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First Look: Ferrari 599 GTO

By KBB.com Editors on April 9, 2010 4:44 PM
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Making its public debut at the Beijing Motor Show later this month, the new Ferrari 599 GTO is destined to be the fastest road-going offering ever to wear the fabled Cavellino Rampante logo. This striking front-engine rear-drive coupe carries the GTO -- for Gran Turismo Omolgato -- moniker because it's actually a slightly tamer and modestly more civilized street-legal version of Ferrari's 599XX experimental racer. It's also the first Ferrari to be anointed with the revered "GTO" appellation since the 288 GTO rolled onto the scene a quarter century ago, carrying on a proud tradition originated back in the '60s by that car's predecessor, the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO.

Like the 599XX, the new 599 GTO is wrapped in bodywork made from lightweight composites and aggressively contoured to take full benefit of aero tricks the factory engineers learned competing in Formula One -- advantages that yield big gains in high-speed downforce without impacting the car's drag numbers. Up front, the redrawn spoiler includes a separate lower element that increases stick while enhancing airflow over the forward-mounted oil radiator. Likewise, the side sill design is optimized to increase the efficiency of the car's revamped underbody fairings, which incorporate special grip-intensifying diffusers ahead of the front wheels as well as a new double-curve rear diffuser. Ferrari says the 599 GTO creates 318 pounds of downforce at 124 mph.

Beneath its bulged-and-vented hood, the Ferrari 599 GTO packs its own version of the house 6.0-liter V12. Here, it makes 661 horsepower, which is 49 more than a standard 599 GTB Fiorano but 59 less than the engine in the 599XX. The 599 GTO's motivator makes an equally stout 457 lb.-ft. of torque, but for all that extra muscle, it actually boasts slightly better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions than the 599 GTB engine. Sole transmission is an F1 six-speed automated manual that, like the 599XX, is capable of changing gears in 60 milliseconds and making multiple downshifts at the flick of its steering-wheel mounted carbon-fiber paddles. That match made in Maranello can send this new Ferrari streaking from 0-60 mph in less than 3.4 seconds and carry it on to a top speed in excess of 208 mph.

Stunning velocity is only one aspect of the 599 GTO's personality. This car was designed to carve corners with supernatural skills, an ability that streams directly from the close correlation between its race-bred chassis design and the latest set of the automaker's integrated electronic controls. Beyond new springs and a stiffer rear anti-roll bar, the 599 GTO also gets a Gen II version of Ferrari's magnetorheological suspension control system (SCM2), which is fully integrated with the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) and newest F1-Trac traction control systems. Although the navigation and audio systems are gone in the interests of weight saving, the 599 GTO does feature a bespoke version of the Ferrari's multi-mode Racing manettino that emphasizes sporty, track specific driving settings by offering the driver full adjustability of the electronic control parameters (including dumping the "ICE" setting on the 599 GTB Fiorano in favor of a "CT-Off" traction control off alternative) as well as the trick Virtual Race Engineer system from the 458 Italia that provides instant feedback on vehicle performance.

Suitably complementing these elements, the 599 GTO is fitted with an extremely precise and direct power steering setup, 599XX-derived Brembo carbon ceramic brakes with ultra-effective calibration of the anti-lock software and special F1-style "wheel donut" fairings that improve cooling while further reducing aero drag. Rounding out the mix are super-grippy Michelin tires that were specifically developed for this application---285/30s up front and 285/35s in the rear---on 20-inch alloy wheels. Collectively, they allow the new 599 GTO, which weighs nearly 200 pounds less than a 599 GTB Fiorano, to undercut the standard GTB's lap times at the factory test track by nearly 2.5 seconds.

Ferrari says it plans to build just 599 of these new road rockets. How many come here and how much they'll sticker for has yet to be confirmed.

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