What is it?
The car you are looking at is, no more and certainly no less, the fastest, most powerful road car that Ferrari has ever built. It’s called the 599 GTO, it costs £299,280 and it takes the idea of the front-engined V12 GT car to an entirely new level dynamically.
Thanks to an exhaustive program of upgrades not just to its engine, gearbox and chassis but also its braking system, aerodynamics and electronics, the 599 GTO can lap Ferrari’s test track at Fiorano faster than an Enzo. Yet it is also, says Ferrari, more fuel efficient and cleaner than a regular 599 GTB – and at the same time provides a level of driver interaction that has never before been available on a production Ferrari.
Essentially a road legal version of the extraordinary 599XX, the GTO features numerous engineering aspects that were pioneered on its track-only ancestor that we drove exclusively in March. The V12 engine, just like that of the XX, has been “super-polished” internally and features “diamond-like-carbon” coating on its hydraulic tappets which increases its overall efficiency (compared with the GTB unit) by an impressive 12 per cent.
It also has a new six-into-one exhaust manifold and a completely revised intake system that helps it sound both louder and “even more magnificent” from inside the cockpit while still conforming to Euro 5 and LEV2 homologation standards.
The headline power and torque figures make impressive enough reading on their own; the GTO’s 5999cc V12 produces a whopping 671bhp at 8250rpm and 457lb ft at 6500rpm, up from 612bhp and 448lb ft in the GTB. Combine this with a full 100kg weight reduction and you begin to realise how potent a machine the 1605kg GTO really is.
What’s it like?
Climb aboard, hunker down into its high-backed bucket seat and the sense of purpose inside the GTO is almost overwhelming. From its carbon fibre instrument surrounds to its drilled alloy pedals and its 10,000rpm rev counter, it feels every inch like a road legalized racing car inside. There’s even a row of Christmas tree lights atop the steering wheel to remind you when to shift up.
When you do finally fire it up, the noise made by the GTO’s 6.0-lire V12 is so complex, and so rich, you could happily sit there and listen to it at idle all day long. But it sounds even better on the move, under load, screaming up its vast rev range through second, then third, then fourth – almost as quickly as you can read this sentence.
The acceleration this car can summon, and the noise it generates whilst doing so is actually quite uncomfortable to begin with when experienced within the confines of a public road. In fifth gear it feels as potent as a 911 does in third, and in second it’s just crackers fast.
Yet somehow Ferrari has managed to build a car that doesn’t just surround but does full justice to this incredible engine. The GTO rides almost as well as it handles if you play around with its various manettino settings; it also steers every bit as brilliantly as it stops, and it changes gear just as incisively as it turns in.
As a whole it feels entirely different from, and vastly superior to, the regular 599 GTB in every way dynamically. Ferrari is not exaggerating in any way when it describes the GTO as a road legal version of the 599XX – as opposed to an uprated version of the GTB. And that makes GTO something of a bargain at a mere £300k – compared with £1.2m for the XX.