Ferrari 599: Prancing with the Stars !

Driving Ferrari’s new $600,000 supercar.

Fiorano is not hallowed ground, yet it is revered by millions and trodden by demi-gods. Just the ticket to launch the $600,000-plus Ferrari V12 599 GTB Fiorano, the most powerful two-seater mid-front engined berlinetta to roll out of Ferrari’s Maranello factory.

The Fiorano test track, Ferrari’s private playpen near its northern Italian headquarters, has hosted legendary men and machines for more than three decades.

Michael Schumacher honed his association with Ferrari on the 3km track (he still does) and spent hours between F1 tests adding his input into the development of Ferrari’s latest road warrior, the 456kW 599 GTB.

It is no surprise, then, that Ferrari chose to launch the 599 in a program centred around its test track. The opportunity to follow in — or tip-toe in — Schumacher’s footsteps was simply irresistible. It also provided the ideal stage to showcase just what a sweetie this car can be. Much in the way a tame grizzly can be considered a sweetie, right up to the moment it turns on you, something it will not do short of senseless provocation.

If Ferrari has done nothing else during the development of the 599, it has perfected a performance car for dunces.

It has, in fact, done much more than that and the lucky few who get their hands on one of these — only 10 in Australia this year — can make of it what they will.

“The ultimate challenge for a performance car is to be at the extreme edge but still be very balanced to drive,” says Massimo Fumarola, who is in charge of Ferrari’s product development portfolio. “It may sound odd but this is an everyday use car … performance balanced with comfort.”

The 599’s character is set through the steering wheel-mounted manettino, a Formual One-inspired switch allowing the driver to choose suspension, gearbox, traction control and engine settings. The engine setting range varies between ice, wet, sport, race and ultimate, in which all electronic aids are disabled and the car is set free.

All the information relevant to the manettino setting is displayed on a digital display next to the bright yellow tacho, the dominant instrument in the well laid-out dash.

The potential of the 6.0-litre (5.99-litres to be precise, hence the name) is brutal. Derived from the Enzo supercar powerplant, the 65-degree V12 can propel the 599 to 100km/h in a breathtaking 3.7-seconds on its way to a top speed somewhere beyond 330km/h.

Punch it as hard as you are game and it will take a brave, or foolhardy, soul, to see the top end of the new Cambio F1 Superfast gearbox.

At its most aggressive the shifts are down to 100 milliseconds, just half a blink off F1 times. At those levels there is no escaping the thumping violence of the shifts as the gearbox fights to keep pace with the howling engine. Switch the manettino back a notch or two, ease up on throttle aggression and the 599’s sweet side re-emerges.

Regardless of the choice of mode, the 599’s magnetorheological fluid suspension system shines. The system, pioneered by General Motors in the current Corvette, utilizes a particular property of MR fluid which sees it change density when subject to a magnetic

field. Reading sensors throughout the chassis, the suspension’s central processor varies the density and resistance of the fluid, reacting almost instantly to reduce body movement and maintain maximum tyre contact with the road.

The result is an almost eerie sense of calm over the most uneven surfaces and a surefootedness that takes some serious exploration before limits are even approached.

That sense of calm and control is assisted in no small part by the refined F1-Trac stability and traction control system.

Derived, as is so much of the 599, from F1 development, the system offers a claimed 20 per cent increase in the grip quotient under acceleration during cornering.

The car will still step out under extreme provocation, caught early and rather aggressively by the system in sport mode but allowed to drift a littler further with a more gentle correction in race trim.

As an aesthetic exercise, the 599 GTB is divisive. The opinion on the look of the car can change as quickly as the angle it is viewed. Long and lean from the side, a shape dominated by creases and vents — all with their purpose.

The car sports no spoilers but its aerodynamic down-force is considerable, if subtle. At 300km/h there is 160kg of down-force, 50kg of which come from the distinctive “flying buttress” rear  quarters.

Apart from the track, the car was also tested on a 300km road loop to the north of Modena. Here the car showed it could be perfectly civil transport with the capacity for fun at a moment’s notice. Even broken-up back roads did not phase the magnetic fluid suspension while time on the open speed-limit autostrada gave the car the perfect opportunity to stretch its legs.

The interior is Ferrari through and through. Individuality is a byword of the brand and there are countless combinations of trim colour, style, stitching and materials available.

If you want it, Ferrari can make it.

But with the covenant that personalisation will not involve mechanical performance enhancements, will not be illegal — and importantly, will not involve anything outside the Ferrari philosophy.

It wasn’t specifically said, but there was a strong impression a lack of good taste in colour requests would also be discouraged.

Very Italian, indeed.


  • Fast facts
  • Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
  • Price: more than
  • Engine: 5.99-litre
    65-degree V12; 456kW@7600rpm, 608Nm@5600rpm
  • Transmission:
    6-speed F1-Superfast sequential manual paddle shift;
  • rear-wheel drive
  • Performance:
    0-100km/h 3.7 secs, 0-200km/h 11 secs; the car’s top speed is more
    than 330km/h
  • Fuel: 21.3l/100km
    combined (supplied figure)
  • Weight: 1690kg
  • Suspension:
    Magnetorheological damping control
  • Brakes: ventilated
    steel discs (optional carbon ceramic); front 355mm x 32mm, rear
    330mm x 28mm
  • Wheels/tyres:
    Alloys, front 245/40 R19, rear 305/35 R20








  1. Ferrari is about a million time bteter than Aston Martin in every category If Aston Martin is still around is because Ford bought it and helped them financially, they were making one car for 7 years, DB7. Almost went bankrupt until Ford bought it and after 6 years sold it to a KUWAITI ARAB for under a billion dollar! hehe, very classy

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