Given that the weight has tumbled by 270kg to a scant 1430kg without fuel, it’s not surprising to find that performance is well beyond outrageous. Think 0-60mph in “less than 2.9sec” and a top speed restricted by the gearing to 196mph.
What defines the 599XX as something entirely separate from, and above, any regular production Ferrari is not its engine, however, or its savage performance.
Instead it is its package of electronic driver aids, and its 22nd-century aero package, both of which work in blissful harmony to make the car so very quick across the ground.
In the boot there are a pair of fans than suck air away from the rear diffuser when it isn’t needed, towards the small-ish rear wing. On the rear haunches there are winglets that also channel air towards the wing, thereby creating as much downforce as possible, without producing extra drag. Even the rear light sockets contain little air jet pumps that send pulses through the air as it flows away from the tail, again reducing drag and, somehow, increasing downforce.
And then there are the driver aids; the new twin Mannetino switches, one with nine different traction control settings, another with three different magnetic suspension settings, both of which are designed not to cocoon the 599XX driver in a safety net but to make them capable of driving their car as fast as possible, as often as possible.
Yes, the electronics in this car are specifically intended as performance parts, not safety features. Switch them off and you will not be able to lap a circuit as fast as you can with them on, not even if your name is Fernando Alonso. You might just be able to match the system for a couple of corners if you fluke the perfect sequence of brake, turn-in, balance power, apply throttle at the exit.
But over an entire lap, no; the electronics will win every time. This is not the case with any of the company’s production cars, all of which are quicker with their TC and stability systems switched off.
I drove the car at Vallelunga circuit, near Rome, and it was nowhere near long enough; you could drive this car all day, all week, and still want more. But it was sufficient time behind the wheel to realise that, for its audience, the 599XX has a very clear purpose in life. Not just as a development platform for future technology, some of which will appear on a new rumoured GTO version of the 599 later this year, but also as a means of providing unmatched thrills and driving dynamics for a front-engined GT car. For pretty much any car, come to think of it.
The way you can throw the thing at a corner and then let the electronics guide you through, without them ever feeling intrusive or irritating, is genuinely astonishing. Once you reach the middle of a corner you can, once you’re used to the way the system works, open up the throttle 100 per cent and simply wait for it to decide when there’s enough traction to actually deliver full throttle.
Get really used to the way it works and you dial down the level of assistance and perform perfect drifts, with none of the terror normally associated with throwing a 722bhp car sideways, just lots of excitement. And a very great deal of performance to go with it.
Should I buy one?
The 599XX is a very special project car from Ferrari, and whoever ends up owning one of these cars will obviously need to be very wealthy indeed. They will also be invited to take part in the project, and also to three free private test sessions per year, during which they will be asked to provide feedback on the car.
It’s a very rich man’s toy, the 599XX, but it’s some toy. They key thing about it, though, is that is so much as a quarter of the tech contained therein finds its way into future production Ferraris, we’re in for a absolute treat. And that may happen somewhat sooner than you think.