There are the quick cars – those that nip below 10 seconds to 100mph, such as the Lamborghini Gallardo. Then there are the very quick cars, which post 0-100mph times beginning with an eight. But anything under eight seconds belongs to an elite group, and in gaining such membership, the Ferrari 599 has shaken the establishment like nothing in the past 20 years. Its 7.4sec average matches the time we recorded for the Pagani Zonda S. Rest to 60mph takes just 3.7sec.
The 599's overall statistics are most extraordinary in the context of its usability. Within this is an engine of staggering character and civility. It is as mechanically refined as the best luxury car V12 installations. It also pulls from idle to 8400rpm with no perceptible peaks or troughs.
The transmission isn’t entirely successful, though. Full-speed upshifts in sport and race mode are impressive, but it doesn’t always match engine and gear speed perfectly on the way down.
The fixed Manettino settings – which translate roughly into snow, winter, sport and race – hamper the car’s ability in the UK. It is suggested that sport mode is best for everyday driving; this gives the fastest gearshifts, the middle of three damper settings and allows some slip before the stability/traction control system shuts the throttle or brakes an individual wheel.