2007 Ferrari 599 Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Blistering performance, corners like a racecar but provides a comfy ride when not being pushed hard, daily driver livability.
- Exorbitant price, long waiting lists, steering can seem a bit slow in tight corners or too light at ultra-high speeds.
A 200-mph exotic that is ferocious when you want it to be and docile when you need it to be, the 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano is the ideal supercar.
The challenge put to the engineering team on the 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano was lofty: Surpass the performance of the legendary Ferrari F40 while simultaneously providing the refined, daily driver livability of the outgoing 575M Maranello. Getting a man to the moon might have been an easier task.
Somehow, Ferrari has been able to pull it off. As with the 575, the new 599 GTB Fiorano has a V12 engine positioned ahead of the passenger compartment. With styling penned by Pininfarina, the 599 resembles the 612 Scaglietti in front but then goes its own way with its rising haunches, flying-buttress roof pillars and assortment of air intakes and extractors. Underneath, the 599 shares the new architecture that Ferrari uses on the 612 Scaglietti, meaning light yet strong all-aluminum space frame construction. Extra effort went into weight optimization, with the 599's mass being centralized for better handling responsiveness.
Considering that there's 612 horsepower propelling a relatively svelte 3,722 pounds, the weight to power ratio of the 599 GTB stands at 6.1 pounds per hp. That's a stunning number that soundly bests that of street legal, but cramped and thinly disguised racecars such as the Lotus Exige. Ferrari claims a 3.7-second 0-62-mph (100 km/h) time and, without the need for a gaudy rear wing or blocky front airdam, a top speed in excess of 200 mph. A sophisticated suspension features magnetic dampers that firm up in milliseconds in response to aggressive cornering, yet soften up for relaxed interstate cruising, allowing the 599 GTB to serve up both thrills and comfort when needed.
Of course, none of this comes cheap. Ferrari's asking $320,000, and the company is not only getting it, it's getting enough demand that the waiting list for the car can stretch into the "years" category. And that's if you're already a Ferrari-owning customer. If one simply can't wait that long to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on a car, there's the Lamborghini Murcielago (which offers the security of all-wheel drive), the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (but which lists for around $200K more than the 599) or even the 599's sibling, the 612 Scaglietti (which offers four-seat practicality). But the latter consideration hardly comes into play for shoppers in this segment. Ferrari F40 performance from a comfortable V12-powered GT? We know where we'd be spending our lottery winnings.
2007 Ferrari 599 models
The 2007 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.
Performance & mpg
A 6.0-liter V12 that produces 612 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque powers the 599 Fiorano. That prodigious output is sent to the rear tires via either a traditional six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed "F1" transmission. The F1 is a manual transmission with an automated clutch. Drivers can choose a fully automatic shifting mode or manually select gears via steering-wheel-mounted paddles. 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. Side- and side-curtain airbags are not available, as Ferrari claims that the 599 provides excellent protection without needing them.
In addition to the expected pin-you-to-the-seat thrills, the 599 GTB provides a soundtrack that should please hard-core enthusiasts. 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 the only indication of pace. The F1 gearbox provides "blink of an eye" changes that no human could hope to match.
The 599 GTB remains so flat while cornering and so glued to the road that all the usual indicators (body roll, tire squeal, sliding) of a car approaching (or exceeding) its limits are virtually erased. The only method to determine the traction envelope is by gauging neck muscle strain under hard braking and cornering. But despite its track star handling, the 599's steering leaves a bit to be desired -- it's too light at ultra-high speeds, where more heft is reassuring. 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 and imparting a feel of being planted to the road at all times. The adjustable stability control has a "Race" setting that we feel should allow a little more leeway for an advanced driver, though most buyers will never approach those limits that we probed on Ferrari's test track during our experience with the 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB.
Unlike ultra-performance cars of old, the 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano offers much more than a sparsely finished cockpit with a minimum of luxury features. 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.
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More About This Model
It's difficult to discuss a Ferrari without a twinge of reverent nostalgia. In some cases, blind praise for all things red and Italian has been misplaced, but in other ones, the superlatives and hyperbole are well-deserved. That said, the 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano will go down in history as one of the greatest Ferrari road cars ever. There, we said it.
Rated at 612 horsepower, the 3,722-pound 599 GTB rivals many barely legal, slightly disguised racecars with its 6.1-pound/hp weight-to-power ratio. Launched properly and shifted via the improved F1-Superfast six-speed transmission, Ferrari claims a 3.7-second 0-to-62 mph (100 km/h) time. The wind-tunnel-tested Pininfarina-sculpted body and undercarriage produce more than 400 pounds of downforce at 186 mph on the way to a claimed top speed in excess of 200 mph. The optional carbon-ceramic brake discs look like they came directly from a Le Mans racer. The semiactive suspension works miracles on nearly any surface. Yet the two-seat coupe can be driven comfortably, safely and with confidence all day, every day while it carries 11.3 cubic feet of luggage -- custom-tailored, if you wish.
