Used 2011 Ferrari 599
Edmunds' Expert Review
With its free-revving V12 and racecar-like cornering capability, the 2011 Ferrari 599 GTB can match the world's best exotics for performance.
The 2011 Ferrari 599 seats only two people, achieves only 11 mpg in the city, has a dinky trunk and is stuck with woefully behind-the-times in-car electronics. Plus -- brace yourself for this one -- there's not even a cupholder. And with that we conclude the practicality-minded portion of our consumer advice program. If you care about any of the above, the Ferrari 599 clearly isn't the best way to spend your $300,000.
If, however, the above reads like a series of "blahs" upon "yada yadas," then you'll be interested to know that the 599 remains the pinnacle of the Ferrari lineup. It starts with the engine. Be it in GTB Fiorano guise or the new-for-2011 GTO, the 599's 6.0-liter V12 still blares its way to an 8,400 rpm redline with an intoxicating scream that must be heard in all its glory to be fully appreciated. The acceleration that accompanies that scream punches you into your seat with a fitting amount of brutality.
Around corners, the 599's superb handling belies its near-2-ton curb weight. Credit for this impressive talent goes to the sophisticated suspension with its Magna Ride active dampers that firm up in milliseconds in response to aggressive cornering, yet ease off for relaxed interstate cruising. It's this dual-natured performance that's a bit surprising, as Ferraris have seldom been considered comfortable enough for a good road trip (that's what an Aston Martin or Bentley is for).
If we were to nitpick, the GTB's steering could be sharper, especially at higher speeds. That's taken care of, however, in the 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO. Not only is the steering quicker and more communicative, but also the general handling balance has been improved and the entire car sharpened to be a more hard-core driving machine thanks to increased horsepower and reduced weight. Plus, since it, too, has Magna Ride dampers, the GTO maintains a reasonably civilized ride. Sure, it costs $90,000 more than the GTB Fiorano, but we suspect that will matter little to the prospective buyer.
Of course, there are other grand ways to spend one's portfolio. The Ferrari 458 Italia is utterly brilliant even if it doesn't come with the cachet of being Ferrari's most expensive, V12-powered GT halo car. Should you actually care about those practical gripes we mentioned above, Ferrari's new FF takes care of some of them -- just don't hold your breath about fuel economy.
Beyond those supercars wearing the prancing horse emblem, the Lamborghini Aventador brings an entirely different degree of drama -- both in terms of visuals and driving experience. The Aston Martin DBS and Lexus LFA are similar to the 599 in a number of (admittedly divergent) ways, but go about their business in manners more indicative of their native lands. For that quintessentially Italian passion, however, no GT car can top the 2011 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO.
2011 Ferrari 599 configurations
The 2011 Ferrari 599 is a two-seat coupe available in two trim levels: GTB Fiorano and the higher-performance GTO. Standard equipment on the GTB includes 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels shod in performance tires, xenon headlights, an adaptive suspension system, carbon-ceramic brakes, rear parking sensors, automatic dual-zone climate control, power seats, leather upholstery and interior trim, a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system and an eight-speaker Becker sound system with a CD player.
The optional HGTE package (Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione) specifies stiffer springs and a stiffer rear antiroll bar along with revised damper calibration, a lower ride height, a unique high-performance tire compound, quicker shifts from the single-clutch automated manual transmission, more immediate throttle response and a throatier exhaust note. HGTE also adds unique exterior and interior styling cues.
The GTO gains more power, enhanced suspension and steering, 20-inch wheels all around, a different transmission calibration, different exterior details, a carbon-fiber racing wheel with integrated LED shift lights (optional on GTB) and manually adjustable carbon-fiber racing seats. It lacks the standard rear parking sensors and navigation system, but both are optional. The standard full leather interior is swapped out for a lighter-weight combination of leather, faux suede and tech fabric.
Options on both models include different wheel designs, a space-saver spare tire, run-flat tires, front and rear parking sensors, tinted rear windows, fully powered Recaro sport seats, an iPod interface, a six-CD changer and a premium audio system. There is also a wealth of customization options, including innumerable exterior paint and interior leather color choices, extended interior leather trim, different leather seat finishes (GTB only), cross-stitching and two carbon-fiber interior trim packages. The GTO gets two-tone exterior paint schemes, additional sport seat choices and optional interior surfaces in multiple color choices of faux suede and/or leather.
Performance & mpg
Both 2011 Ferrari 599 models are rear-wheel drive and powered by a 6.0-liter V12. The GTB Fiorano version produces 612 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque. A traditional six-speed manual transmission is standard and a single-clutch six-speed automated manual transmission is an optional. Ferrari says the GTB Fiorano will go from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds. Fuel economy (as if you could possibly care) is 11 mpg city/15 mpg highway and 12 mpg combined.
The 599 GTO produces 671 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. The automated manual is standard, but upgraded for improved performance. Ferrari says it'll hit 62 mph in 3.4 seconds.
Carbon-ceramic antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control are standard. Notably, side and side curtain airbags are not available.
