The yellow Ferrari Italia twists out of a steep curve and rockets down the ribbon of blacktop. The tires smoke. The V-8 howls. Somewhere on the long straightaway, the needle on the speedometre touches 150 miles an hour. The test driver downshifts and hurtles into a hairpin turn. So this is what Ferraristi mean by "sex on wheels."
Here, outside the north central Italian town of Maranello, yellow, blue and blood-red Ferraris race through 14 curves on the company's 1.9-mile-long track known as the Fiorano circuit.
It is a place of sonorous engines and sinuous curves, where engineers don't just tune up engines - they tune them, like pianos, to produce that libidinous vroom. It is a place where the price of admission is at least 180,000 euros ($2,50,000) and can zoom toward a million with custom colours, hand-stitched calfskin seats and dashboards upholstered with manta ray hide.
And where Ferrari executives are now looking to get a bit practical - or at least what passes for practical here in this rarefied world.
So, brace yourself: Ferrari is making a hatchback. Mind you, this is no ordinary hatchback. With a cobra-like front end and a 660-horsepower engine, it starts at 260,000 euros ($3,70,000).
Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the company's chairman, says the car, an all-wheel drive known as the FF, is intended for the man who craves a Ferrari but finds himself hauling a baby seat and sports equipment on the weekends.
"Ferrari used to be the car that you kept in your garage, took out to polish and show, and put back into the garage," Montezemolo, 63, said. "Today, people want to do more with a car."