While the car hides a wealth of trickle-down racing technology, it also pampers like a luxury Grand Tourer. Latent fury, dormant volatility, elegant violence all sum up the newest creation from the dedicated marque that's about to enter its 60th year. For between $250,000 and $260,000 and after a two-year wait, you, too, could enjoy one of the world's most advanced and coveted cars.
In the Ferrari tradition
In the richest Ferrari tradition, the "Cheen-quay, no-vay, no-vay, Gran Turismo Berlinetta Fiorano" (599 GTB Fiorano) showcases the classic front-engine V12 rear-drive configuration that began with the very first production car to bear the founder's name in 1947. While that formula has more or less remained, Enzo himself may never have been able to fathom to what extreme it would one day be exploited in the 599 GTB.
Or maybe he did. Writ large below a smiling portrait of Enzo Ferrari on a poster in one of the trackside briefing rooms deep within the company's Maranello, Italy testing facility called Pista di Fiorano (track of Fiorano) is a quote that reads, "...if I had to say that when I started, I thought of making more than just one car, I would be lying." It is with this dedicated stance that each Ferrari seems to be conceived, designed and built; as if each creation is to be the first and last car to ever bear the name Ferrari. Each car represents the absolute best the legendary maker can produce at that time (cost no object), but at the same time, leaves the door open for yet unimagined improvements. Such is the case with the 599 GTB Fiorano.
The challenge put to the engineering team on the 599 GTB was to surpass the brutal performance of the twin-turbocharged midengine F40 supercar (1987-1992), never mind the 575M Maranello, which the 599 GTB technically replaces. Once the undisputed supercar of record, the F40 remains on many (published and personal) lists as one of the best performance cars of all time. Does the 599 eclipse the F40? We have to take Ferrari's word for it because the carmaker didn't provide us a side-by-side comparison drive, but it appears so.
The power of Enzo
Contrary to an earlier Inside Line prediction, the 5,999cc/612-hp V12 that sits deep under the hood of the aluminum space-framed 599 GTB is not an evolution of the 5,748cc/508-hp V12 found in the nose of a 575M. Under the guidance of Ferrari powertrain director Jean-Jacque His (former Formula 1 engine guru), the "6.0-liter" 65-degree V12 from the million-dollar Enzo supercar has been evolved, refined and tamed for everyday road-car use. The Enzo's engine produces 650 hp at 7,800 rpm, whereas the one in the 599 GTB makes 612 hp at 7,600 rpm (with an 8,400-rpm redline). That's hardly tame, and according to Ferrari, it's the most powerful naturally aspirated two-seat production road car in the world (the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren has a 617-hp supercharged V8).
Another goal His set was to tune the intake and exhaust for resonant effect, but to reduce unwanted mechanical noise at the same time. Mission accomplished. The unmistakable 12-cylinder shriek of the V12 under hard acceleration changes to a guttural hum at part throttle and nearly disappears at cruising speeds where wind noise is the only indication of pace. With 11 airflow paths through and around the car helping to create the discernable downforce, it seems only natural to hear the wind rushing over the car when traveling over 100 mph.
Next to the smooth, well-maintained autostrade, Italian roads are notoriously inconsistent. Our drive route took us up the historic 2,400-foot hill climb from Fornovo di Taro to Berceto. It was here, in 1919, that Enzo Ferrari entered his first race, the "Parma Poggio di Berceto Hill Climb," and earned 12th place overall and 3rd in class -- years before he built his own car. Tight, bumpy unguarded switchbacks are set apart by several long sweepers where the 599 GTB could exploit its engine and semiactive suspension, a Ferrari production car first. Co-developed with Delphi, the magnetorheological dampers are similar to those used on some Corvettes; however, the software that controls them is unique to Ferrari, which owns the specific programming for two years.
In lay terms, the dampers contain a fluid which can change viscosity (from more watery to more syrupy) in the presence of an electric current, rather than relying on the single viscosity of oil. Four sensors mounted to each suspension control arm report individual wheel movements, which are processed in one millisecond (0.001 second). In turn, the processor sends an electronic charge to the dampers, which react in 10 milliseconds, or about four times quicker than a traditional oil-filled shock absorber. Compared to the traditional suspension in the 575M, Ferrari says the average variation in vertical wheel movements on undulating roads (or caused by hitting a pothole) is decreased by 30 percent, while the vertical acceleration felt by the driver through the steering wheel or seat bottom is reduced by 10 percent.
In other words, the car reads the road and reacts with an appropriate amount of damping to reduce harshness. And it works. We've driven this same stretch of road in both a 575M and an F430 and we would've guessed (incorrectly) that the route had been repaved.
Of course, there are other benefits from the new suspension that can be observed on the racetrack. The Fiorano circuit is a demanding 1.9-mile, 15-turn course used by Ferrari to test both racecars and production cars alike. Yes, one M. Schumacher holds the lap record. Each section of track has a purpose. For example, one area checks the drivability of the engine out of a corner, while another measures the ability of a car to turn while under braking; yet another shows how well a car soaks up undulations while at maximum lateral G-forces.
The new suspension on the 599 GTB Fiorano is almost too good in this dynamic laboratory. The car remains so flat while cornering and so connected to the surface that all the usual indicators (body roll, tire squeal, sliding) of a car "being out of shape" are virtually erased. We found the only method to determine the traction envelope was by gauging neck muscle strain under braking and cornering.
