2011 Ferrari SA Aperta
12-cyl. 5999cc/661hp BMI
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
When the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano appeared in 2006 as a 2007 model, it combined elegant and curvaceous bodywork with cutting-edge aerodynamics and the powerplant from the Enzo hypercar. The result was called the finest all-round Ferrari ever. Well, up to that point at least.
The Fiorano replaced the 575M Maranello and was powered by the Enzo’s 48-valve, 6.0-liter DOHC V-12, developing 612 bhp at 7600 rpm. Its redline was at a shrieking 8400 rpm. To top it off, the engine was eight percent lighter than the 575’s powerplant. The net result was 0-60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 205.
Named for Ferrari’s test track at Fiorano, the 599 wears a Pininfarina-designed body with Jason Castriota credited for some innovative details. While the flying buttresses were initially a styling feature, they were discovered to reduce lift by 100 pounds at high speed during wind tunnel tests. They also eliminated the need for a rear spoiler. The Fiorano’s underbody spoiler, venturi tunnels, and rear diffuser produce 350 pounds of downforce at 186 mph, increasing to 400 pounds by 200 mph.
A number of Formula 1 tweaks were applied to the new model including magnetic ride suspension, developed with Delphi. If that sounds familiar it’s because Corvette used the same technology. Each wheel is controlled by a shock filled with special fluid whose viscosity can be modified instantly by an electronically controlled magnetic field. As a sensor monitors each wheel’s movement, a computer reacts to road conditions and alters each shock absorber’s resistance in as little as a millisecond.
Even though a 6-speed manual gearbox was offered, all but about 30 of the 599’s 3500 buyers worldwide opted for the paddle-shifted F1 transmission. The sequential dual-clutch setup can shift electronically in about 50 milliseconds. For owners who don’t feel that energetic, the system can operate in full automatic mode.
Another innovation was an enhanced traction control system that can track individual wheel speeds and compare them to a stored vehicle-dynamics model. “F1-Trac” is engaged when in Sport and Race modes but the manettino (little lever) can be set to Low Grip or Ice settings, or to CST which switched off all the stability and traction control systems.
Road testers were thrilled with the 599. F1-Trac eliminated slipping and sliding even under enthusiastic driving and the first 20-inch wheels on a Ferrari were shod with Pirelli P Zeroes which gave plenty of control. Standard brakes were 13.9 inch front discs and 12.9 inches at the rear, but carbon-ceramic brakes were optional and larger at 15.7 inches up front and 14.2 inches behind.
Interior equipment and finish were top-notch, with a combination of analog gauges and LED screens. Buyers could choose aluminum or carbon fiber paddles, with electronic controls and a red start button held on the steering wheel. Dual climate controls faced power seats with electro-pneumatic side bolsters. Options included satellite navigation, and an 11-speaker Bose audio system. The trunk cam accommodate 11 cubic feet of luggage and fitted leather cases were available.
The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano’s price started at a $260,034 MRSP upon its introduction in 2007 and the price rose to $357,225 in 2011. Four variations were built, and several one-offs.
The 599 GTB HGTE (Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione) was an upgrade package in 2010. It included stiffer suspension, new settings for the Delphi magnetic shock absorbers and a larger roll bar. The ride height was lowered, and new wheels with stickier tires fitted. Gear shifts were made even quicker and the engine tweaked for faster response with a more exciting exhaust note. The 599 GTB HGTE’s price was $356,825.
In 2009 the track-only Ferrari 599XX was launched at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Ferrari's Formula 1 engineers aimed to make it more responsive. Details changes included winglets on the C-pillars to increase downforce, hood vents, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, and larger rear diffuser. The interior was stripped and analog gauges replaced by LEDs. A roll-bar and Lexan windows were fitted, while trunk fans sucked the car downwards at speed. The 599XX has nine suspension settings, while numerous carbon fiber items and steel modifications reduced weight. However, air conditioning was retained for driver comfort. The engine was boosted to 720 bhp at 9,000 rpm and Ferrari reported that a 599XX lapped the Nürburgring in a record 6 minutes and 58.16 seconds.
Ferrari followed the 599XX in 2010 with another road-going version called the 599 GTO. Claimed to be the company’s fastest-ever road car, the new GTO lapped the Fiorano circuit one second faster than the Enzo. With 661 bhp it can manage 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, with a top speed of 208 mph. Only 125 599 GTOs were destined for the U.S. market. Despite the name, the model was not homologated for any racing series. Base price for the 599 GTO was $416,550.
For 2011 Ferrari announced the 599XX Evoluzione, with a restyled aero and exhaust package, as electronic upgrades and racing slicks. It weighs 77 pounds less than the standard 599XX and has slightly more power at 730 hp. It was fitted with an active rear wing which adjusted automatically to improve cornering.
Other limited production 599 GTBs included the SA Aperta was launched in 2010 as a roadster version of the GTO with just 80 buit to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Pininfarina. The 599 GTB 60F1 was also introduced in 2011 to mark Ferrari’s 60 years of Formula 1 victories. It was based on the 599 HGTE with stiffer suspension.