on the subject of an SUV has softened over the last decade. But why would a manufacturer known so well for making exotic, high-performance vehicles that only a small percentage of the population could dream of affording make an SUV? And will this new Ferrari Purosangue mark a transition toward a more consumer-friendly strategy for the legendary company? I wouldn’t bet on it…
Where We Were in 2015
Before we get into what’s going on with the Ferrari Purosangue, I’d like to take a moment first and travel back in time to the heady days of 2015. Remember 2015? The fervor of the Presidential election was everywhere, strangers could hug each other if they wanted to, and the domestication of the dog was still well underway.
Also, in 2015, Ferrari was making some clear statements about the idea of an SUV coming to their showrooms. And the sentiment was that a Ferrari SUV wasn’t going to happen. The head of design at the time, Flavio Manzoni, even said of the company founder, “Enzo Ferrari would turn in his grave” if they were to ever build an SUV. When asked if they had even considered it and made some design mockups, he replied, “Never.” Manzoni added, “It’s not within our DNA and it’s not something we are ever going to look at.”
For a bit of context, keep in mind that 15 years prior to this, the idea of any of the major performance sports car companies producing an SUV was absurd. Then the Porsche Cayenne went on sale for 2003, and everything seemed a bit upside down. Had the Cayenne been a massive commercial failure, as a lot of people expected, then this would’ve proven that SUVs had no place coming from these brands.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Porsche Cayenne was quite popular. In fact, over the last two decades, it has been one of Porsche’s most popular vehicles. While something like the 911 might be more iconic, its sales pale in comparison to their SUV models. For example, in 2019, Porsche sold just over 9,000 of its flagship rear-engine sports car here in America, but Cayenne sales numbered over 19,000. In 2020, even with the pandemic, Porsche delivered more than 18,000 Cayennes, while 911 sales stood at around 8,800.
Changes for 2017
Despite these kinds of sales numbers from Porsche’s luxury SUVs, Ferrari remained adamant for years that it would never jump on the trend to make an SUV. It’s worth noting, however, that Ferrari was a privately traded company up to this point. In 2015, Ferrari went public and had its IPO, which meant they now had a much broader group of investors and shareholders that they had to answer to.
In early 2017, the stance from then-CEO of Ferrari Sergio Marchionne still seemed to be that they had no interest in producing an SUV. And yet, by October of 2017, his tune changed a bit, and it was no longer that they would never make such a vehicle. At that point, they were talking about seriously considering making such a vehicle but referring to such a potential model as a Ferrari Utility Vehicle (FUV) instead, but it’s a real “potato” “potato” situation (that phrase doesn’t work very well in print, but you get the idea).
What could’ve prompted such a change in attitude and for the CEO to make a statement indicating that Ferrari might have started working on an SUV? I can’t say for sure. Though it’s probably worth noting that his comments in October of 2017 were said while he was visiting the New York Stock Exchange – again, Ferrari was a publicly-traded company at this point.
Where We Are Today
Now that we’ve followed some historical ups and downs when it comes to the idea of a Ferrari SUV, where does that bring us today? As I said, Porsche released the Cayenne nearly 20 years ago, and it has become their top-selling model. Lamborghini also did the unthinkable and released their SUV, the Urus, for 2018. While the Urus is certainly stylish and has an impressive engine, it’s still an SUV and not exactly on the same level as the Countach that graced the posters of so many teenage bedrooms and dorm rooms. That being said, the Urus was Lamborghini’s top-selling vehicle last year.
It is into this auto market that Ferrari has revealed they too will be releasing an SUV model in the not-too-distant future, probably next year. Less than a decade ago, the official stance was that it was impossible and would cause their founder to roll over in his grave. But the sales numbers speak for themselves, and Ferrari has investors to answer to. All of this means that next year we’re going to see the Ferrari Purosangue and everything it has to offer.
The Ferrari Purosangue: What Do We Know?
What, exactly, does it have to offer? No one knows – at least, no one outside of Ferrari knows. All we have to go off of at the moment are a handful of spy photos (most of which reveal pretty much nothing about its interior or exterior) and a name. That hasn’t stopped a legion of auto blogs and online publications from speculating wildly about what it will have to offer, but every prediction is based on guessing or, at best, some comparisons to similar models.
At the end of the day, however, it’s an SUV from Ferrari, so it’s not going to be running on an I-4 or have a vinyl interior. It’s a safe bet that its engine will be quite impressive, so the sites guessing that we’ll either see a V8 or an impressive V12 engine – possibly the former with the latter as an available option – aren’t just making things up. However, there is also the possibility that we could see a hybrid engine of some kind to boost performance even further.
The interior will likely be a thing of beauty, designed to surround and drape the driver in refinement, luxury, and style. Ferrari interiors aren’t always the most advanced in terms of consumer tech, however, so this will be interesting. Where some of their models have only a digital driver cluster, it’s likely that the Purosangue will be more in line with other high-end SUVs and offer great entertainment features. Now here I go speculating just like everyone else.
Why is Ferrari Making an SUV?
That’s the billion-dollar question, but I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Billion-dollar because that’s exactly the answer – they’re making an SUV because that’s what’s dominating the market these days. Lamborghini delivered more than 4,300 Urus (Uruses? Urii?) last year, a vehicle that starts at about $220,000. If all of those models sold were the baseline version, that’s almost a billion dollars just from Urus sales – and we all know those weren’t all starting models that were delivered. So if you’re a high-performance car fan clutching your pearls over the brash vulgarity of Ferrari making an SUV, just remember that it’s all about the bottom line.