The fact that Ferrari chose Beijing as the official coming out party for its fastest ever front-engined road car is a clear signal of the importance of this market to the crew from Maranello. Whatever the reasons, we're always happy to finally get our first glimpse of the new 599 GTO, a proper Ferrari if there ever was one.
Only 599 GTOs are scheduled to be built and the entire run is reported to be sold out. However, we're pretty sure that anyone with the correct financial wherewithal will find a way to park one in their garage. And there's even bigger news about the 599 GTO's Nürburgring lap time. Stay tuned...
Photos by Sam Abuelsamid / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
The 599 GTO represents the new pinnacle of sports car performance and was designed specifically for enthusiastic drivers who know how to appreciate and exploit its power. It has an unprecedented weight-to-power ratio, achieved thanks to new materials and technologies that have slashed 100 kg from its overall weight and it boasts an aerodynamic package that doubles the downforce of the 599 GTB Fiorano. The 670 CV V12 engine was derived from the 599XX's but is homologated for road use and the car also boasts new generation carbon-ceramic (CCM2) brakes. Lastly the electronic control systems were an integral part of the chassis development from the start of the project, making the 599 GTO exceptionally responsive and involving in the hands of expert of drivers. It is thus particularly suited to owners capable of making the very most of its levels of performance.
The car's name recalls both the 599 GTB Fiorano and the 599XX with which it shares the same 5999 cc engine displacement, while the GTO (Gran Turismo Omologata) name is a moniker of huge significance in Ferrari history. It was first adopted in 1962 for the 250 GTO, long considered the finest Ferrari ever built, and then later revived for the 1984 GTO, often unofficially referred to as the 288 GTO and widely credited with having invented the modern supercar concept. The new 599 GTO embodies the blistering performance, technological innovation, philosophy and spirit that transformed the 250 GT into the legendary and highly sought-after 250 GTO. In short, it epitomises the very essence of the marque in its utter uniqueness and exclusivity.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX
The 599 GTO's engine is derived directly from the 599XX, albeit with certain modifications necessary for it to comply with Euro 5 and LEV2 standards and thus gain road-going homologation. Specifically, these involved the addition of one catalyser per cylinder bank and an exhaust silencer. The new car is powered by a 65-degree V12 with a bore of 92 mm and a stroke of 75.2 mm. It has a 6-litre displacement and, with an output of 670 CV at 8,250 rpm, boasts a specific power output of 112 CV/litre and a weight-to-power ratio of just 2.23 kg/CV. The engine offers a constant crescendo of power and torque all the way up to the rev limiter at 8,400 rpm. Torque peaks at 620 Nm at 6500 rpm with impressive flexibility even at low to medium revs and incredible pulling power all the way to the redline. This result was achieved thanks to development work on the engine's fluid-dynamics and on component friction losses which have been reduced by 12 per cent compared to a traditional 12-cylinder. That was achieved by using Printed Grafal® coating on the piston skirts, superfinished cam lobes (the same process as used on F1 engines), DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating on the hydraulic tappets and by opting for a new crankshaft featuring counterweights with aerodynamic profiling. The intake system features a new manifold with diffuser-type intake geometry and short inlet tracts designed to improve power delivery at highrevs and reduce losses. To maximise volumetric efficiency per cylinder, a connection between the two plenums at the front compensates for variations in the volume and this ensures maximum performance at high engine speeds. At the same time, both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced to 17.5 l/100km and 411 g/km respectively, a result that is fully in line with Ferrari's commitment to the environment despite increasing power.
Meticulously selected materials and geometries have ensured that the engine sound inside the car is carefully controlled to balance the intake sound with the exhaust, thus giving the driver plenty of feedback. The sound filtering through to the cockpit is now 8 decibels louder, and is clear and powerful regardless of engine speed or driving conditions. The exhaust features a new 6-into-1 manifold which produces a potent, howl with combustion harmonics predominating. The silencer assembly retains the thrilling 12-cylinder soundtrack whilst also ensuring an excellent level of acoustic comfort.
