From £205,788
UK drive proves hardcore package is still manageable

Our Verdict

Ferrari 599
We’ll spare the 911 Turbo the ignominy of comparison times, because the Ferrari has moved the game onto another level

The Ferrari 599 offers mind-blowing pace and handling. Quite possibly the best Ferrari of its generation

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19 April 2009

What is it?

Regular Ferrari 599 GTB not quite hardcore enough for you? This is the Ferrari 599 HGTE option package, comprising a raft of suspension changes aimed at making it a sharper and keener drive. The key letter in the package is H, for Handling. GT is for, er, GT, and E for Evoluzione.

The changes incorporate stiffer springs, 17 per cent at the front and 15 per cent at the rear, which also lower the ride height by 10mm, while there's a stiffer rear anti-roll bar and a softer compound for the Pirelli P Zero tyres. They run on marginally wider wheels at the front, though the tyres themselves are no wider. There's a tad extra camber, too, and revised calibration on the magnetic dampers.

See the Ferrari 599 GTB HGTE video here

An extra sprinkling of carbonfibre makes its way into the cabin, including for the shells of two brilliantly supportive new seats, but there's little inside you couldn't tick on the options list of a standard 599.

Power remains unchanged at 611bhp, which we've always found ample.

All in, the HGTE package adds around £14,000 to the 599's list price.

What's it like?

There's not a lot wrong with the way a regular Ferrari 599 goes down the road, but the thinking behind the HGTE pack is still sound. The idea is to reduce pitch and roll, increase grip and traction, and generally make the car more controllable and exploitable to drive fast. Some comfort will inevitably be lost, and likewise some tyre life, but Ferrari reckons the 599 has some of each to spare.

Mooch around town in the Ferrari 599 HGTE and it does feels mildly less supple than a regular 599, though it retains an ability to shrug off surface imperfections better than most high-powered GTs or supercars. This isn't a Scuderia or GT3 kind of job; it has a broader spectrum of ability that covers the UK's peculiar road conditions, too. Yes, on the worst B-roads that Surrey has to offer it jiggles you around in the (fabulously supportive) driver's seat a little more than ideal, but that's teh worst of it.

The HGTE's set-up is stiffer than a regular 599's, but it still doesn't skip or shimmy. I reckon the Ferrari 599 HGTE matches superior body control over the regular 599 with a deftness and delicacy that, say, faster Porsche 911s can't match.

Which you'd prefer – the 599 HGTE or a Porsche 911 GT2 – is partially a matter of personal preference, but while a GT2's pace and hardcore, nailed-down focus is compelling, the 599 blends just as much ground-covering ability with what feels like a more supple and composed chassis.

On a track the 599 HGTE is beautifully balanced, too. At times with a regular 599, the body movements under swift manoeuvres make you feel like you're hanging on a little while it dictates things. The HGTE package makes the 599 more approachable; it gives you more confidence get close to its exceptional limits and to push on the throttle harder, for longer.

Should I buy one?

The HGTE package adds an extra dose of keenness and controllability to the 599 at the expense of what seems like precious little. Up until we drove this car, we rated the regular 599 as the best GT/supercar you could buy. The HGTE package has done nothing to change that. Ferrari expects 40 percent of 599 buyers to take up the HGTE package, maybe more in the UK. On the basis of our drives in Europe, in the UK and on track, we don't think they'll regret it. It's a finely judged package, and a fabulous one even in the UK.

Join the debate


19 April 2009

[quote Autocar]Regular Ferrari 599 GTB not quite hardcore enough for you?[/quote] No it was fine! It wasn't rubbish. It didn't need improving in the slightest. Another car not needed to be made. It's predictably going to be expensive like all sport cars. So it maybe brilliant but hey the old one was hardly seen on the road. It's not going to make this one go on the road. Utterly pointless like the X6.

19 April 2009

In reality, this extremely wide Ferrari is useless on our narrow roads. A Ford Focus RS would leave it for dead.

19 April 2009

Does anyone think having "Handling GTE" embroidered into the seat backrest is a tiny bit naff, a little bit chav, why not "my dick is bigger and more expensive than your dick"

20 April 2009

Another way of getting an extra £15k out of Ferrari buyers, they could have just made ths a facelift model, but now it's a pack it'll need paying for - I'm not the biggest fan of the 599's looks, but I'm sure loyal owners will be happy buyers.

20 April 2009

Lovely stuff. GT2 twin test soon please.

20 April 2009

I'm sure it drives nice, but it looks like shit. If I had the money to blow on a sports car, I'd buy a Lambo!

21 April 2009

[quote Topkat]

I'm sure it drives nice, but it looks like ***. If I had the money to blow on a sports car, I'd buy a Lambo!


I's agee the current Murcielago looks better, but is a very old design - I can't wait to see the new one next yr. As for Ferrari, I'm looking forward to the F450 - the image on AE looked great!

21 April 2009

Sorry I just want to know is it better to have post rank 5 or post rank 30?

21 April 2009

[quote aceman]It's predictably going to be expensive like all sport cars. So it maybe brilliant but hey the old one was hardly seen on the road. It's not going to make this one go on the road. [/quote]

Yes, I see these at least weekly on the road. As I've said before, it just depends where you live. In certain places these, and F430s, Gallardos, Murcielagos and more are, if not commonplace, then a frequent sight.

21 April 2009

Another car not needed to be made. It's predictably going to be expensive like all sport cars. So it maybe brilliant but hey the old one was hardly seen on the road.

Yes, yes it was, I saw at least 3 just this past weekend. Was more touched by seeing a 575 Superamerica though...


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