599 GTB Fiorano F1
Fiorano F1 has
in motor racing
The real surprise is
that it is eminently
can be driven any-
where, every day of the year. No wonder buyers dont think
twice about handing over £216,000 to get behind the wheel...
YOU CAN'T GET AWAY FROM IT we all have a predisposition
to worship glamorous things. And 'glamorous' doesn't come
much finer than those magnificent machines from Maranello so aptly
defined by Ferrari's evocative prancing horse.
Endowed with a mesmerising combination of speed, performance and presence, Ferraris
have long trumped all-comers in the automotive buzzword stakes. They're undeniably
exciting: exciting to look at; exciting to ride in; and even more exciting to
Recently, we've driven and, more importantly, lived with a 'dream
garage' of desirable Ferraris beginning with the 612 Scaglietti,
followed by a F430 Spider and now, the flagship
599 Gran Turismo Berlinetta we are reviewing here.
For those for whom a Ferrari is merely a machine to drive albeit arguably
a thoroughbred the 599 GTB's six headline numbers will be what
matters most. So, and in no particular order, here they are: 6.0-litre V12;
205+mph; 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds; 0-100mph in 7.5 seconds; 448lb ft; 612bhp.
The 599 GTB Fiorano F1 is the hottest series-production model ever to drive
out of Maranello's gates.
Blindingly fast, yes. Ferocious? Not by nature… Sure, act the fool and the 599
will bite although, even when you eschew its willingness to go with you rather
than go against you, its electronic software will still do everything in its
power to indulge. Unlike many spectacularly fast cars, the 599 is a team player,
flattering its driver whenever it can.
But before you get behind the wheel and savour the driving experience that awaits
you, you have to admire this beautiful work of art. At which point you can enjoy
the first layer of the 599's siren-like appeal a body to die for.
throughout in aluminium alloy as, too, is the engine and chassis
the ultra-handsome Pininfarina-styled super-coupé bodywork is, more than
anything, notable for its almost-magnetic presence. Full-on, wide-tracked attitude
it has in spades. Drive me, it implores. Drive me NOW!
Whenever you crave an
the 599 will serve one
up seasoned with
mighty grip and razor
Much of what is impressive is hidden from sight. For example, look beneath a
599 and you'll find an under-floor that owes its flatness to the wind tunnel:
its purpose is to increase downforce at very high speeds by channelling air
back and out over the upswept rear diffuser. Inspect the 599's flying buttresses
close your eyes as you run your hand over the inner surface and you'll
feel the smoothly sculpted contour where automotive art embraces function. Because
these artfully-contrived 'wings' have been designed to contribute a quarter
of the 599's 160kgs downforce at 186mph.
Lift the bonnet and there, evocatively finished in blood-red and silver, beats
the dragon's heart. Front-mid-mounted, the 599's 6.0-litre V12 is essentially
the same engine that powered the formidable Enzo. In the GTB it is a far more
tractable unit; one perfectly suited to everyday driving that includes fuss-free,
real-world, stop-start tractability albeit with a genuine 205+mph top-end
for the right time and the right place…
Pull open the driver's door and you can further justify the 599's price. Had
we been writing a cheque for our test car, the figure we would have penned would
have been £216,324. For that you do get a fully-kitted-out 599 GTB with aluminium
brake callipers and carbon-ceramic brake system, F1 Superfast paddle-shift transmission,
BOSE hi-fi system, one-shot up/down electric windows, a radio navigation system,
rear parking sensors, 20-inch alloy wheels, electric Recaro seats, electrically-adjustable
easy-exit steering wheel, climate control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
For the record, on-the-road prices for the 599 GTB Fiorano start at £197,405.
The spacious and luxurious cockpit is a tasteful delight, with lashings of hide
and carbon-fibre. Richly atmospheric, it's imbued with Italian flair and craftsmanship.
Slide easily into the leather-skinned carbon-fibre seat the easy manoeuvre
is made even easier by the powered (height- and reach-adjustable) steering wheel
left in its thigh-clearing easy-exit position from the last time the ignition
was switched off. While not appearing excessively hip-hugging, the Recaro seats
are deceptively well-bolstered and proved to be both superbly comfortable and
very supportive on journeys of any distance. There's practical storage space,
too, with flexible leather door pockets, a fair-sized glovebox and a large open
rear luggage shelf behind the seats big enough to take a small golf bag.
instrumentation package is first-class and beautifully executed
and comprises an easy-to-read mix of both analogue and digital displays. Directly
ahead of the driver and red-lined at 8,400rpm, the flamboyant yellow rev-counter
says it all.
to have the skills of an F1
pilot to drive the 599
or to get maximum
from driving it...
It also incorporates a digital gear/mode display with easy to read orangey-yellow
graphics. The smaller white on black speedometer is calibrated
to 220mph. To the left of the rev-counter is an absolutely crystal clear LCD
display that can be switched between trip computer, coolant and oil 'gauges'
or tyre pressure/tyre temperature readings. If you wish, it will even record
your lap times on trackdays!
