2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Review

Ferrari's flagship 599 combines grand touring luxury with supercar performance

2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Review

There is a level of sophistication in any Ferrari that goes far beyond what is normally expected from even the most exotic sports car. Whether it stems from the hyperactivity it requires to produce Formula One dominating race cars, or a passion for perfection rooted in the original vision of Enzo Ferrari himself, driving a Ferrari is akin to all that we enjoy about high performance motoring.

FAST FACTS

1. The 599 shares the Enzo’s 6.0-liter V12 engine, which produces 620hp and 448 ft-lbs of torque in this application.

2. The sprint to 62 mph takes just 3.7 seconds and top speed is rated at 205 mph.

3. Pricing for the 599 starts at just over $300,000.

4. Ferrari now sells the HGTE (Handling GT Evoluzione) version of the 599 with a lower and stiffer suspension, new shock settings and light-weight three-piece wheels.

My re-acquaintance with this fact took shape in the form of two security guards at the entrance to Carmel Valley Ranch resort near Carmel, California. Accustomed to guests arriving in unusual vehicles, they took a few steps backward as we pulled ahead. Waving and driving past, I watched as unusually wide eyes and broad smiles greeted our entrance. Nothing puts a grin on your face faster than a Ferrari, especially when it’s as unique as the 2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano F1. That beaming mug you left behind will still be there hours later upon your return.

POWERFUL V12 IS REFINED AND READY

A 5999cc V12 rests under the elongated front hood of the 2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano F1. Derived from the mighty Enzo engine, it develops a gut wrenching 620 horsepower at 7600 rpm and 448 ft-lbs of torque at 5600 rpm. Only a handful of elite vehicles would test their luck against this brute when the light turns green.

It may sound unbelievable, but driving the 599 GTB Fiorano F1 is as uncomplicated as driving any other sports car on the road. Place the transmission in auto mode and the 6-speed gearbox shifts without incident. Top gear is achieved at the earliest possible moment to improve fuel economy. Getting groceries couldn’t be more fun.

That said, cruising in and out of shopping mall parking lots isn’t the point of this Gran Turismo Berlinetta from Maranello. Some would even say the very idea borders on being sacrilegious. But really, what do they know?

Not to overly worry the Ferrari faithful, acceleration from 0-62 mph is achieved in a mere 3.7 seconds, while 0-124 mph flashes past in 11 seconds. Top speed exceeds 205 mph.

Try this in a parking lot and the valet attendants are sure to be left smiling, but for a very different reason.

Mated to an F1-styled gearbox; manual shifts are completed in 100 millisecond intervals. Pininfarina may have penned the sculpted aluminum body, but the inside of a racing helmet gave the 599 GTB Fiorano F1 its heart and soul.

BEAUTY IS MORE THAN SKIN DEEP

Inside the 599 GTB Fiorano, molded leather and carbon fiber seats capture your imagination and keep your body comfortable mile after mile. Form fitting and graceful in appearance, additional electronics allow side bolsters to be drawn in for added support. A 3-spoke perforated leather and carbon fiber steering wheel house the left side engine start button and F1-Trac system dial on the right.

Electromagnetic damping control constantly adjusts the suspension, taking into account body roll and changes brought about by weight transfer. Tires are oversized; 245/40/19 in front and 305/35/20 at the rear. Bumps and potholes are easily felt through the seat, but never to the point of feeling uncomfortable.

Ride quality is superior, bordering on grand touring rather than super sports car. The 599 GTB Fiorano F1 uses electromagnetic shocks, their calibration partly controlled by the Manettino, a five-position rotary switch on the steering wheel that also governs shift speed, traction and stability-control settings. Stopping power is immediate thanks to 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

ON THE ROAD IS WHERE THE FUN BEGINS

Driving the northern coast of California near Carmel in a Ferrari is an experience that nearly defies description.

Throwing the 599 GTB Fiorano F1 around blind corners, tight “S” bends and rolling hills is fantastic! The hardest part is keeping your emotions in check. At one point, I was so caught up in the moment; I didn’t even notice the crashing waves and goose-bump-inspiring scenery just outside my passenger window. Ducati motorcycles, Porsche 911s and Aston Martins were left in the dust, only to contemplate what had passed them by with such ease.

Several hours later, I found myself back at the resort late for dinner. Not surprisingly, the two security guards were still smiling and waving me through with open arms. It seems I wasn’t the only one enjoying what it means to experience the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano F1 live and in person.

THE VERDICT

Tell an auto enthusiast you have just spent the past few days driving a Ferrari, any Ferrari, in Carmel, California and whatever the prior topic was is instantly forgotten. The Italian automaker is as iconic to the automobile industry as Disney is to theme parks. Which one has the higher entertainment value is a personal decision.

Power and influence are the keys to success in any venture. Mix in a little driving fun and exclusivity, and you have the recipe that makes the 599 GTB Fiorano F1 such a smash success. To drive one is an experience to be savored for many years to come. The price of admission is certainly high, but then again, have you checked out the cost of a 5 day pass at Disney World recently? That too is expensive.

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