Perfecting the pony

At first glance there isn't a great deal to separate the Handling GTE from a "normal" 599 GTB Fiorano.


Exterior changes are minor, like new 20-inch wheels, a brushed finish prancing horse front and back and new tailpipe tips. Hear the car rushing along and you'll note a throatier exhaust note.

Inside is a bit more, such as carbonfibre shell seats that are as comfortable as they are good looking, finished in leather and Alcantara, plus added carbonfibre trim.

Even the driveline is little changed right down to the Enzo-related V-12's 6.0 litres, 462kW, 608Nm and the ratios in the 6-speed paddle shifter gearbox, though it now ticks from gear to gear in a fraction-of-a-breath 85 milliseconds, thanks to new software.

So what's really new? The GTE part, which includes stiffening the front springs 17 percent, the rears 15 percent and upping the back anti-roll bar from 23.5 to 25.0 mm. Roll stiffness is up 19 percent. The magnetorheological shocks are firmed appropriately, the front tires on wheels .5 of an inch wider and the car is lowered 10mm.

Other changes include the ability to downshift several gears if you are under hard braking and hold the left shift paddle depressed, which is a little odd the first time you do it, but then just adds to the fun. And when you move the manettino lever to a sportier setting the gearbox shifts down.

We had the chance to try to GTE on Ferrari's Fiorano track and the spring flower-lined roads that wander through the Apennine foothills behind Maranello. The GTE stays firmly planted, the front end feeling more positive in turn-in, the 1688-kg Ferrari "driving" lighter and smaller than it really is. Ride is firmer, but not what you would term edgier so the 599 remains a comfortable long-range tourer.

Figure the price of the Handling GTE package is about a 10 percent premium on the 599's standard price.

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