Pietro Virgolin, senior product manager for Ferrari’s new GTC4Lusso freely admits that its predecessor, the FF, was a polarizing design. “People either loved it or hated it,” he says with a candor seldom seem from corporate spokespeople.

Those enamored with the hatchback Ferrari praised a design that evoked memories of “shooting brakes” past, notably the 1992 Aston Martin Virage, the Jensen GT and, perhaps the most comely example, Volvo’s famous ‘70s 1800 ES. Detractors saw the unfortunate mating of BMW M Coupe and a Dachshund. Whatever side of the fence you were on, the polarization was no less fractious than the squabbles consuming our politics.

Reputation rehabilitated

For those worrying such polemics are all-consuming, it will be good news, then, that denigration of the FF has since moderated. Now renamed GTC (literally Gran Turismo Coupe) the most distinctive Ferrari of our time has benefitted on two fronts. Firstly, as with any radical change like BMW’s Bangle-butt revolution of the 7 Series, time has moderated our reaction to its distinctive shape. That which was controversial in 2012 is now, if not mainstream, at least acceptable; sufficiently so, in fact, that Porsche is now offering the similarly-silhouetted Panamera Sport Turismo. More importantly, its newly sloping rear roofline is simply more comely than the original which had traditional Ferrari front curves and a squarish rear.

Less horsepower, more torque

It also helps that the GTC4Lusso T is staking out a distinctive spot within Ferrari’s lineup. Virgolin notes that this latest variant lies in the very epicenter of the intersection between sportiness and practicality. So, for instance, the T eschews the iconic 6.3-litre V12 that powers the FF and the GTC4Lusso for a 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 shared with Ferrari’s 488. In losing the greater horsepower of the V12 (680 hp versus 601 hp), the twin-turbo V8 gains a wealth of torque, outmuscling the V12 with 561 lb-ft versus 514. And it has a great deal of civility. The grunty V8 mated to Ferrari’s seven-speed automated manual is less intimidating to drive than the V12.

Indeed, if there’s a theme to this latest GTC, it is of an expanded driving envelope. For instance, the steering is typically Ferrari light, yet, thanks to the third-generation of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control and a revised rendition of Ferrari’s 4-wheel steering, it suffers from none of the twitchiness that plagued the F12berlinetta. Indeed, while the first impression of the GTC4Lusso T is of a car that drives smaller than its outer dimensions, it’s also impressive that it remains so stable despite dumping the novel all-wheel-drive system of the FF and V12-powered GTC4Lusso.

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Roomy cabin

Interior spaciousness is another boon. What’s, of course, obvious is that the GTC is a four-seater. It’s only after sitting in the rear seats, however, that you become aware of how surprisingly roomy it is. Yes, it’s a pain to get past the front seats, but once ensconced, a long ride is not unimaginable and the headroom downright generous. That said, you won't be bringing a whole bunch of luggage along with you, the Lusso’s trunk more Mazda Miata-like than Country Squire.

As, for the interior accouterments, the T is very much current Ferrari, albeit with a few twists. There’s a cockpit feel to the dash in front of the driver, a sense duplicated for the passenger. There is a 10.25 inch touch screen available to the driver, but, in a truly novel twist, there’s a (much smaller) version near the passenger that contains radio controls, the navi screen and even the tachometer/warning gauges. Indeed, passengers can input a destination in their small screen that then transfers to the main navigation system.

Such novelties are just part of the reason that Virgolin’s contention of the GTC4Lusso T is Ferrari’s ultimate distillation of practicality and passion. Yes, the turbo V8 is not as sonorous as the V12 and there are those in the northeast likely to find the new rear-driver not s practical as the AWD GTC4Lusso. But, as a car that you really can drive every day, the T is the ‘easy’ Ferrari. The fact that its $256,000 MSRP undercuts the V12-powered GTC4Lusso’s by some $40,000 just makes the package that much more appealing.

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