The 599 GTO features the latest version of the Ferrari F1 gearbox with 60 millisecond shift times, making gear changes even more responsive and the car even more thrilling to drive, thanks also to the new multiple downshift feature when keeping the Down paddle pulled when braking hard.
The characteristics it has inherited from the 599XX greatly enhance the new GTO's sporty personality: compared to the 599 GTB Fiorano the steering wheel angle has been reduced 15 per cent, and response times by 20 per cent. The result is sharper turn-in with a smaller steering wheel angle.
Apart from some obvious tweaks to guarantee the car's road-going homologation, the same innovative methodology used for the 599XX and F1 cars was employed with the GTO: the chassis set-up (springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, tyres) and vehicle control systems were designed and developed in tandem from the very earliest phases of the project. The car has a different 20" tyre and rim set-up too: 285/30 Michelin tyres on a 9.5'' channel are now used at the front while 315/35 Michelins on an 11.5'' channel are used at the rear. This set-up guarantees greater lateral acceleration, more stability in cornering and thus faster cornering all round. Rigidity-roll distribution is biased towards the rear to minimise understeer. This translates into less steering wheel angle for any given corner.
With regard to vehicle control systems, the engineers have seamlessly integrated the development of the SCM2 (second-generation Magnetorheological Suspension Control), ESP (Electronic Stability Control) and F1-Trac (Traction Control) systems. The SCM2 is a suspension control system that uses a fluid which reacts to an electronically controlled magnetic field generated inside the damper to change its viscosity. Thanks to new accelerometers and a different ECU, the control software adjusts the intensity of the magnetic field every millisecond which means that the SCM2 reads the road surface instantaneously.
The Stability Control System acts independently on all four brakes. The F1-Trac now estimates grip across a broader range of frequencies. The overall effect is sharper turning into bends and a more accurate line through the corner, with the SCM2 optimally and very rapidly distributing damping between front and rear axles whilst, contemporaneously, the ESP acts independently on all four wheels to increase and control yaw rate. Coming out of the bend, the SCM2 continues to monitor the car's balance, working in tandem with the F1-Trac to maximise longitudinal and lateral acceleration, thus allowing the driver to accelerate harder and earlier.
Essential to guaranteeing the 599 GTO's benchmark performance and superlative driver involvement was the work carried out on all areas of the car to reduce weight, including using high-performance composites and track-oriented technologies. Thinner gauge aluminium (-20 per cent) and glass was used, while the second generation CCM2 brakes, forged aluminium wheel rims, hollow roll bars, titanium wheel bolts, and a carbon-fibre racing seat all helped shave off more weight. The boot lid was also redesigned, cutting its weight by 40 per cent. The car's bumpers, aerodynamic underbody and sill covers were also redesigned and manufactured in composites and carbon-fibre. With regard to the mechanical components, there's a lighter torque tube and the redesigned exhaust system is hydroformed which means that the sheet metal from which it is made is pressed into the die by a high-pressure hydraulic fluid. This track-derived technique allows thinner gauge metals to be used as well as doing away with any need for welds, thus saving on weight. The fact that despite the restrictions imposed for road-going vehicles, an impressive 100 kg has been cut off the car's weight means that it has a weight-to-power ratio of just 2.23 kg/CV.
The 599 GTO's benchmark performance is due in no small part to its new carbon-ceramic CCM2 brakes which are lighter and more efficient than the previous version. The new brakes guarantee optimal performance and stability even in extreme driving, thanks to exceptionally high fade resistance despite the lighter construction.
The replacement of the system's resin brake pads with a new carbon-ceramic material ensures bettter performance even when applying the brakes the first time from cold, thus guaranteeing more consistent pedal response. This boosts the system's predictive accuracy and ability to intervene. The carbon-ceramic pads also ensure that the chemical and physical structure doesn't change even at the highest operating temperatures which thus avoids the reduction in the coefficient of friction which would impinge on braking efficiency and results in sharper deceleration even after repeated braking from high speeds.
