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Launch of the new Ferrari 575M Maranello - story by Shane O' Donoghue

The stunning 550 Maranello has been replaced. If, like me, you wonder why, then read on. The 550 was a beautiful car, with classic proportions and exquisite attention to detail. So why "fix what is not broke"? Well, why not? According to Ferrari!

The replacement has a new name, which as usual with Ferrari, needs explaining. The car is called the 575M Maranello. The 575 denotes the engine size - up from 5500cc to 5750cc. The M signifies that it is a modified car. So, maybe we should call it the 575MM to save confusion?!

Other than the more powerful engine, the most significant change is the addition of the fabulous F1 paddle-shift gearbox, hitherto only available on the Ferrari V8 models. The transmission on the new 575M Maranello is also fitted with the electro-hydraulic "F1" control unit mounted at the rear of the car, in order to minimise response time and to ensure a favourable operating temperature according to Ferrari. The use of the F1 gearchange on the 575M Maranello has been developed specifically with the aim of reducing gearchange time and is integrated with the damping control, at the moment a gear is selected.

One of the factors which has the biggest impact on the carís road-holding is the new adaptive set-up, based on a system of independently controlled damping at all four corners of the car. The system is designed to be capable of selecting the ride height from two choices: Sport, which is selected for a more solid ride, and Comfort, which gives a more comfortable ride.

Thankfully the styling of the car has only received a little attention, mainly with regards to cooling vents and aerodynamics. The wheels are also new, but the car retains the overall appearance of the original. Inside, the story is different, with extensive revisions.

The objectives for the new V12 engine were to increase both the power and the torque, when compared with the 550 Maranello. It now has a maximum power output of 515 bhp at 7250 rpm and maximum torque of 589 Nm at 5250 rpm. This lends the car a top speed of 202 mph (claimed) and a 0-62 mph time of only 4.2 seconds (a fraction more with the manual gearbox).

The braking has been modified to cope with the increased performance of the vehicle, especially in terms of avoiding fade and improving response under braking and the ABS/ASR system has been uprated. On the tyre front, the 575M Maranello is also fitted with electronic tyre pressure checking.

So, the spirit of the 550 lives on, which is indeed the spirit of the original Ferrari Daytona. Another classic in the making? I should think so.

Download the video of Luca Badoer pitting the 550 up against the new 575! It's a good one, though at over 5.0Mb, it takes a while on a modem connection.

The front of the 550 has been rounded off to fit in with the 360 Modena look - the biggest changes are not visible. Image by Ferrari. Click here for a larger image. Looks like these could only come from Pininfarina. Image by Ferrari. Click here for a larger image. The F1 paddle shift is used for the first time with a V12 engine - should be interesting to say the least. Image by Ferrari. Click here for a larger image.

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