Fast family cars: Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, Bentley Bentayga and Audi RS 6

Nothing brings you more happiness and contentment than your family, except perhaps, a fast car. And the two seldom live together happily. Here’s some help in getting around this quandary
By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor
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January 13, 2017
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Let’s face it, it’s in the very nature of humankind to be selfish. No matter how much the notion of selflessness is inculcated into your psyche during your formative years, that innate streak of egotism will remain right through your youth and well into, well, whenever it is that you decide to plunge headlong into the complex world of matrimony and parenthood.

Marriage and kids bring about a paradigm shift in the way you see things. From a life of instant gratification, self-centred purchases, and indulgent excesses, you are forced to accept a more mundane existence characterised by compromises, and a realisation that you cannot always have your way anymore. This is no more apparent than in the choice of cars. While the two-seater coupé or supercar can hang around for a few years after you take the nuptial pledge, it will need to be dumped in favour of a more practical set of wheels once kids come along.

Fortunately, things have changed drastically over the past decade that there are a number of cars on the market today that will let you have all the fun you want behind the wheel, while accommodating a family and all the associated paraphernalia. While these include affordable little hot-hatches to supercar-baiting sports saloons, they’ve become so common that they won’t appeal to those looking for exclusivity. So, if you happen to be a family man who is loaded and a little snooty, we have lined up three high-performance family movers that are sure to make you stand out from the rest.

The latest to have broken into the scene is the GTC4 Lusso, a four-seat, all-wheel drive Ferrari with a front-mounted naturally aspirated V12 engine. Apart from the bizarre name, to all intents and purposes, it’s a substantially facelifted FF, the original shooting brake that had grown a bit long in the tooth. But it’s a better-looking estate than the one it replaces. Adding to the enhanced design is a new, larger grille, redesigned headlights, new twin taillamps, more prominent rear fenders, a swoopier roofline, and new rear spoiler. It generally has a more rounded appearance than the FF, and is better aerodynamically. But despite the changes in styling, it’s dimensionally near identical to its predecessor, which means you get the same amount of passenger room inside. Although it has only two doors, the GTC4 Lusso has a longer wheelbase than four-door rivals like the Panamera and hence is as pragmatic, albeit a much more expensive, choice than the Porsche.

But any comparisons should stop right there, as this Ferrari is a different beast altogether. With a massive 6.3-litre V12 under its long bonnet, which screams all the way up to 8,250rpm and churns out 680bhp and 697Nm of torque, the GTC4 Lusso can hit 100kph from nought in just 3.4 seconds. But those figures don’t tell the full story of how exhilaratingly well this four-seater supercar delivers its thrills. Traction is phenomenal off the line, while acceleration is more of a linear swell than an instant jolt. The soundtrack doesn’t seem to be as dramatic as that of the FF’s, but is still gloriously louder and more theatrical than that of any family car out there. And at times when you don’t have the throttle pinned to the floor, it settles to a much muter note that doesn’t intrude into the cabin. The Lusso’s all-wheel drive system, along with rear-wheel steering, which is the same set-up seen in the F12tdf, affords it steady and confidence-inspiring handling dynamics. But if you approach the Lusso expecting it to display the same levels of agility and involvement as a 488 GTB or a 458 Italia, you’re bound to be disappointed. However, as four-seater cars go, there’s hardly any other that will excite you as much…

…Unless, what you have in mind is an ultra-luxurious, humongous, and physics-defyingly fast SUV. Yes, the Bentley Bentayga is all that and then some. If the Ferrari proclaims the arrival of its affluent owner with its unusual shooting brake looks and the V12 wail, the Bentayga does it with its sheer flamboyance. It’s anything but discreet, especially in the bright Kingfisher Blue finish our tester is wearing. The gleaming honeycomb grille and jewel-like headlights help make this large people mover hard to miss. Being a Bentley, the Bentayga offers its customers a vast selection of personalisation options, which include over 90 exterior shades, and 10 alloy wheel options to go with these. Things are no less special inside, with the cabin swathed in the plushest diamond-stitched leather, and polished veneer, with knurled and brushed metal controls and handles completing the aura of opulence. The front bucket seats are without doubt the most comfortable you’ll see in any SUV, padded so densely that you literally sink into those. And if you’re someone used to the impeccable levels of craftsmanship you’d see only in Bentleys, you won’t be disappointed.