Excessive wheelspin out of corners is quashed by Ferrari's new "F1-Trac" traction control system, which limits the engine's torque output by first cutting spark, then throttle. With the 599's steering-wheel-mounted "manettino" vehicle controller switch set to "RACE" mode, we found the traction control system useful, but ultimately not as pleasurable as regulating wheelspin with one's own organic gray-matter traction control when the system is shut off.
With 90 percent of the engine's total 448 lb-ft of torque available at a mere 3,500 rpm, the 599's ability to light the specially designed Pirelli P Zero tires (305/35ZR20) ablaze is expected. However, with the engine's low reciprocating mass and high compression ratio, it's relatively easy to breathe off the throttle just enough to keep an exact amount of spin or grip. Who knew a 600-plus-horsepower V12 would be so tractable and responsive to pedal modulation?
As the track opens up to its longest 0.48-mile straight, we could sample the improved F1-SuperFast paddle shifter (a traditional six-speed manual transmission is also available). As with other F1-equipped Ferraris (almost 90 percent), the car has a true "manual" transmission but there's no clutch pedal. In simple terms, the paddles (right shifts up, left shifts down) actuate the clutch electronically and the gears shift hydraulically. Depending on throttle position and vehicle mode, the system automatically adjusts clutching smoothness and shift speed.
At its most aggressive, the 599 GTB's F1-SuperFast transmission is able to shift gears in 100 milliseconds (0.1 second), compared to the 575M's 250 ms, or even the F430's 150 ms. To put this in perspective, current Formula 1 racecars shift in about 50 ms. The biggest complaints we've had with so-called "auto-clutch manual" gearboxes (as in BMW's SMG or Lamborghini's e-gear) is that the faster the shifts occur, the harsher the resulting whiplash from the dip in the acceleration curve. Now, Ferrari has not only the quickest shifter, but the smoothest as well. They've figured out a way to overlap the clutching and shifting tasks to reduce harshness and shift time simultaneously. From the pit wall, the 599 sounds like an F1 racecar as it pops off upshifts in a tenth of a second. From inside the car, the only indication that an upshift has occurred is the drop in engine rpm because your neck muscles don't have enough time to relax between shifts. The only transmission that rivals the F1-SuperFast in terms of seamlessness is VW/Audi's DSG double-clutcher.
Those two freckles
OK, so what's not to love about the otherwise stunning 599 GTB Fiorano? They're small complaints, but they may mean something to those few fortunate people (250 per year after November 2006) who will ever drive one.
First, the steering weight is out of whack with the rest of the car. At 160 mph on the autostrada, the steering wasn't nailed down tight like it would be in, say, a Porsche on the autobahn. If I'm going transcontinental, I don't want to be steering down a straightaway at triple digits with feather-light steering. There should be an exponential increase in the amount of resistance to errant input at that speed. Despite the 599 GTB's rather quick steering ratio (13.5:1), we found an unexpected amount of steering input was required to drive through tighter turns at Fiorano (turns 9 and 13); almost needing to un-hand the wheel and grab again. This understeering effect might be a result of the car's long-ish wheelbase, front axle weight, and relatively narrow-width of its 245mm front tires, compared to a similarly endowed car that comes to mind -- the Corvette Z06. A possible solution to both idiosyncrasies would be to reduce the diameter of the steering wheel, making it physically harder to turn and more "flickable" in either direction.
The second blemish, and we blush to even call it that, is that the "RACE" mode on the manettino summons too much nannying, or control over the car through stability control and traction control. We had expected the F1-Trac and RACE-spec stability to be far more lenient than it was. Instead of coming on like a dimmer switch making minute adjustments/corrections, both the traction and stability controls behaved more like an on/off light switch. Sure, the RACE mode allows some oversteer out of a corner and even recognizes corrective countersteering input, but the safety systems intervene just at the point where a skilled driver could manage to pilot the car even quicker and more adeptly. Once we had moved the selector to CST (control of stability and traction) off, the car came to life as if it just had its lungs filled with oxygen. "Ah-ha!" I exclaimed to myself on the last lap of the day. The car was alive and managing to do exactly as I conducted it to do, and with confidence and authority.
If the "SPORT" settings were replaced with those from the "RACE" mode, and a decidedly more permissive set of parameters were written for "RACE," the top of the 599's performance envelope still would be secure while offering track-day participants room to play in relative safety. For the rest of the millionaires, the settings are appropriate to protect the quarter-million-dollar investment. There, that's it: light/slow steering and a somewhat conservative "RACE" mode. Hardly the kind of criticism the best Ferrari road car of all time deserves.
Used 2007 Ferrari 599 Overview
The Used 2007 Ferrari 599 is offered in the following submodels: 599 Coupe. Available styles include GTB Fiorano F1 2dr Coupe (6.0L 12cyl 6AM), and GTB Fiorano 2dr Coupe (6.0L 12cyl 6M). The Used 2007 Ferrari 599 comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automated manual, 6-speed manual.
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Should I lease or buy a 2007 Ferrari 599?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.