The list of major movies filmed in New Zealand reads like the greatest hits of blockbuster cinema: Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Hobbit, even Mission Impossible.

Perhaps that’s why Ferrari chose this breathtaking backdrop for the drive of the Purosangue; it needed to be suitably epic.

Not that the company’s latest launch really needs a supporting cast of snow-capped mountains and awe-inspiring views. Considering the Purosangue is for all intents and purposes an SUV – and we’ll come back to that later – Maranello’s first family car is as svelte as any other multi-functional vehicle with enough luggage space for a chest of drawers.

The £313,000 Purosangue may sit further off the ground than any previous Ferrari but chief designer, Flavio Manzoni, has cleverly found the sweet spot – an elegant compromise between low-level supercar and high-rise SUV.

Unlike some big money, blinged up SUVs, such as the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Mercedes G-Class, the V12-loaded Purosangue screams superstar status at every location.

Ferrari has a long history of epic driving tours to announce new models but this trip to New Zealand is the first of its kind in more than 15 years. The only unanswered question during a three-day trek around the South Island is just why the company deemed it necessary to travel 11,000 miles to prove the Purosangue’s abilities.

Especially so when you consider the Italians have a perfectly good set of mountains just up the road from Maranello – they’re called The Alps.

Still, nobody on this trip is complaining. Ferrari’s super-SUV weighs in at 2.2 tonnes but has an impressive supporting cast under the bonnet. Forget electric motors and hybrid systems, the naturally aspirated V12 is proper old school.

A whopping 6.5-litre engine is Mated to an eight-speed transmission. The V12 returns 715bhp and 528lb ft of deliciously raucous torque, so your kids will never be late for lessons again because of delays on the school run.

The Purosangue races from 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds and keeps on going beyond 193mph. How far exactly, I can’t say. Emissions of 393g/km and 16.3mpg are hardly in line with New Zealand’s clean-air image, but either trip organisers at Maranello didn’t get the memo or simply didn’t care. I doubt many buyers will be bothered either.

Ferrari Purosangue
Ferrari Purosangue

With four doors and enough space for four passengers, the Purosangue gives the brand access to a whole new market of family owners for the first time. It will likely do for Ferrari sales what the Urus did for Lamborghini and the DBX has done for Aston Martin.

Except in this instance, the Purosangue does look less like a conventional SUV and more like a traditional Berlinetta. That’s why the company is insistent that despite a pair of proper rear seats and the spacious boot, the extra ground clearance and the chunky carbon wheel arch surrounds, theirs is actually a dynamic coupe and not an SUV at all. We’ll let you be the judge.

On the impossibly twisty road to Milford Sound – New Zealand’s must-see fjord awash with cascading waterfalls and boat-bound tourists – a four-wheel drive system designed more for cornering than off-roading ability provides the grip (a 30mm lift system actually costs extra which seems a bit cheeky considering the price).

The Purosangue is no small unit but body control, handling and ride comfort are beyond comparison for an SUV. Er, not that it is one, you understand.

Much of that is down to a highly technical active suspension system that utilises two spool valves to rebound and compress the suspension on each wheel when required. True Active Spool Valve (TASV) talks to the Purosangue’s computer brain and, supported by a 48-volt electric unit, ensures each is sprung to perfection whatever the road conditions.

Hurl it around any corner and the Purosangue feels sure-footed and precise. Flick through the gears on the paddle shift and that glorious dry-sump V12 provides a stirring, if rather muted soundtrack by Ferrari standards, gobbling its way through 100-litres of Super Unleaded.

Stepping inside the most spacious Ferrari ever is easy whatever the size of your girth. Much of that is thanks to electric ‘suicide doors’, a term you won’t find in the Purosangue brochure but an unfortunate moniker once given to rear-hinged, rear door designs. Back then, they could pop open at speed and drag anyone attempting to hang on out into the road.

I’m still not entirely sure why we need electrically operated doors on any car. There were a few slow-motion moments when I heard a dog bark in the distance and tumbleweed roll by, waiting patiently for them to open and close. At least the rear-hinged set-up is a showstopper.

It also offers unrivalled, barn-door access to the Purosangue’s plush interior. Even the front seat passenger gets their own infotainment screen, although much of the touchscreen technology is frustratingly over-complicated.

The front bucket seats are multi-adjustable, supportive and boast all the whistles and bells you would expect at this dizzy level. However, the two individual rear seats are not as comfortable as they should be, mostly owing to a lack of lateral support, which is arguably a significant oversight in a Ferrari of all cars.

Ferrari Purosangue

Rear head and leg room is more than ample, while the back seat uprights fold flat electronically to provide a genuinely impressive amount of luggage space.

Just watch out when sliding heavy suitcases in because the high position of the fixed, leather-covered centre rear armrest means it will get scuffed and damaged (it took three Ferrari people to gently massage my suitcases in).

Such issues will likely not bother anyone prepared to pay £350k for an individually specced Purosague. Ferrari announced last year that the car was already sold out until 2026, which also means the controversy about whether the brand should build an SUV in the first place falls flat.

Purosangue may not be as practical as the Urus or a DBX, but it does drive better than both, or any other SUV. Purists will hate it and there’s less glamour than any other car bearing the prancing horse badge too.

But while the price is bordering on the grotesque, the Purosangue does have the pace, character and feel of a true Ferrari.

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