One distinct advantage the Bentley has over the Ferrari is its all-terrain capabilities. And its 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 is no less of a powerhouse than the Ferrari’s. It pushes out 600 vicious horses and 900Nm of twist, which hurtles the gargantuan SUV to 100kph from standstill in an astoundingly quick 4.1 seconds, and all the way to a top speed of 301kph. While the dexterity it exhibits on twisty roads defies all logic, the Bentayga is also as stable and poised as a vehicle can be on highways at all speeds. If it’s a family car that can carry everything in the utmost comfort and refinement while also giving you all the fun you can have behind a wheel, then the Bentayga is without a match.

Well, the third car we have here is quite the opposite to the first two in that it’s an absolute sleeper. It is ideal for the family guy who doesn’t want to attract much attention but still wants to have a good time with his ride. Looks can deceive, and they can’t be more deceptive than the Audi RS 6’s. It looks like a regular estate, which, in our market, gives the owner the advantage of uniqueness. In fact, there’s no other car that shares the category with the RS 6, even in other markets. It’s literally in a league of its own, as there’s no estate version of the new Mercedes-AMG E 63 yet and Jaguar has stopped making its XFR-S Sportbrake. And under the garb of a dreary wagon hides a furious 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that makes 597bhp and a whopping 700Nm of torque. That’s more performance than a Range Rover SVR, with as much practicality and much less ostentation. In fact, the RS 6, in our tester’s Performance trim, is one of the most powerful cars in Ingolstadt’s current line-up.

Yes, it’s sort of a downgrade when compared to the previous version, which had a screaming 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V10 under its bonnet. But forget the displacement, this Audi packs quite an explosive punch, boasting 26 horses more than the V10, and 45 more than the ‘standard’ RS 6. The 0-100kph sprint is despatched in just 3.7 seconds. That’s staggeringly quick acceleration for a nondescript-looking wagon that weighs in at nearly two tonnes. This unassuming family car can give many a supercar a run for their millions.

Transferring all this power to the four corners is an eight-speed torque convertor gearbox. Thanks to Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system, along with a self-locking centre differential and a limited slip rear differential, grip is prodigious, even when pushed hard. The forward thrust doesn’t feel violent as the acceleration figures suggest, but is unmistakably quick and relentlessly forceful. But if you want to take it easy with precious cargo at the back, then the RS 6 transforms itself into a polished, genial luxury car. The cabin is characterised by the same flawless attention to detail, quality of materials and layout that we’ve come to expect from Audi, with firm, supportive seats and a near-perfect driving position. There’s plenty of room for four tall adults and a child who can occupy the middle seat at the back. With 565 litres of boot space, which expands to a generous 1,680 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped down, there’s enough room for all the cargo you’d want to take along. So, with its unmatched combination of incredible performance and pragmatism, the RS 6 Avant ticks all the right boxes as a rapid family car, and that too for far less money than the other two.

Choose any one of these three extraordinary cars and you’ll be able to strike that delicate balance between exhilarating performance and family-friendly practicality. Now go take a hit on your neck, spine and chest for the family every time you step on the loud pedal. And don’t forget to make a big deal of the noise pollution that you endure for them. Welcome to a whole new world of selfish selflessness.

Specs

Model:GTC4 Lusso

Engine:6.3-litre V12

Transmission:Seven-speed auto, AWD

Max power:680bhp @ 8,000rpm

Max torque:697Nm @ 5,750rpm

Top speed:335kph

0-100kph:3.4sec

Length:4,922mm

Width:1,980mm

Height:1,383mm

Wheelbase:2,990mm

Weight:1,920kg

On sale:Now

Highs:Refinement, practicality, pace and performance

Lows:Not as fun as other Ferraris

Specs

Model:Bentayga

Engine:6.0-litre W12 turbo

Transmission:Eight-speed auto, AWD

Max power:600bhp @ 5,000rpm

Max torque:900Nm @ 1,350rpm

Top speed:301kph

0-100kph:4.1sec

Length:5,141mm

Width:2,223mm

Height:1,742mm

Wheelbase:2,992mm

Weight:2,422kg

On sale:Now

Highs:Sheer speed, luxury, flawless craftsmanship inside

Lows:Polarising looks

Specs

Model:RS 6 Avant Performance

Engine:4.0-litre V8 turbo

Transmission:Eight-speed auto, AWD

Max power:597bhp @ 6,600rpm

Max torque:700Nm @ 1,750rpm

Top speed:250kph (305kph derestricted)

0-100kph:3.7sec

Length:4,979mm

Width:1,936mm

Height:1,461mm

Wheelbase:2,915mm

Weight:1,950kg

On sale:Now

Highs:Supercar-baiting performance, SUV-rivalling utility

Lows:Not the best-looking Audi