The car you are looking at is, quite simply, the fastest, most powerful road car Ferrari has ever built. It's called the 599 GTO, it costs $435,000 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 the engine, but also to its braking system, aerodynamics and electronics, the 599 GTO can lap the company's Fiorano test track faster than even the million-dollar Enzo. It promises to provide a level of driver feedback and digital interaction that has never before been available on a production Ferrari, yet it is also more economical and cleaner than the regular 599 GTB.
Essentially a road-legal version of the extraordinary 599XX, the GTO features numerous design and engineering aspects that were pioneered on its track-only sibling. The V12 engine, just like that of the 599XX, has been “super-polished” internally and features a “diamond-like carbon coating" on its hydraulic tappets that increases its overall efficiency compared with the GTB by an impressive 12 percent.
It also has a new six-into-one exhaust manifold and a completely revised intake manifold that helps it sound both louder and “even more magnificent” from inside the cockpit while still conforming to Euro 5 and LEV 2 homologation standards.
The headline power and torque figures make impressive enough reading on their own. The GTO's 6.0-liter V12 produces a whopping 661hp at 8,250rpm and 457lb-ft of torque at 6,500rpm, up from 612hp and 448lb-ft in the GTB. The F1 gearbox also features new software that improves the shift times to just 60 milliseconds, and it can deliver multiple downshifts with just one pull on the lever during heavy braking.
Combine this extra firepower with a 220lb weight reduction, however, and you begin to realize how potent a machine the 3,638-lb GTO really is.
Except that its advantages over the 205mph GTB don't stop there. Thanks to a completely redesigned underbody that includes a splitter at the front plus an F1-style diffuser at the back, the GTO generates an impressive 317lbs of downforce at 124mph. In theory, this should mean that its high-speed stability is in a different stratosphere from that of the GTB, which generates less than half that much downforce at the same speed.
On top of all this, the GTO, has carbon ceramic discs as standard – which, just like those of the 599XX, are fitted with so-called “donuts” to help dissipate heat and lower drag around the 20in. wheels.
Finally, the GTO features a more aggressive, driver-oriented traction control system that helps it to deliver thrills – and speed – in however big a bucket load the driver wishes. Ferrai says that this, in conjunction with the new Virtual Race Engineer dashboard data system, provides the GTO with a distinctly track-specific personality that can be tailored to whatever a driver's needs may be.
On the road – and in the raw – the 599 GTO is one of those rare cars that requires you to think long and hard before climbing aboard, thumbing the starter button and going for a blast up the road. Visually, it is both fantastically intimidating and breathtakingly beautiful, with wings and orifices to inhale and dispel the air that feeds it seemingly everywhere you look.
Climb aboard and hunker down into its high-backed bucket seat and the sense of purpose is almost overwhelming. From its carbon fiber instrument surrounds to its drilled alloy pedals and its 10,000rpm rev counter, the GTO feels every inch a road-legalized racecar inside, albeit with a certain nod toward civility. There's even a row of Christmas tree lights atop the steering wheel to remind you when to shift up.
When you finally do fire it up, then give it a burst of revs for no particular reason, it sounds completely and utterly fantastic. The noise is so complex, and so rich, that you could happily sit there and just listen to it all day. 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 in pretty much any gear and at any speed below 170mph – and the noise it generates while 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 Porsche 911 does in third, and in second gear it's just crazy fast.
Yet somehow Ferrari has managed to build a car that doesn't just surround but does full justice to this incredible engine. Thus, the GTO rides almost as well as it handles if you play around with its various manettino settings; it 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 – be that on the road, track or even bumbling along the local main street, where it tends to generate rather a lot of attention, whether you like it or not. It feels like a totally different car, in fact.
Ferrari isn't exaggerating when it describes the GTO as a road-legal version of the 599XX, as opposed to an uprated version of the GTB. Considering that the 599XX costs a cool $1.7m, that makes the infinitely more usable and only marginally less dramatic GTO something of a bargain at a mere $435k.
Either way, this is a genuine landmark car for Ferrari. It's also a proper, bona fide addition to the GTO family.