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First look: Ferrari’s 'fastest road car'

No prancing pony: Track-ready GTO borrows 599XX and F1 tech to become a thoroughbred stallion.

Ferrari reveals the outrageous new 599XX-based GTO, its most extreme road car yet

8 Apr 2010

MEET what Ferrari calls its fastest road car ever – the hotly anticipated GTO version of its four-year-old supercar flagship, the 599 GTB Fiorano.

The even harder-core super-coupe, which debuts publicly at China’s Beijing motor show from April 21, will be restricted to just 599 examples globally when production commences later this year.

At this stage precisely how many will come Down Under is unknown, but Australian and New Zealand distributor European Automotive Imports says it already holds “a number” of expressions of interest, a year out from first local deliveries in early 2011.

Expect the 599 GTO to set a new Ferrari price benchmark at around $700,000 - well above the regular 599, which was last sold at $650,300, and the top-shelf 612 Scaglietti four-seater ($670,250).

Ferrari says its exclusive new two-seat torch-bearer – at least until it releases a replacement for its million-dollar 2003 Enzo – is a completely new concept, “albeit inspired by a production car”, that benefits directly from the technological transfer from Formula One.

Reserved just for “599 clients who seek the maximum expression of high performance driving”, it says the GTO is better described as a road-going version of Ferrari’s advanced 599XX experimental track car it showed at Geneva a year ago rather than a limited edition of the 599.

Either way, representing a return to what Italy’s adored prancing horse brand does best, after the media hype that surrounded last month’s Geneva show debut of Ferrari’s first (599-based) hybrid – which may be five years away from reality – the 599 GTO slams down some seriously spectacular performance statistics.

They are headlined by a claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time of just 3.35 seconds. That's down from the standard 599’s 3.7 seconds and 0.05 seconds quicker than Ferrari's new 458 Italia coupe, which is due here mid-year and offers the same 3.4-second 0-100km/h pace as Porsche's latest 911 Turbo.

At 335km/h, the GTO also eclipses the 458’s top speed by 10km/h (and the regular 599's by 5km/h). Despite the 'fastest Ferrari road car ever' claim, however, the GTO is not as quick or fast as the mid-engined carbon-fibre Enzo, which had a stated 0-100km/h time of 3.2 seconds and an estimated top speed of 360km/h.

There's no doubting the GTO's impressive weight-to-power ratio of just 2.23kg/hp, though, or its record lap time of just 1:24 at the Fiorano racetrack from which its donor car takes its name.

That makes the GTO quicker around Ferrari's test track than both the 599 and the Enzo (1:25), thanks to a more powerful iteration of the 599’s 5.999-litre 65-degree alloy V12, a hefty weight reduction and comprehensive chassis and aerodynamic tweaks.

Ferrari says the 599 GTO V12 – described as a street-legal, Euro 5 emissions-compliant version of the 599XX engine – delivers 500kW at 8250rpm, which is up 44kW on the 456kW 599 at an extra 650rpm, but down 10kW and 750rpm on the 599XX concept.

There is also a claimed 620Nm of twist available at 6500rpm, which out-muscles the regular 599’s 607Nm by just 13Nm at an extra 900rpm.

34 center imageThere is no change to the alloy V12’s 11.2:1 compression ratio, but Ferrari says reduced internal friction from a new crankshaft and close attention to fluid dynamics produces “a smooth, constant rush of power all the way to the redline with no loss of flexibility even at medium and low revs”.

Better still, improved high-rpm power delivery and reduce losses are attributed to a race-type intake manifold with diffuser-type inlet geometry and shorter inlet tracts, plus a connection between the two front plenums to maximise each cylinder’s volumetric efficiency.

As usual, Ferrari says engine noise in the GTO cabin is a carefully tuned balance between induction and exhaust systems, the latter comprising a 599XX-derived six-into-one manifold.

Drive to the rear wheels takes place via the same six-speed F1 sequential manual transmission as in the 599, but as in the XX delivers shift times in as little as 60 milliseconds and allows multiple simultaneous downshifts.

At the same time, kerb weight is reduced by 85kg - from 1690 to 1605kg, or just 1495kg dry, split 47/53 front/rear despite a mid/front-mounted longitudinal V12.

The result is a slight increase in engine efficiency despite the extra power and performance, with fuel consumption and CO2 emissions reducing 18 per cent to 17.5L/100km and 411g/km respectively.

The 599 GTO is not just a case of more power, less weight, however. Ferrari doesn’t produce an all-new car often and its new technology leader continues the Maranello maker’s policy to introduce new solutions for every new road car.

In this case, according to Ferrari, the answer was a chassis development program that “for the first time on a production car, saw the integration between a handling set-up tuned for a level of responsiveness that is close to the limit and highly sophisticated electronic controls”.

“The result is the almost complete absence of understeer and a truly communicative chassis.” New GTO technologies include ‘wheel doughnuts’ to improve aerodynamics and brake disc/pad cooling, wider front tyres and a new driver-car interface including instantaneous performance information via Virtual Race Engineer (VRE).

The unique GTO chassis tune, which goes beyond the $65,000 HGTE (or Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione) package for the 599, includes stiffer springs and rear anti-roll bar, and a second-generation magnetorheological suspension damping control system.

Ferrari says SCM2 works in tandem with its latest-generation VDC stability control, F1-Trac traction control and more direct-ratio steering systems to make the GTO chassis more responsive than the GTB’s, as well as more stable under brakes, sharper on turn-in, more precise in cornering and quicker out of corners.

Specific weight-saving measures include new thinner-gauge aluminium bodywork and thinner glass, lighter second-generation CCM2 Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes that Ferrari says also offer better performance and consistency, and a new exhaust system.

Aerodynamically, Ferrari says it employed F1 and 599XX experience to greatly increase downforce to 144kg at 200km/h without impacting on drag, while also winding up the 599’s aggression cosmetically via a number of 599XX styling cues, a black roof and extra bonnet vents.

The new aero kit aims to fine-tune airflow around the front-end, which now features a separate lower wing to narrow the nose’s wind wake, the body sides, which gain new sills with a more pronounced leading edge, and underbody, which gets a new lower front section with diffusers ahead of the front wheels for extra downforce.

Finally, there is a new double-curve rear diffuser and ‘donut’ discs that direct hot air out from the wheel-arches and as close to the body side as possible to cut drag.

Narrower than the 599XX’s 11 and 12-inch wide front and rear rubber but claimed to increase lateral grip and steering turn-in over the 599, the GTO runs 20 –inch wheels measuring 9.5 inches wide up front (with 285/30 tyres) and 11.5-inch wide at rear, with 315/35 tyres.

Combined with upgraded ABS and the new carbon-ceramic brakes – measuring 398x38mm front and 360x32 rear - the GTO’s 100-0km/h stopping distance reduces to 32.5 metres.

Rounding out the changes are longer bespoke carbon-fibre F1 steering wheel shift paddles, while the transmission’s ICE position on the 599 GTB Fiorano is replaced by CT-Off (traction control off).

The GTO is also fitted with bespoke, longer carbon-fibre F1 paddles for easier use in high-speed driving. In addition the GTO also features the Virtual Race Engineer, a system that monitors the status of the car and gives the driver immediate visibility of vehicle performance.

Replacing the 599 GTB (for berlinetta) moniker, the hard-core GTO (Gran Turismo Omologata) nameplate was worn by Ferrari’s 1962 250 GTO, which dominated that decade’s GT racing in Europe, and the 1984 GTO, which Ferrari says invented the entire modern supercar genre.

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