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Ferrari 599 Fiorano HGTE review (2010 onwards)
Model: Ferrari 599 Fiorano HGTE
Bodystyle: Two-door coupé
Engine: 6.0-litre V12, petrol
Transmission: Six-speed automated manual, rear-wheel drive
What is it?
Time stands still for nobody, not least supercar builders. And the HGTE pack for the Ferrari 599 Fiorano helps the stunningly fast and beautiful coupé maintain its already razor sharp edge with a range of upgrades for chassis and drivetrain.
Of course, Ferrari has recently gone one better and announced the £299,280 599 GTO, harking back to the utterly gorgeous 250 GTO of the early 60s - still one of its most celebrated cars and one of the most collectable of all Ferraris.
For those who already own a 599, the HGTE pack - or allestimento Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione to give it its full name - can be retrofitted to an existing car or added as an option when buying a new one.
Adding just shy of £14,000 to the 599's £207,620 list price even those with the budget for a new Ferrari might consider that a bit steep. But if you're looking to have the sharpest 599 this side of a GTO it's an investment worth making.
Where does it fit?
That pricetag puts the 599 in pretty rarefied territory, a step above on-paper rivals such as the Aston Martin DBS - a snip at just £160K. The similarly priced Mercedes SLS would be another obvious alternative.
And the Mercedes, Aston and Ferrari all share a fundamentally similar mechanical layout, with front-mid mounted engines, gearboxes in the rear, seating for two and comparable on-road footprints in terms of size and width.
But the 571hp SLS and 510hp DBS have no answer to the 599's Enzo-derived V12 engine, which revs to a screaming 8,400rpm and boasts an incredible 620hp. 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds and 205mph top speed are in Murcielago territory too - this in a front-engined GT car.
Choosing the full HGTE package (you can pick and choose elements as required) gets you lashings of carbonfibre and/or Alcantara trimmings, faster-shifting gearbox, recalibrated suspension, unique 20-inch wheels and a louder exhaust system, among many additions.
Is it for you?
If you can afford it and have a taste for fast, exotic and beautiful cars what are you waiting for? Of course it is. Because in the 599 all the things we love about Ferrari come together in beautiful harmony.
It is, for instance, as fast as the ultra extreme Enzo around Ferrari's test track. But the 599 isn't an F1 inspired circuit wannabe. This is a proper, traditional GT with all that entails.
So it's beautiful to look at. Civilised when you're pottering around town. Refined enough on the motorway to put in the miles in comfort. But when you put your foot down you enter a whole new realm.
The sheer size is about the only intimidating thing about the 599. But you soon adapt to this and once you do your confidence in the rest of the package just grows and grows.
What does it do well?
You buy into the Ferrari ideal because you want a car that stirs your soul. And the 599 certainly achieves that. This isn't a car you can be ambivalent about, and nor would you want to be given how much it costs.
From that first press of the starter button it gets right under your skin, the motor spinning for a second before erupting with a gloriously anti-social flare of revs. Doesn't matter, there was no point trying to melt into the background anyway.
Though docile at low speeds there's a no nonsense brutality to the way the gearbox engages that lets you know you're in something serious. Ferrari's heart has always been on the track and it shows, even in this front-engined GT.
Anyone who spends their Sundays glued to F1 coverage will therefore appreciate the significance of the 0.6 seconds the HGTE pack buys around the famous Fiorano test track after which the 599 is named.
Doesn't sound like much but in F1 terms that's the difference between pole position and mid-field obscurity. Thankfully this sharpened track edge for the 599 doesn't come at the expense of on-road usability.
The 599 is fast in a way no rival can touch. It makes an Aston DBS feel as potent as a Mondeo diesel, the power immense in its delivery all the way to 8,400rpm, the last few hundred rpm positively terrifying in their intensity.
Pull the right shifter paddle at this point in the Race mode and even though the shift takes just 85 milliseconds your head thwacks into the headrest so hard you expect to climb out with an imprint of the embroidered HGTE logo in the back of your skull. And the speed doesn't let up.
The chassis is simply sublime, the damping really showing Ferrari's class. Bumps and intrusions thump through the structure but body control is fluid, beautifully controlled and utterly confidence inspiring. Put simply it makes you feel like a driving god.
What doesn't it do well?
It's impossible to keep a low profile in a car like the 599, which, for many, is exactly the point. But celebrity status brings with it pitfalls and there are times you'd wish people would just stop staring and leave you be.
And the 599 is just so utterly, ludicrously fast it makes a complete mockery of any notion of keeping to the speed limit. And you can only get away with this for so long.
What's it like to live with?
Physically huge, the 599 is nonetheless a strict two-seater so it's you, the beautiful companion of your choosing and enough space for their luggage for a weekend away at a suitably glamorous destination. And no more. Shucks.
The width is a factor when squeezing along busy city streets but other than that the 599 is very easy to live with day-to-day. Though beautifully engineered you can't escape the sense it's not quite as bulletproof as a Mercedes SLS though.
How green is it?
Forget it. 415g/km puts it in with the very worst of the big polluters and the 599 drains its 105-litre fuel tank in less time than is strictly polite. But, hey, it's a 200mph-plus supercar.
Ferrari has shown a hybrid concept 599, known as the HY-KERS. Inspired by the F1 'power boost' technology it slashes CO2 emissions by a third and is even quicker. But it's some way off production yet.
Would we buy it?
There's no point trying logical arguments of cost, practicality and thirst when assessing a car like the Ferrari 599. So we won't bother. And instead celebrate what has to be one of the most accomplished road cars Ferrari has ever made.
The HGTE pack simply sharpens this edge further, bringing renewed focus to an already unbelievably honed package. It does it without compromising comfort significantly and makes the 599 even more desirable than before. Yes, of course we'd buy it.
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