In addition to predictably brutal acceleration, the 2011 Ferrari 599 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 with the standard six-speed manual (GTB only), but its single-clutch design prevents it from being as tractable in low-speed traffic as the dual-clutch unit found in the Ferrari 458 Italia. A lack of a hill holder feature could also make the clutch awfully smelly and smoky when repeatedly starting from a stop on a hill. (We wouldn't recommend driving around San Francisco.)
In tight corners, the Ferrari 599 GTB remains composed and poised, without a hint of body roll or squealing tires. The adaptive suspension damping works miracles on nearly any surface, swallowing bumps without drama while keeping the car planted in all situations. It's hard to imagine improvement here, but the Ferrari 599 GTO is indeed an even more incredible driver's car. The steering is quicker and provides more immediate feedback, the transmission is even more reactive and the car is even more balanced and less likely to understeer than the GTB. This is a car that excels on a racetrack, yet thanks to those adaptive dampers, its on-road ride is surprisingly comfortable. If there is to be a major detractor, it would be the 599's size. This is a larger car than the brilliant Ferrari 458 Italia, and it feels it.
Unlike supercars of old, the 2011 Ferrari 599 offers much more than a cramped cockpit with minimal accoutrements. The well-shaped seats are finished in premium hides, or in the case of the GTO, a rich combination of leather, faux suede and a specially designed tech fabric. Aluminum and available carbon-fiber accents enrich the ambience further, while buyers can customize their 599 with two-tone color choices, contrasting stitching and different seat designs.
The car's many interactive systems (such as stability control, suspension settings and F1 gearbox response) can be adjusted via a knob on the steering wheel called the manettino -- Italian for "little manager." If you're looking for the latest infotainment electronics features, however, the 599 is behind the times. The navigation system offers a tiny, antiquated screen and there's no HD or satellite radio available. Still, do you really need 180 commercial-free channels when you have 612 raging horses screaming just a few feet in front of you?
Features & Specs
More About This Model
The mountain people gathered outside the trattoria. The school leaked adolescent boys. The thin man from the tire shop closed his door and walked down the cobbled hill. The old dowager bent steeply over her walking stick and hobbled over; those already assembled parted to allow her through.
They know their Ferraris up here in Zocca, perched high in the Apennine Mountains along the spine of Italy. They should, since Maranello is only a half hour away and the narrow, tortured road that leads here is a favorite of Ferrari test drivers.
The locals know instantly that the 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO parked with insouciance at the front door of the trattoria (at the pleading of the chef himself) is out of the ordinary. And they couldn't be more right.
This is the fastest road-going Ferrari ever built — a lightweight, V12-powered coupe that is a masterpiece of competition-style detailing. When told, there's an assembled intake of breath from the crowd.
Even the crooked old woman knows that this car is special, even for Ferrari.
Living Up to the Legend
Even almost 50 years later, the legend of the Ferrari 250 GTO endures, a story of dominance by an Italian sports car that has never been equaled and one still compelling even after all those Formula 1 championships.
The 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO also has its connection with the racetrack, as the car began as the 599XX, the track-only version of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano available for track-day hire by Ferrari clients at rates that would make you faint. And though the Ferrari 599 GTO is the street-legal version of the 599XX, Ferrari executives still expect this car to rarely stray from the confines of a racing circuit. And why not, since at Ferrari's test track at Fiorano, the 599 GTO is a second faster than the Ferrari F430 Scuderia, not to mention the mighty Ferrari Enzo.
As you'd expect, there's plenty of power, with the DOHC 5999cc V12 pumping out 671 horsepower at 8,250 rpm. There's also the sheer, crushing strength of 457 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm.
There's not much mass to move around, as the 3,538-pound GTO is 220 pounds lighter than a 599 GTB, thanks to thinner-gauge bodywork and thinner windows. Even the exhaust has been hydroformed to reduce wall thickness from 1.5mm to 0.8mm and thus shave away 29 pounds. Meanwhile, the interior has been stripped, while the aero additions are built from carbon fiber.
This car has been designed to get where it's going in a hurry. The single-clutch, automated manual transmission has shorter gear ratios than the conventional 599 and the shift intervals come at 60 milliseconds. The car's top speed is 208 mph, making this the fastest Ferrari street car ever.
Cockpit, Not Cabin
The lightweight carbon-clad door flings open to reveal a two-seat cabin stripped of its luxury. There's artificial suede instead of leather and the racing-style Sabarth seats have carbon-fiber shells. At the same time, the 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO has a radio, though plenty of people would consider any music other than that made by the V12 to be sacrilege. Aside from the air-conditioner (which is loud and struggles to keep the temperature down in the late spring heat), that's it for luxuries.
There's an old-fashioned ignition key for this old-fashioned, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe, and once you hit the start button on the steering wheel, the fuel pumps whirr for a long moment before the starter motor defeats the 11.9:1 compression ratio and the V12 lets loose a high, sharp raaap before settling down to a gentle idle. Of course, the gentleness of the idle depends on where you set the steering wheel's manettino. If the knob that determines the chassis calibration is on either Low Grip or Sport, it's a gentle idle. In Race, CT-off or CST-off modes, it's aggressive, eager.
