Driving Mr. Deakin
Wanna ride with me? I’m taking a Ferrari,” my friend Marc Soong asked as we were planning how to get to a mutual friend’s wedding in Batangas. “How is that even a question?” I snapped back before he could even let the last vowel roll off his tongue. He tried to explain, but I was already putting on my coat and sending him a Waze location. That was my first mistake.
I learnt a lot about context after that phone call. I learnt that without it, two identical sentences can have two profoundly different meanings. For example, hearing the words “Jesus loves you” can be very comforting and fulfilling when uttered in a church. But it can mean something entirely different when whispered in your ear in the showers of a Mexican prison. Get what I’m saying?
So, lesson number one: context. Because, had I just listened, I would have known he was going up with his wife Loralie and his father Wellington. Which meant I would be riding in the back seat. All. The. Way. To. Batangas. But no. I heard Ferrari, Batangas, Cavitex, smooth winding roads. Everyone wants to be James. Funny how we only really hear what we want to, huh? Blame it on social media.
But reality started to bite when I saw him pull up. I saw shadows. Figures. Human-like figures. One was quite large and seemed to be occupying the front seat. It was Wellington Soong. Smiling, as he does at everyone. Now don’t get me wrong, I love seeing Wellington Soong. But just not in my seat. I was confused. “Where is he going to ride?” I thought to myself, as the smile faded from my face. At first, I thought I was being punked. Marc knows I’m 6’1” and I would be in a suit. Yet he didn’t flinch when he pulled the backrest forward and motioned toward this space behind the driver’s seat that, in my mind at least, was no bigger than a Tupperware—which is quite appropriate because I was already starting to feel like leftovers.
“C’mon, bro. We go back a long way. Don’t let our friendship end like this,” I pleaded. “It’s gotta be three hours to Nasugbu at this time of day. And I don’t want to arrive at the wedding rolled up like a piece of sushi.” I continued, drawing on whatever equity I had in our relationship. Marc laughed and just kept motioning. “Just hurry up!” he said. “It’s almost 2pm.” As we were running late, I just crawled in and thought I’d use the time in the back to plot my revenge. Something special. Like, say, an article about this ordeal in the country’s most prestigious magazine. Yeah, that’ll even it up.
But as the trip progressed, I was finding it harder and harder to describe the anguish. I tried. I even sat at obscure angles to create a more uncomfortable effect. But nothing. Sure it wasn’t like sitting in the back of a Quattroporte, but it wasn’t bad at all. I may even go as far as saying, comfortable. And strange as it sounds that was starting to bother me. Because as much as I didn’t want to be uncomfortable for three hours, a part of me was committed to it already, purely through conditioning. In a way, there was disappointment—if that makes any sense at all.
It’s the stereotype effect. Kind of like the dumb blonde cliché: you have all your jokes lined up but then she turns out to be smarter than you. That, in a nutshell, is the brilliance of the new Ferrari Lusso GTC4—it’s a stereotype breaker. It is everything you thought it wasn’t. Sure, its rear end may be an acquired taste, but once you make peace with that, there’s not a road out there as long and curved as the smile this generates.
Even though I didn’t get a chance to drive it, I found myself genuinely and pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. And I was desperately trying to put my finger on why. What exactly is it about the Lusso that, after 20 years of driving almost every super car out there, is impressing me? Speed? No.
We didn’t get that opportunity. Sound? Yes, but with respect, there are other brands out there with an equal or even better vocal range. Ergo no. Handling? Once again, impressive, but nothing off the charts. At least in this price bracket. So, what was it?
It took me a while to figure it out. I mulled it over and over in my head, but it felt sacrilegious even when whispered to myself. I kept burying it, waiting for another word to take its place. But it kept coming up. Until I had to accept it. Now, I don’t normally use provocative words in my articles, but if you will excuse my language this once, I think the word I was looking for was: practical.
There, I’ve said it. A practical Ferrari. Yes, I know, during Enzo’s time, someone would be swimming with the fishes just for suggesting it. But here we are in 2019, the world has changed, and everything comes down to context. Let’s face it: individually, those two words don’t really stir up any emotions, just like “hot” and “Math Teacher” but when put together “Hot Math Teacher” it enters a whole different realm. It shatters our expectations.
That is exactly what makes the Lusso so special. You do not expect it. Because while there are many practical cars out there, and there are many Ferraris, there’s really only one practical Ferrari. Yes, I know, I know, they have had the FF and other 2+2s—but after three hours in the back seat of the Lusso, I can safely say that it is the only one that manages to deliver the complete, unadulterated Ferrari experience for four. Or as I like to say, Fourplay.