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Bella fasta. Image by Ferrari.

Bella fasta
Ferrari now offers an 'HGTE' pack for its 599 GTB Fiorano, adding poise and sharpness to an already extraordinary supercar.

   



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| First Drive | Modena, Italy | Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GTE |

With a 611bhp Enzo-derived 6.0-litre V12 engine under its bonnet, trick magnetic dampers, a F1 Superfast paddle-shift transmission and electronic stability and traction control systems developed with the help of F1 engineers and drivers it's hardly surprising that the 599 GTB is such an accomplished machine. Ferrari reckoned it could do better though, adding the 'Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione' (HGTE) pack to its flagship supercar. It is better, by 0.6 seconds a lap around Ferrari's Fiorano track. The changes don't just make it a quantifiably better track car either; it's a more accomplished road car too.

In the Metal

To call the 599 pretty would be to do its ancestors a disservice. It's functional and aggressive, shaped by the need for downforce and stability as much as it has been for pleasing the eye. An assertive, confident looker, the 599 is more chiselled than beautiful, muscular and taut where its predecessors (a few exceptions aside) were sleek and delicate. In HGTE guise it's a little more menacing, the front grille containing either a few less slats or mesh, the dancing pony on it wearing a brushed metal effect rather than the usual bright finish.

It's lower too, the suspension revisions sitting the 599 HGTE 10mm nearer the tarmac, while the large split-rim wheels have, dare I say it, a bit of a tuner look about them. The rear end gains the same matte-finished prancing horse as the front, while the now matte effect diffuser is framed by perforated rim exhaust finishers that nod to Ferrari's '60's GT cars. It's a subtle makeover, but then the 599 has never exactly been lacking in ability to gain attention.

What you get for your Money

Unusually for something wearing the Ferrari badge the HGTE pack adds a great deal. It's 'just' 13,960.51, which for your typical Ferrari buyer is small change. For that you get all the visual additions mentioned previously, plus some carbon-fibre backed sports seats, a choice of brake calliper colours, a more intense-sounding exhaust, revised throttle mappings, stickier compound tyres, a few carbon trim bits inside and the knowledge that your 599 GTB laps its namesake circuit a little quicker than its standard brethren. What you don't get is any more power, but then the 6.0-litre Enzo-derived V12 engine isn't exactly lacking in the performance department, with its 611bhp at 7,600rpm and 448lb.ft of torque at 5,600rpm allowing it to reach 62mph in 3.7 seconds and comfortably exceed the double ton.

Driving it

The 599 has always impressed with its remarkable ability to hoodwink you into thinking it's smaller and lighter than it really is. Phenomenal pace is a given with all that power, but the 599's real trick has always been its quite incomprehensible ability to exploit it all so readily. Thank the chassis engineers and Ferrari's F1 drivers for that, their tuning of the trick magnetic dampers and predictive traction and stability systems allowing even the most ham-fisted of drivers to deliver shocking progress in the 599. Inevitably some will be caught out - as the odd footballer demonstrates periodically in the tabloids - but the 599's dynamic ability is nothing short of extraordinary.

Stiffening up the front and rear springs, thickening the rear anti-roll bar, lowering the ride height by 10mm, changing the throttle mapping, adding stickier rubber and adjusting the traction and stability systems to suit could have upset the 599's tremendous poise. It's certainly stiffer, but it's not overly compromised as a result, the steering reacting with even more vigour than before. Turn the well-weighted wheel and the 599 HGTE's nose goes exactly where you want it to. There's no delay, no slack, just a pure, linear response that, while quick and incisive, isn't overly loaded with feel. Even so, you'll lean on it, turning the 599 ever later and harder with the same effect every time.

It's not just the 599 HGTE's nose that shocks with its predictability; the rear too is just as much part of the steering process as turning the chunky steering wheel is. Switch the Manettino to your desired setting, whether that be full-on governess-style 'ice' or hero-wheelman ability 'CST off' and you can exploit the 599's ample power and mobile rear with remarkable ease. Sport is a good cover all, allowing a good degree of slip before the electronics intervene, while 'Race' allows greater slip angles and speeds up the gearshifts further. Unlike its 430 Scuderia relative there's no way to independently select shifting and traction/stability programmes from the suspension settings, which perhaps isn't quite such an issue in the 599 HGTE compared to the hardcore 430, but on occasion a slightly softer set-up combined with the less nannying traction and stability settings would be beneficial.

What's really remarkable though is that even in Race mode the 599's ride isn't overly compromised; it still exhibits the standard car's uncanny ability to control its size and bulk on even the most challenging roads. The HGTE sharpens this up, without removing some of the necessary body movement that makes reading the building forces and predicting the car's limits so intuitive. The brakes remain the same as in the regular 599, and while there's no denying their enormous ability to stop the big machine, the initial pedal travel is soft and lacking in feel - just like the standard car.

Worth Noting

If you're in the lucky position to have a 599 'languishing' in your garage and you like the sound of a HGTE kit then you'll no-doubt be pleased to hear it's possible to retro fit it to your car. You'll get everything other than some of the interior trim, which given their propensity for squeaking perhaps isn't such a bad thing. Those buying a new 599 will also benefit from a lower CO2 figure of 415g/km and a combined consumption figure of 16mpg. Hardly Friends of the Earth numbers, we agree, but better than the old car's 490g/km and 13.3mpg.

Summary

Ferrari has taken an already exceptional car and added even more dynamic ability to it. We had few complaints with the original; indeed we'd be completely happy with it as standard, but for less than 14,000, the handling pack is a hugely tempting proposition allowing you not just to enjoy the journey, but some track time at the end of it too.

Kyle Fortune - 22 Apr 2009



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2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione specifications:
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 205mph
Combined economy: 16.0mpg
Emissions: 415g/km
Kerb weight: 1688kg

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.



2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione. Image by Ferrari.
 






 

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