599 GTO Fun Drive
Volume 48 Issue 2
Jan 22, 2023
Would you like to drive my 599 GTO? Jim gives a resounding sure!
One of the fun things I get to do is drive someone’s Ferrari. Over the years I have driven many different Ferraris and some models I have extensive seat time in multiple cars.
I have not have the chance to experience most of the newer models. I have not driven the 458 Italia, 488 GTB, or even a 550 Maranello.
The 599 was in that category until David Nelson of Akron, Ohio, allowed me the drive his. His was not only a 599 but the GTO version of this model.
With my previous admission I cannot tell you how the standard 599 GTB feels and how much better the GTO version is.
I can describe the experience as an incredible leap forward in technology and performance.
Production of the 599 GTB was started in 2006 and finalized in 2012. It carries a 6.0-liter V-12 engine producing 612 HP.
Aluminum was used for the chassis for the first time eliminating the steel frame previously used for the GT cars. Magnetorheological shock absorbers were introduced and adjustable through a knob on the steering wheel.
0 to 100 km is achieved in 3.7 seconds. All that performance comes in the standard GTB.
The 599 GTO is a road version of the 599XX track car. Its enhanced features include an additional 50 hp.
The F1 transmission features a multiple shift program like the 599XX, and 0 to 100 km time was lowered to 3.3 seconds. Clearly, the 599 GTO is a step above a standard GTB.
Full disclosure, I did not attempt to explore the full capabilities of this animal. I did spend enough time to appreciate how capable this Ferrari is, and what it is capable of.
Today’s mission is lunch in a nearby town. Nelson drives his 275 GTS. I get to drive the GTO.
It is Bianco Avus with Bordeaux Alcantara interior. It has a long list of other features, but the most striking feature is the red carbon fiber accents.
Whether on the inside or on the outside, the red carbon fiber glistens in the sun sending a warm glow everywhere it is seen.
I settle into the deep seat and nestle into the firm side bolsters without any adjustments, except for running the seat as far back as it will go; one of the downsides of being tall. The cockpit feels absolutely perfect.
My 6-foot, 2-inch frame is comfortable. Gauges are visible and switches fall within reach. I’ve never sat in a 599 before and it feels like it was made just for me.
I don’t own any modern cars; if it doesn’t have 100,000 miles and is less than twenty years old, it’s a new car to me. I need a quick tutorial to start and shift this machine.
Turn the key and push the ‘Start’ button. The engine fires up and idles smoothly. This is going to be fun.
It takes me several miles to get the hang of paddle shifting, but the Ferrari handles my clumsiness without complaint.
It will not upshift without being prompted but the engine and tach communicate when needed. Down shifting will occur automatically coming to a stop.
If consciously downshifting the transmission reacts quickly and positively I feel certain with some practice it could be incredibly fun on the track.
We drive through the backroads of Ohio with some nice twisty sections and had a bit of freeway for high-speed testing.
The Ferrari gets high marks in my book for power, handling, and braking. The engine is very flexible with the ability to put power down when needed.
The brakes give a high degree of confidence whether at low speed or high speed stopping, and the handling is smooth and predictable. Overall, it is a fantastic experience.
Since I’ve driven the 599 GTO I hope I won’t be disappointed when I get to enjoy a standard 599 GTB!