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Ferrari's X-rated Prancing Horse

Hardcore: The Ferrari 599XX is an extreme prototype, available only to Ferrari tifosi.

Ferrari confirms hybrid test as it unveils two track-based 599 models

10 Mar 2009

FERRARI focused on its performance credentials with two cars at the Geneva motor show last week, but also chose the occasion to confirm it is testing a hybrid powertrain with an eye to future production.

GoAuto reported Ferrari’s hybrid interest last July, as one of a number of projects aimed at reducing vehicle emissions levels, and in Geneva, company CEO Amedeo Felisa said a hybrid system was being bench-tested “to understand how you can benefit”.

Mr Felisa said the hybrid system – thought to be a parallel set-up with the electric motor between the engine and transmission, as will be employed by other premium and performance brands such as Porsche and Audi in future models – was being applied to a Ferrari 599 but was still confined to the laboratory.

Ferrari is also testing an F1-style kinetic energy recovery system in conjunction with the hybrid, but is not interested in plug-in hybrids or electric cars.

The Prancing Horse displayed two new Ferrari 599 variants designed for track use – the 599 GTB Fiorano Handling GT Evoluzione (HGTE) Package and the seriously hardcore 599XX.

Similar to the FXX prototype program, buyers of the track-only 599XX effectively take part in a development program, driving their car only at selected race tracks around the world with Ferrari engineers present so that Ferrari can gather data and information.

Ferrari does not say how much it costs to buy one of these “extreme” prototypes, which contain a number of new developments and can only be driven at the special Ferrari-organised test days, and says that applicants need to have a history of Ferrari ownership.

34 center imageLeft: Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano.

Although based on the 6.0-litre V12 599 GTB Fiorano, the engineers have extracted an extra 50kW of power through extensive work to the combustion chambers (no mention of a revised capacity) and inlet and exhaust tracts so that peak power of 515kW is developed at a high 9000rpm.

Ferrari said particular attention was also paid to cutting the weight of the engine with a new crankshaft and by adopting exclusive materials, such as the carbon-fibre intake plenums.

A new gearbox shift strategy cuts overall gearchange times to 60 milliseconds.

An electronic concept called the High Performance Dynamic Concept has been designed “to get the maximum performance from the car by managing the combination of the car’s mechanical limits with the potential of its electronic controls … to get the maximum performance from the car under extreme high performance driving”.

Aerodynamic downforce has been increased and the front underside of the body completely faired-in, with the vents that channel hot air from the engine bay moved to the bonnet.

Without the need to meet any international race regulations, for which movable aerodynamics were long ago banned, the 599XX features an “Actiflow” system that includes two fans in the boot that channel the air flow from under the car out through two grilles next to the tail-lights.

For old race fans, that will bring back memories of Niki Lauda’s notorious 1978 Brabham fan car, which was banned after just one (victorious) race, the Swedish Grand Prix.

The 599XX runs on slick race tyres (29/67 R19 Front and 31/71 R19 Rear) and has an advanced new carbon-ceramic braking system that employs carbon-fibre brake pads.

By comparison, the road-legal 599 GTB Fiorano HGTE is a softer option but still has a track focus that echoes handling packages previously offered for the 575 and 612.

Designed to deliver even sportier, more dynamic driving, the HGTE package includes a modified suspension with stiffer springs and rear anti-roll bar, as well as new calibration settings for the magnetic shock absorbers when the manettino switch is turned to its sportiest settings.

Ferrari’s engineers have also lowered the ride height and centre of gravity, specified even grippier tyres on 20-inch split-rim wheels, altered the engine software to improve throttle response and shortened the gearbox shift times.

The bodywork has more carbon-fibre and a matt-black rear diffuser, while the sportier interior also includes some carbon-fibre trim as well as headrests embroidered with a Prancing Horse and the words “Handling GTE”.

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