It's a doddle to roll out of driveways despite the car's lower ride height, and the single-clutch automated manual lets you trickle around town with more dignity than robotized manuals usually allow. And so we're off.
It doesn't take much straight road to understand what they've done to the engine and gearbox. The first time you stand on the throttle, the gentle burble erupts into a ferocious, seamless howl of anger. There won't be a flurry of wheelspin or tire smoke, because the GTO is too sophisticated to think that's the fastest way. Once you've dialed up the launch-control mode, it will instead punch off the line with j-u-s-t a trace of wheelspin and, 3.4 seconds later, the car has smashed beyond 100 km/h (62 mph). Within 9.9 seconds, you're going 200 km/h (124 mph).
There's plenty of trickery within the engine to boost its output, notably a reduction in engine friction by 12 percent to create 16 hp out of nothing. The tiny piston skirts are coated in graphite; the cam lobes have a super-smooth finish and diamond-hard carbon coats the tappets. The crankshaft has been reshaped to reduce power-sapping turbulence in the crankcase and the aluminum intake manifold comes from the 599XX.
You might forget all of the engine technology every time you stand on the throttle, but with 8dBA more sound entering the cabin, you won't forget the 6-to-1 exhaust headers or the way the induction noise rises to keep pace with the exhausts as the revs climb.
Never Mind the Subtlety
The 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO has had all of the functions of its electronic safety net developed in unison with a new, faster ECU, so it feels especially precise and useful even when the electronics intervene. A second-generation carbon-ceramic braking system from Brembo matches the carbon-ceramic rotors with carbon-ceramic pads. Forget about subtlety, Ferrari's test drivers say; just stand hard on the pedal and keep pushing.
Out on the mountain passes, the GTO proves itself to be not only faster than the 599 but more stable as well. The way the rears hook up is ferocious and the grip at the front end feels unending. The GTO is not Porsche-like in the way it turns into corners, because the steering effort itself is too light and the feedback it gives feels reactive, rather than proactive. But the GTO is 20 percent quicker to react to the wheel than the 599 GTB Fiorano, and wherever you point it, the GTO goes.
Map all of this knowledge together, and the result is a mind-bending array of corner exit, short straight (no matter how long it actually is), a braking point much later than it looks and then enough midcorner grip to hurl the wax out of your ears. And the GTO does it all while throwing each of your senses into turmoil.
Your ears are assaulted, because the GTO attacks its rev limiter as though it would like nothing better than to smash it into oblivion for restraining this unburstable V12 masterpiece. Even as you're thrilling to the changes in timbre and tone and depth — from a profoundly deep bass at 2,000 rpm that promises impending violence to an irrepressible scream at 8,000 rpm — you're also marveling that the sound and vibration have an essential harmony. Meanwhile, you struggle in vain to keep everything in your peripheral vision from losing shape and dissolving into a mass of colors.
The Physical Dimension of Speed
It's your body that registers the lasting impression of the GTO's performance, and not just because the blistering acceleration is like a kidney punch every time you go near the throttle in the first three gears. Instead, it's the cornering grip. Few road cars have ever boasted so much, and it feels consistently available here, a virtue of the car's front-engine layout. Moreover, such a powerful braking system with the promise of consistency unaffected by heat also helps you to trust this astonishing missile, and the car rewards that trust with an agility that belies its size.
Out of the mountains and back at the Fiorano test track, it doesn't take long to figure out the usefulness of the Race mode for the chassis control. If you try to drive without the electronics, this car is a giggle generator, impossible to control. The absolute fastest way to drive the GTO is with the Race mode on, which opens up the bypass valve in the exhaust but moves the magnetorheological dampers, the brakes, the skid and traction control, the gearbox and the throttle settings to maximize every scrap of grip.
The Race mode makes the engine note drone dreadfully on a constant throttle and the chassis throws you around when it hops at the rear as the stability control fights for traction out of corners. The shifts come with ridiculous speed, but they can also hurt at low revs.
Altogether, the Race mode is simply magnificent on the track, with those astonishing Brembos laughing at the idea of fade and smashing the front aero splitter against the asphalt. So you tip it in toward the apex and the GTO snaps its head like a midengine car, and then you can just nail the throttle on the exit. If you're on the right line and steering smoothly, the F1-derived stability control will feed in exactly as much drive to the tires as they can handle. And you will not get out of corners any faster using your own judgment, even if you're Fernando Alonso himself.
It's the 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO. As in GTO. As in legend.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.
Used 2011 Ferrari 599 Overview
The Used 2011 Ferrari 599 is offered in the following submodels: 599 Coupe, 599 GTO. Available styles include GTO 2dr Coupe (6.0L 12cyl 6AM), and GTB Fiorano F1 2dr Coupe (6.0L 12cyl 6AM).
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Should I lease or buy a 2011 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.