The CCM2 system's constant coefficient of friction meant that the ABS could be calibrated for high performance. Working in tandem the two systems cut deceleration times and deliver shorter stopping distances.
Special F1-derived fairings known as wheel doughnuts have also been employed inside the wheel rim. As well as their role in improving aerodynamics, these also improve braking efficiency by optimising brake cooling.
AERODYNAMICS AND STYLING
The 599 GTO's aerodynamics have benefited significantly from Ferrari engineers' experience in F1 and with the 599XX which allowed downforce to be greatly increased without impacting on drag. Thanks to solutions transferred from the track car to the road-going version, the GTO generates downforce of 144 kg at 200 km/h. The focus was on all the areas that have the greatest direct impact on aerodynamic performance: the front, sides, rear, underbody, and, obviously, the cooling flows. The cooling ducts for the discs and pads have been optimised while the wheel doughnuts reduce the energy loss caused by turbulence created by the rims themselves. The front bumper was widened to improve the fairing-in of the wheels and there is also a new wider sill design to improve the fairing of the rear wheels. The sill also features a more pronounced leading edge that improves the efficiency of the central section of the underbody. Work on the nose of the car was aimed at narrowing the width of the wake generated by the front and thus reduce drag. The car is also equipped with a splitter, an aerodynamic surface between the front wheels which diverts the air flow to the rear of the car. In transferring this feature from the 599XX to the 599 GTO it has been transformed into a separate wing that improves downforce over the front of the car and increases the flow of cooling air to the oil radiator. At its rear, the geometry of the splitter guarantees the flow always separates at the same point and thus the efficiency of its pressure is maximised, also greatly lowering drag. The underbody itself incorporates a new, lower front section with 599XX-inspired diffusers ahead of the front wheels to optimise downforce, and a new double-curve rear diffuser, the result of F1 research. Behind the wheel the effect is of a very short wheelbase, almost as if it was cut short just behind the driver's seat.
The car-driver interface was designed to maximise car and driver performance with a layout of the main commands that ensures absolute efficiency and minimum distraction. The fact that the tyres, brakes and engine unit are being continuously monitored for performance and potential will prove reassuring indeed to both professional and less expert drivers alike. The ergonomics are designed for very press-on driving both on the track and on the road.
The Racing manettino puts the emphasis firmly on track-specific sporty driving offering the driver greater freedom in configuring the car's electronic control system parameters. The CT OFF setting, which deactivates traction control, has been incorporated to give the driver control of the car on the limit without losing the assistance of the stability control on the edge. The fact that the control systems can be deactivated is proof of a handling set-up that is balanced in any condition and on any surface.
The five options are:
LOW GRIP for slippery surfaces; SPORT for good grip conditions; RACE for maximum performance in optimal driving conditions, particularly suited to the track; CT-OFF for maximum driving involvement in ideal grip situations. Ideal both for having fun or for improving driving skills, it allows power oversteer right to the very edge of control but still with a good safety margin. CST-OFF (Stability and Traction Control Systems deactivated) instead eliminates all electronic control systems leaving the driver absolute freedom in his track driving.
In addition the GTO also features the Virtual Race Engineer (VRE), a system that monitors the status of the car and gives the driver immediate updates on vehicle performance. Lastly, the GTO is also fitted with specific carbon-fibre F1 paddles for easier, distraction-free use in high-speed driving.
INTERIOR AND PERSONALISATION
The 599 GTO's cabin reflects its sporty character. It is also quite functional as a result of the significant weight savings made to boost performance. However, although use has been made of lightweight technical materials, the interior is in not Spartan in the least. Bare aluminium has been used for the floor and there are numerous carbon-fibre features too. The standard version of the car offers a cordura and 3D technical fabric trim with matching stitching and Alcantara®. Alcantara® and leather trim is also available on request too. The ergonomics of the F1 gearbox console have been completely redesigned to ensure that the controls are within even easier reach of the driver. The entire interior is trimmed in matte carbon-fibre and technical fabric. The overall result is that although there is no question that this is an extreme car, it remains both classic and elegant.