Full 2008 Ferrari 599 Review
What's New for 2008
All-new last year, the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano is unchanged for 2008.
Talk about mission impossible. When the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano was being developed, its engineers were tasked with surpassing the performance of the legendary Ferrari F40 while simultaneously providing the refined livability of the outgoing 575M Maranello. Somehow, they pulled it off. The 612-horsepower 599 GTB Fiorano is supercar-fast and daily-driver docile, and it can be yours if you've got hundreds of thousands of dollars and don't mind languishing on a waiting list for awhile.
Like the 575, the 599 GTB Fiorano has a V12 engine positioned ahead of the passenger compartment. With styling penned by longtime Ferrari aesthetician Pininfarina, the 599 resembles the four-seat 612 Scaglietti in front, but the rest of the car is a unique blend of rising haunches, flying-buttress roof pillars and an assortment of air intakes and extractors. Underneath, the 599 shares the 612 Scaglietti's platform architecture -- not a bad choice as organ donors go.
The 599 GTB Fiorano's 612 hp is tasked with propelling 3,722 pounds of supercar, yielding an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 1 hp for every 6.1 pounds. Very few road-going cars can best this figure, and those that do generally can't match the 599 GTB Fiorano's soulful character and finely wrought interior. Ferrari claims a 3.7-second 0-62-mph (100 km/h) time and a top speed in excess of 200 mph. The sophisticated suspension features magnetic dampers that firm up in milliseconds in response to aggressive cornering, yet ease off for relaxed interstate cruising, allowing the 599 GTB to serve up thrills and comfort as needed.
Of course, none of this comes cheap or easy. Ferrari's asking upwards of $300,000, and the waiting list is at least months long, and perhaps years. If it's instant gratification you're after, there's always the Lamborghini Murciélago, the pricier Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and relative bargains like the Porsche 911 GT2 and GT3. But as good as these cars are, they just don't sound or feel quite like a Ferrari. The 2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano is worth both the price and the wait.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano comes solely as a two-seat coupe in one trim level. Standard equipment includes xenon headlights, 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels wearing 245/40 front and 305/35 rear performance tires, an adaptive suspension system, automatic dual-zone climate control, power front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a Bose audio system with a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer.
Optional features include front/rear park assist, heated front seats, carbon-fiber interior accents, a space-saver spare tire kit, run-flat tires, carbon-ceramic racing brakes and a six-piece fitted leather luggage set. Those seeking further distinction may request special interior and exterior colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The 599 GTB Fiorano's 6.0-liter V12 sends a colossal 612 hp and 448 pound-feet of torque to the rear tires via either a traditional six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed "F1" transmission. The F1 is an automated manual transmission with a single clutch, allowing drivers to choose between automatic and manual mode, the latter controlled by shift paddles mounted on the steering column. Ferrari claims the 599 Fiorano is capable of hitting 60 mph in less than 3.7 seconds and running up to a top speed of around 205 mph.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control are standard. Notably, side- and side curtain airbags are not available.
Interior Design and Special Features
Unlike supercars of old, the 2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano offers much more than a cramped cockpit with minimal accoutrements. The well-shaped seats are finished in premium hides, while aluminum accents enrich the ambience. Buyers can even choose a carbon-fiber steering wheel with integrated LEDs that move in lockstep with engine revs. Drivers can adjust the car's many interactive systems (such as stability control, suspension settings and F1 gearbox response) via a knob on the steering wheel called the "manettino" -- Italian for "little manager."
In addition to the expected pin-you-to-the-seat thrills, the 2008 Ferrari 599 GTB provides a soundtrack to savor. The unmistakable shriek of the V12 under hard acceleration changes to a guttural hum at part throttle and nearly disappears at high cruising speeds, where wind noise is practically the only indication of pace. The F1 gearbox provides instantaneous gearchanges that no human could hope to match.
In tight corners, the 599 GTB remains so flat and composed that the usual indicators of fast-approaching limits, such as body roll and tire squeal, are absent. Despite its track star handling, though, the 599's steering leaves a bit to be desired -- it's too light at higher speeds, where reassuring heft is desirable. The ratio also seems a touch slow for an exotic sports car, as tight cornering requires more hand movement than we'd expect. The semi-active suspension works miracles on nearly any surface, swallowing bumps without drama while keeping the car planted in all situations. The adjustable stability control has a "Race" setting for advanced drivers, but we think it could allow even more leeway.