Nominally, the ideal Ferrari for a cross-country trip would be one of its grand tourers. In practice, any Ferrari will do. When it comes to the drive itself, any and all from the Maranello stable will excel. This is especially true of organised drives such as the Ferrari Tour Malaysia, by Naza Italia, Malaysia’s official Ferrari importer. At the start of 2022, it is one of a series of similar events that are taking place in several countries throughout the region. Were it not for the pandemic, it may instead have been organised as a single, grand, multi-national event.
It leaves the Ferrari Tour Malaysia contingent as a more personally involving affair. Seven drivers, with their cars and plus-ones took part, drawn from Naza Italia’s clientele; with crew and media, the total number of cavallino rampante on the road came up to 11. The support crew which includes a luggage van leaves participants free to enjoy the road without worry.
The resulting convoy was an eclectic mix, reflecting the broad range of personalities drawn to the Prancing Horse. There was an 812 Superfast in the unusual but surprisingly well-suited colour of racing green, a 488 with a body kit, and a Roma with a broad yellow stripe down its length. A classic 360, with its naturally aspirated V8 seeming to roar a little louder than its modern counterparts, added a note of vintage appeal.
The Ferrari Tour Malaysia destination was Penang but first: a pit stop near Ulu Bernam and an excuse to warm up on the kampung roads that wind their way through picturesque, hilly plantations. After that, it is more or less a straight line – with a tea stop in Ipoh – all the way to Penang while savouring the Ferrari engine. While the V12s get all the glory, Ferrari’s V8s are deservingly popular and award-winning. It is whatever you want it to be – it hums along quietly at the highest gear but sings to life with a quick click-clack of the paddle shifters. It seems happy no matter the revs. And, of course, when it comes time to overtake – well, even the relatively modest Portofino M of the current Ferrari line-up packs over 600bhp. On paper, it does 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds; in practice, on the highway, it does essentially whatever it needs to.
Arriving in Georgetown, a city of narrow roads, traffic lights and surprise lane merges, the flared Ferrari hips threaten to make for a harrowing time. But a convoy of Ferraris, even one crawling through traffic, is enough of a sight that passers-by are willing to give way.
The night’s stay it steeped in history, in the historical building of The Edison George Town. Dinner took place across the street, at The Edison’s turn-of-the-century colonial contemporary, the Blue Mansion with a distinctively Italian-theme to the delicious menu.
After stretching the legs amongst the highland greenery of The Habitat on Penang Hill, the following afternoon sees the convoy on the hilly chicanes to Batu Ferringhi. Here, it is less about speed and more about chassis response, revelling in second and third gear, and the choice between them. The landscape opens up on approach to the Teluk Bahang Dam, the reservoir’s waters making for a prime photo spot. The trip convenes at the Lone Pine Hotel, itself a Penang landmark, and an evening of seaside relaxation that concludes with cocktails and a gala dinner.
The final day of the Ferrari Tour Malaysia will see one more lunch stop in Ipoh, in the cool underground of Jeff’s Cellar at The Banajaran Hotsprings Retreat. Otherwise, it is time to unwind and contemplate the future of the Ferrari engine. The marque’s own SF90 Stradale is already laying the groundwork for hybrid powertrains with fewer cylinders – and beyond that, who knows? Drives like these are an ode to the addictive, exhilarating nature of petrol, but it may not be long before those V8s give way to V6 hybrids, and the V12 to nothing at all.