A band along the top of the screen displays the manettino setting currently
active, each helpfully colour-coded to match the steering wheel switch: blue
for Ice; green for Normal; white for Sport; red for Race; and dark red for
We especially liked the horn buttons integrated into the rim of the steering
wheel safe and practical and your hands never leave the wheel. And what
a wheel it is: the leather-wrapped rim is comfortably hard with perforated 'work'
areas and lovely cut-outs for your thumbs. Buttons for cycling though the digital
display are located conveniently behind the horizontal spokes.
The driving position is spot-on, aided by the unexpectedly good visibility to
the front and also to the sides. Although you sit low (when you first get in
the 599 you're very aware of the high-ish waist), the view down the long nose
and over the bonnet's power bulge is obligingly defined by the tops of the two
crisply-contoured front wings, making judging the 599's width, and placing it
accurately on the road, straightforward.
But enough of the superficial detailing that's alluring enough to get small
boys and grown men alike peering through the windows when you leave the 599
parked. To business: Foot firmly on the brake, key in and turned 90-degrees
to the first position, wait a second or two for all the safety lights to go
out, press and hold the red START button on the lower left of the steering wheel
boss the V12 bursts into life with a wicked crackle; rises and falls
with race-bred immediacy. The 599 is equipped with a F1 Superfast paddle-shift
system. As its name infers, it's a very, very fast-shifter: in its fastest setting,
the minimum total shift time (clutch disengaging and then fully re-engaging
the next gear) is just one tenth of one second.
start-up, the 599 defaults to Auto mode. At any other time, pressing the Auto
button on the centre console selects automatic gear changing confirmed
by a yellow 'Auto' message showing in the dashboard display.
should only be
used if the driver is
confident, the road
conditions are dry and
you are in a controlled
characteristics of the 599
can be evaluated
For the record, Auto can be overridden at any time with an up/down paddle-shift.
At this point, most drivers will choose manual changing and lightly finger-tap
the right-hand paddle to select first gear. The left-hand paddle takes you down
the gearbox; the right goes up. It sounds confusing if you've not used a paddle-shift
before but you adjust in no time, after which it feels totally logical.
More importantly, your fingertips can unerringly find and operate the paddles
whatever the position of the steering wheel. As we cruised through the winding
lanes of the Buckinghamshire country-side around Marlow we had great fun with
Completing the trio of control switches on the centre console, in the space
once occupied by the manual gear lever, is the button for selecting reverse
gear and, devilishly tempting, another marked 'LC'. Another 'carry-over' of
F1 technology, it stands for Launch Control and it does exactly that.
As it warns in the official press pack: "The launch control function should
only be used if the driver is confident, the road conditions are dry and you
are in a controlled environment where the performance characteristics of the
car can be evaluated safely." When activated, and with your foot on the brake,
you rev the engine to approximately 5,000rpm then release the brakes.
To help drivers exploit its considerable power, the 599 comes equipped with
F1-Trac, an active differential traction and stability system developed specifically
for the front-engined 599's dynamics and based on the experience built up over
thousands of miles of Formula 1 testing and races by Ferrari's drivers.
F1-Trac's predictive software provides predictable handling even in extreme
situations and improves grip out of bends a 20 percent increase in exit
speed compared to traditional systems. The F1-Trac's various modes are selected
by the driver using the red manettino switch mounted on the lower right of the
steering wheel boss. A digital readout in the instrument binnacle ensures the
active mode can always been seen at a glance.
five manettino settings comprise: Ice, for driving in low grip conditions with
maximum intervention from the Traction Stability Control system (CST). Normal,
which offers damping optimised for best comfort without affecting handling or
Control turned off,
only the ABS and EBD
are still active.
In this mode you really
of your own fate...
The keen driver's default Sport is the setting for optimum road
performance. Damper settings change to maximise performance, handling and stability
at high speeds, and the CST allows the driver more freedom without excessively
reducing engine performance. Race is only to be used on the track. Gearshifts
are faster and damping is adjusted to maximise stability and performance for
driving on a circuit. CST intervention is kept to a minimum. Finally, there's
CST (shown with a strikethrough) to make it clear that Traction Stability
Control is turned off; only the ABS and EBD are still active. In this mode you
really are master of your own fate.
Another key high-tech component is the new magnetorheological suspension control
system, known as SCM. This makes use of 'smart' dampers (the fluid viscosity
is adjusted electromagnetically) to optimise the 599's suspension virtually
instantaneously for the prevailing conditions be it a pothole or over-exuberance
on the part of the driver. In practice, this delivers greatly improved body
control which in turn directly improves handling and roadholding thanks to optimal
tyre grip. The result is a much safer and more enjoyable driving experience
courtesy of reduced roll, squat and pitch and greater control when accelerating,
braking and cornering.
