2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano 2dr Coupe
Somewhere in America I know there’s someone grinning like an idiot as they hold their phone to their ear. I’ve no idea who they are, but they’ve just received the metallic, shrieking blare of the 599 GTB Fiorano’s 6.0-litre V12 repeatedly ripping up to 7,000rpm.
All via mobile technology and a quick flex of my right ankle. Only Ferrari can do this. Only Ferrari can make someone ask their friend hold their phone to the tailpipe of a car and get them to ask me to give it some. I’m more than happy to oblige. Whoever you might be, I hope you enjoyed it.
But the rasping, metallic cacophony of the V12 is only the half of it, and truth be told it’s actually quite quiet inside the 599 GTB Fiorano on the road. It’s the performance that’s so sensational. The 599 can reach 62mph in the time it’s taken you to read this sentence. Impressive, but if the driver had kept it pinned they’d be doing 124mph, wait... Now. Depending on how quickly you read, that’s 3.7 and 11.0 seconds respectively. That’s scarcely believable performance. That’s pace that’s no longer merely supercar quick, but up in the heady realms of cars like the Carrera GT, the SLR and McLaren F1. It’s hardly surprising then to find that under the Ferrari’s long bonnet nestles an engine that, save for a few alterations, is
Sure, nobody needs a 6.0-litre, V12 with 620bhp and 608Nm of torque. But Ferrari’s development goals for the 599 GTB Fiorano were simple: create a car that’s able to provide the sort of performance and excitement of the F40. That’s messing with supercar royalty, and on paper, it’s right up there. The 599 GTB’s 0-62mph time betters it, as does its 205+mph top speed. Not that I’ve ever driven an F40, but I know several people who have and they all say the same thing; it’s an animal. The 599 GTB Fiorano couldn’t be more different then. Never has so much power been so civilised, so utterly exploitable. I can say with absolutely certainty that I’ll never drive a 599 GTB again with as much conviction as I did on the SS62 from Fornovo di Taro to Berceto.
It’s the road where Enzo Ferrari took part in his very first road race. And it’s sensational. An early start means it’s completely clear, the winding, bucking stretch of tarmac a tough adversary to any car, let alone such a wide one with such a surfeit of power. But Ferrari has ensured the 599 GTB has the measure of this challenge. A combination of elements allows it to monster this road, and any others you might consider. Firstly the 599 GTB’s all aluminium structure means its both light and strong, that Enzo derived engine sitting low and far back behind the front axle along. Some 85% of the 599’s mass is located within the wheelbase ensuring excellent weight distribution.
For the record it’s split 47% front 53% rear, the bias slightly rearward over its 575M Maranello predecessor’s 50/50 distribution. The styling, beautiful but resolute in the deep Rosso Monza of my car, is honed to produce downforce at speed. Even the flying buttresses at the rear have purpose, that being to channel air over the rear. The flat underfloor assists too, sucking the 599 GTB onto the road. Most significant though is the Fiorano’s suspension, the ‘SCM’ Magnetoreological damping key to the 599’s incredible agility. Linked to the Manettino steering wheel dial you to choose your preferred setting for the Fiorano’s electronic control systems.
They’re numerous, including the settings altering the thresholds for the CST and F1 Trac traction and stability systems. It also controls the speed of the shifts on the F1-SuperFast paddle shift six-speed transmission. Sport is suggested as the best compromise for the road. But Race feels right on these roads. Despite the challenging surface the 599 GTB’s body control is extraordinary, those trick dampers managing to contain roll in the corners while soaking up vertical movements caused by the less than perfect undulating road surface. Bumps that should push the 599 off line, or have it bucking are shrugged off, the 599 flowing on these difficult roads with quite astonishing deftness. It’s difficult to comprehend at first, the 599 goading you to try to unsettle it. You’ll not.
The quick incisive steering turns in with determination. The first few inches of the wheel’s movement faithfully placing the 599’s nose exactly where you want it. There’s plenty of feel at the rim too, though it could do with a bit more meatiness to the weighting. Once turned in it remains neutral through even hairpin tight bends, its beautiful balance clear whatever the radius of corner. Winding off the lock it’s easy to steer through the remainder of the bend with the rear wheels and power, the CST and F1 Trac allowing a degree of oversteer. In ‘Race’ it allows quite a lot. It also speeds up the shifts of the F1-SuperFast transmission. Slamming through the gears at 100 milliseconds it’s Ferrari’s fastest paddleshift transmission aside from Schumacher and Massa’s weekend playthings.
Keep the accelerator buried, tug back on the right paddle and before it’s even really registered you’re reaching for it again as the gear is devoured by the V12 ripping up to its heady 8,400rpm redline. For smoothness changing gears it’s best to momentarily lift, but there’s something gratifyingly feral about letting it register your shifts with a quick jerk, the downshifts smoothed and announced by a sharp, shrill blip from the throttle. The optional carbon ceramic brakes never fade, though the pedal needs a good shove to get them working. The pedal movement initially proves unexpectedly long, unlike the rest of the 599 the brakes take some learning, lacking the precision feedback of the rest of the controls. A bit more bite at the top of the pedals movement would instil more confidence.
While I’m on the 599’s few negatives the F1 paddles either need to reach further around the wheel’s circumference, or move with it. As they are you’re often tugging mid air exiting a corner taking off steering lock. There’s a bit of wind noise at speed too, and the carbon fibre and leather trim creaks like an old rope swing. The digital display and rev lights on the steering wheel are too much, the shrieking engine and rev counter doing the job better than any disco lights. Small complaints on what’s perhaps the most accomplished Ferrari ever. Prices have yet to be announced, but a two-year waiting list in the UK suggests buyers simply don’t care.