Ferrari 599 Review

Ferrari 599 Review

The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano is Ferrari's latest front-engine, rear-wheel-drive 12-cylinder exotic sports car. It gets its name from a combination of its engine displacement of 5,999cc, "Gran Turismo Berlinetta," which is Italian for "grand touring hardtop" and Ferrari's test track in Fiorano Modenese, Italy. The new-for-2011 GTO version of the 599 means "Gran Turismo Omologato" or "grand touring homologated." In useful vernacular, it means "hard-core, track-ready version of 599."

Much of the 599's chassis utilizes a light yet strong all-aluminum space frame construction. Extra effort went into the 599's weight optimization, with the car's mass being centralized for better handling responsiveness. Some design elements are similar to those of the now-discontinued 612 Scaglietti, but cues specific to the 599, such as rising haunches, flying-buttress roof pillars and an assortment of air intakes and extractors give the 599 its own unique look.

Current Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
Powered by a retuned version of the V12 engine found in the old F1-inspired Ferrari Enzo, the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano produces 612 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque. Ferrari claims the car can go from zero to 60 mph in less than 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of around 205 mph. The GTO, meanwhile, gets a 671-hp version of the same engine.

While a traditional six-speed manual transmission is standard on the GTB, most come with Ferrari's "F1 SuperFast" six-speed sequential-shift manual gearbox (it's standard on the GTO). With it, drivers can choose a fully automatic shifting mode or manually select gears via steering-wheel-mounted paddles. This makes for incredibly rapid shifts, but it can be jerky around town and is prone to smoking its clutch when starting on a hill.

A sophisticated suspension system uses magnetic dampers that firm up in milliseconds in response to aggressive cornering, yet soften up for relaxed highway cruising. Even the track-ready GTO is surprisingly comfortable. The 599 also uses carbon-ceramic brakes and the "F1-Trac" traction control system that was supposedly tuned with help from world-famous F1 racecar driver Michael Schumacher. For that extra bit of performance, the GTB's optional Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione (HGTE) adds stiffer suspension tuning, a lower ride height, a unique high-performance tire compound, quicker gearchanges, sharpened throttle response and a throatier exhaust note.

Inside the cabin, the well-shaped seats are sporty and supportive. Premium leather and aluminum accents enrich the ambience. An optional carbon-fiber steering wheel uses integrated LEDs that move in lockstep with engine revs. Drivers can adjust the car's many interactive systems (such as stability control, suspension settings and F1-gearbox response) via a knob on the steering wheel called the "manettino" -- Italian for "little manager." The Bose sound system features surround sound, satellite radio, a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and a USB port. However, the car's many controls are starting to show their age.

The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano's performance is undeniably thrill-inducing. The car remains so flat and glued to the road while cornering that there is practically no body roll, tire squeal or sliding. Still, the 599's steering leaves a bit to be desired -- it's too light at ultra-high speeds, and the ratio also seems a touch slow for an exotic sports car, as tight cornering requires more hand movement than we'd expect. This is, of course, incredibly relative and a non issue for the HGTE-equipped car or the GTO.

Used Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
The 599 GTB Fiorano debuted for the 2007 model year. Besides the introduction of the HGTE package for 2009 and the GTO for '11, only minor changes have been undertaken. The carbon-ceramic brakes became standard in 2010, along with a navigation system, rear parking sensors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.