Ferrari 599 GTB: Road Killer

Here’s a high-performance challenge: Start with the legendary 575 Maranello, unveiled by Ferrari in 2002, and create a front-engined V12 berlinetta that would exceed its extraordinary performance on the track and street. A challenge, indeed, as the Maranello had won both the attention of sportscar buyers as well as two FIA GT championships.

The result from the people of the Prancing Horse: the 599 GTB Fiorano, let loose into the streets and into car lovers’ dreams last year. Indeed, this is a mid-front-engined two-seater that continues the great tradition of Ferrari, from the 250 MM more than a half century ago through the Daytona, itself four decades a legend, to the superb Testarossa.

“Every time you think Ferrari has produced a pinnacle, the geniuses from Maranello go higher, achieve more, drive themselves to a better car,” says Gary Simon, Ferrari sales manager at Scottsdale Ferrari, 6825 E. McDowell Road, where you can also buy Enzo’s vehicles such as the F430 Spyder as well as other superior luxury sports cars such as the Maserati Quattroporte. “Engineering excellence, aerodynamic efficiency, extraordinary design and handcrafted details all combine in the 599,” he adds. “It is state of the art, it is innovative, it is just plain exhilarating.”

Proudly celebrating the sculpted design tradition of the Maranello, the 599 is its better in all categories, with the best weight-to-power ratio in its class and an ideal weight distribution because of engine placement, materials and the technology.

Much of the improvement, in fact, derives from Formula 1 testing and races. “This excitement is now being made available to nonprofessional drivers,” Simon notes. “These innovations push this extreme sports car to the very best in road-holding, safety and stability. This is a vehicle in which you can both push your limits as well as feel secure, safe and comfortable.”

“Not only is the engine remarkable, but the gearbox is extraordinarily fast, the suspension revolutionary, and the cockpit roomy and luxurious,” Simon notes. “Dream of a vehicle that you want to take out on the open highway; that dream is the 599.”

Just this February, readers of the well-respected German car magazine “Auto Motor und Sport” called the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano best in the “Imported Sports Cars” category — the best-performing Granturismo car that has ever been built by Ferrari. This adds to the list of awards the vehicle has won since debuting at the Paris Car Show last year. British car mags, “Evo” and “Top Gear,” made it “2006 Car of the Year” and “2006 Supercar of the Year,” respectively. In addition, readers of the Italian car magazine “Quattroroute” called it “The car I prefer” for 2007. No wonder: You will prefer it, too.

How good, how fast? The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano outputs 620 horsepower from its 366-cubic-inch, 11.2: 1-compression-ratio engine, offers a weight-power ratio less than 2.6 kg/hp, a maximum speed of more than 205 mph (it attains the two century mark in a brisk 11 seconds if you’re in a particular hurry) and 0-62 times of 3.2 seconds. In the Italian carmaker’s stable, only the now discontinued Enzo can top that — and not by much. In fact, much of the architecture of the F140C engine, as it is called in Maranello, derives from that signature sports car: including block, cylinder heads, and combustion chamber relationships.

The maximum engine speed of the 3,722-pound stallion is 8,400 rpm, some 900 rpm higher than the stock 575 M Maranello outputs — an increase of 12 percent. The power output of 103 hp/liter is 13 hp/liter greater than that achieved by the previous vehicle. The power delivery is higher, too: its 620 horsepower at 7,600 rpm increases that produced by the 575 M by 105 horses or 20 percent; and the torque of 608 Nm at 5,600 rpm surpasses that of the Maranello by 3 percent (589 Nm). And, although the F140C engine is a larger displacement than that on the previous car, it is about 8 percent lighter than the previous engine – even more if the 599 clutch and its housing are taken into consideration. The center of gravity is also lower than that of the 575M.

Among the many innovations: chain-driven distribution and twin overhead camshafts per cylinder bank with continuously variable timing on both inlet and exhaust cams to optimize torque delivery and a twin-plate and a low-inertia clutch in unit with the engine. The F1 gearbox, new on the 599, has slashed gearshift times to 100 milliseconds by coordinating the gear changing and clutching and declutching. The stability control system includes predictive software that reacts to conditions and adjusts vehicle traction through tire grip and power delivery accordingly. Never-let-go road holding is the result — both under acceleration as well as in extreme braking and cornering conditions.

Downforce and drag studies have created a vehicle in which suction surpasses lift, thereby further stabilizing the 599. For the engineers who are also aficionados, the Cl — coefficient of lift — is just 0.190 at top speed, and the Cd — drag coefficient — is just 0.336. Similarly, 85 percent of the curb weight is between the axles; 47 percent sits above the front axle and 53 percent above the rear. And, although the bodyshell is light from its aluminum chassis and bodywork, the 599 delivers superior torsional rigidity.

The cockpit is equally well thought out, with space, comfort, and control optimized. “Ferrari has balanced sportiness with hand-crafted luxury, and also has allowed for personalization,” Simon notes. These options include four areas: Racing and Track, Exteriors and Colors, Interior and Materials, and Equipment and Travel. Other possibilities include an Enzo-inspired carbon-fiber steering wheel with LED rev display, Daytona-style seats with perforated inserts, and a satellite navigation system.

The interior is leather trimmed with carbon-fiber and aluminum details. The central rev counter offers a choice of red or yellow background, and the new leather and carbon-fiber racing seats. On the steering wheel is a manettino vehicle dynamic control switch; it had been developed for Formula 1 driving and now is available for the dedicated amateur. The switch regulates the traction control systems, the gearbox, the fluid- suspension system, and the engine management system. “In this way, the driver of the 599 has instant control; he or she can even select sport and race settings as well as adjust for ice and snow,” Simon explains.

“Changes in car technology occur with every race, with every new wind tunnel test, with every computer simulation,” Simon explains. “For most vehicles, even for many good performance vehicles, these are not incorporated because of budgeting and cost-cutting. Fortunately, for those who can own a 599, they are — and you can feel them in every aspect of your driving experience.”

The MSRP for the 599 is $280,295, although Ferrari requires the optional CCM (Carbon Ceramic Material) brakes for North America, adding another $18,500. Buyers usually add another $15,000 or so in options on to that, so the average sales price is about $320,000, Simon explains.

He adds: Ferrari has even improved its legendary throat; the engineering team has reduced plain resonance in favor of the harmonics that drivers love to hear — in particular the third and sixth harmonics. “The result,” says Simon, “is a V12 soundtrack you’ll want to hear even if you don’t leave the driveway.”

Scottsdale Ferrari 480.421.3801