Ferrari’s latest supercar delivers ultimate performance and luxury

--From Apex Marketing Strategy

It isn’t often that someone offers to let me drive their 612 horsepower supercar, much less one delivered within the last 24 hours. Evidently, my clean living has finally paid off, because this is exactly what I get to do.

Today I’m meeting a Puget Sound-area enthusiast to test out his 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, a brand new model bearing the name of the company’s Maranello test track. It is the latest in a classic line of high-performance front-engine sports GT vehicles that includes icons like the 212 Inter, 250GT SWB, 275 GTB/4 and 365 GTB/4 Daytona.

As the car pulls into the parking lot, I am immediately struck by how different the 599 appears in the flesh compared to its pictures. Many enthusiasts and journalists (including me) questioned the 599's looks based on photos, but I am happy to report that the car is amazingly elegant and muscular. Pictures simply do not pick-up the intricate details, such as chiseled rear buttresses and wheel wells that add to the overall muscular stance.

The Rubino (ruby red) paint is deeper than Lake Tahoe and more vibrant than a Wall Street bar at happy hour. As impressive as the aluminum body is, the underside is even more extraordinary. Air dams, diffusers and other trick designs make this car one of the most aerodynamically stable cars in history.

Unlike Ferraris of the past, there’s no need to drop, tilt, spin, hover and shimmy to get behind the controls on this car...just sit and throw the legs around. Even a lady in a skirt can enter and exit gracefully. Buckets are extremely supportive, but headroom still is a tad tight for those of us who shop in the XL-Tall racks.

The interior looks fantastic. Carbon fiber and aluminum accents are everywhere. Circular vents appear to have been frenched-in like hot-rod taillights. Even the switchgear adheres to visual trends without sacrificing ergonomic quality.

I face a large yellow-faced tachometer in the center of the cluster, which is flanked by a traditional white-on-black 220 mph speedometer and a computer screen displaying information like fuel and coolant temperature. Absent from the console is the traditional metal shift gate. The 599 uses the race-bred sequential manual box, which is shifted manually via paddles sprouting from behind the steering wheel… or by the car in its fully automatic mode.

Pushing the red steering wheel-mounted “Engine Start” button fires up the 5.99 liter V12 with little fanfare. Engine idle is quiet. We pull into traffic in automatic transmission mode and find the car as relaxing and quiet as a Lexus.

Turn the steering wheel-mounted switch to race setting and the whole character changes. Under full throttle the V12 derived from the Enzo brings its 612 hp and 448 lb-ft of torque online. Exhaust butterfly valves open to emit a symphonic crescendo. Tugging the right paddle brings jolting upshifts near the 8250 rpm redline. Before we know it, the speedo reads 130 mph, but the feeling of stability exceeds any standard commuter car at 45 mph.

We stop to test 0-60. Squeezing the throttle to the floor, the car’s massive tires bite and launch us like the Millennium Falcon hitting hyperspace. Even with two people in the car and cold tires, the accelerometer reads just 3.55 seconds – almost a full second faster than a Hemicuda or L88 Corvette could do it. It’ll also do the quarter mile in 11.3 and top out at 205 mph, but neither I nor the owner care to be read The Riot Act by our wives for testing these numbers ourselves!

The 599 GTB isn’t a handful in corners like big block American muscle either. The steering wheel feels great in my hand, and unlike Ferraris of yesteryear, the effort is light at slow speeds and stiffens up as the car accelerates. DB Cooper is easier to find than body roll in corners. Credit the 50-50 weight balance generated from pushing the engine well behind the front wheels…making the car classify as front-mid-engine.

With such elegance, comfort and ease of driving, sports car purists could easily accuse the 599 GTB of lacking a Y-chromosome. While it delivers plenty of feel, it isn’t raw like classic exotics.

Grab the reigns, plant the throttle and the 599 GTB delivers all the goods – and then some. It just might be the best multi-purpose sports cars ever, capable of transporting two people across country in luxury and comfort, then onto a track where it can clean the clocks of lesser Lamborghinis, Porsches and Ferrari F40s.

Read more examples of Apex's articles putting readers in the driver's seat.

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