On the move you're well aware of what's going on beneath your seat; the steering
is tautly responsive but, if you want to be seen as the Master and Commander
then you need
to be tidy with your inputs. Most of the time you really can (should you wish)
leave the manettino driving mode control set to Normal with the gearbox left
to manage itself in Auto. However, a truly memorable week spent behind the wheel
of the 599 confirmed Sport as the most satisfying and rewarding choice.
Worth special mention is the 599's ride comfort. Don't forget, this is a 200+mph
supercar running on 20-inch wheels with massive low-pro rubber: 245/35 at the
front and 305/35 at the rear. Yet, without exception, everyone who rode in the
599 commented favourably on the ride quality. For a car with such high-speed
handling credentials to ride so well is as unexpected as it is praiseworthy.
Driving in heavy traffic around the M25 has never felt so good!
it comes to big numbers, it's not just the 599's price tag that has them. There's
more beneath the bonnet 612 wild horses waiting to be unleashed (and
you will enjoy every single one of them!).
engine is a fabulous
piece of engineering:
it pulls cleanly from idle
to the red line with
Peak power is at 7,600rpm although it revs to a furious 8,400rpm, with maximum
torque of 448lb ft at 5,600rpm. Not surprising, then, that at close to double
the UK's legal limit the 599 feels as though it's just getting into its stride.
Choose manual and paddle-shift your way through the F1-style electro-hydraulically
operated, six-speed gearbox and you'll have found the 599 GTB's sweet spot.
Ferrari's twelve-cylinder engine is a fabulous piece of engineering: mechanically
refined, it pulls cleanly from idle to the red line with astonishing verve.
Floor the throttle pedal and you'll experience its 612bhp war-cry a gloriously
raw battle-song evocative of mounted warriors charging to glory and beyond;
the accompanying acceleration is shockingly, breathtakingly brutal.
In a car this rapid it scorches to 125mph from standstill in 11 seconds
you need information and you need it immediately if you are going to
drive it in the manner in which is was designed to be driven. Happily, the 599's
excellent driving position, practical all-round visibility and cohesive controls
do a lot to ensure the driver is always aware of what's going on around him.
Overtaking on everyday roads at normal speeds between 30mph and 70mph needs
an iron will if you intend keeping your licence because you don't need to press
very hard on the accelerator to get the 599 moving at twice the speed of the
other traffic. Adding to the 599's rocket-like fluency are super-fast gear changes
that scarcely interrupt the power delivery. Mostly you hear, rather than feel
them; the change in the exhaust note marking the shift.
Reassuringly, when you need to shed speed, the brilliant carbon-ceramic discs
have the power to almost literally take your breath away as they
haul you down. Time after time. Forget 'no fear'; here you have no
fade. Body control under hard braking is, as you'd expect, predictable,
with no hint of weave, dip or dive. There's also good progressive weighting
to the pedal, made better by Ferrari's attention to detail that even extends
to positioning the substantial alloy brake pedal perfectly in line with the
driver's right leg.
further and harder you drive the vice-free 599 the more you keep
coming back to the realisation of just how civilised this explosively quick
and pliant supercar is.
The further and
harder you drive the
the more you
keep coming back
to the realisation of just
how civilised this
explosively quick and
pliant supercar is...
Drive amiably and it will indulge you, pottering along in 20mph zones without
a hint of impatience.
Then, when you crave an utterly involving, adrenaline-rich drive, it will serve
one up seasoned with mighty grip and razor sharp agility. Back off, and
it will cruise motorways at an easy 100mph [where legal, of course
Ed] quietly enough to allow relaxed conversation or unspoilt listening to
whatever's playing on the Bose hi-fi in our case, The Parlotones and
Leonard Cohen. Cabin insulation is very good and, unless you're really going
for it, engine and exhaust sounds are never intrusive.
Other likeable everyday features include easy three-point turns (even down country
lanes); an accommodating boot with 320 litres of luggage space; and the fact
that the 599 actually fits neatly into a standard Sainsbury's parking bay
with room to spare all round! Be prepared for the usual admiration society because
Ferraris always enjoy basking in the glow of the attention they get all
positive and smile-inducing comments!
This Ferrari really is a supercar for the mere mortal. Admittedly, you do have
to come up with getting on for a quarter of a million pounds to buy one in the
first place; but you don't need to have the skills of an F1 pilot to drive the
599 or to get maximum enjoyment from driving it. When a million dollars
was actually worth something, you could have said that driving the 599 made
you feel like a million dollars. A more accurate statement would be to say that,
while it doesn't actually have magical powers, a Ferrari 599 GTB will certainly
waft you away to Cloud Nine. MotorBar
Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano F1 | £197,405
Maximum speed: 205+mph | 0-62mph: 3.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 13.5mpg
Power: 612bhp | Torque: 448lb ft | CO2 490g/km