Monday, September 21, 2009

Ferrari 456 GT & GTA

Any new Ferrari must improve upon the model it replaces, representing a more refined automotive product. In 1989 the final 412 left Maranello and in 1993 the last Mondial was built. In 1992 Ferrari released the 456 GT and GTA, and changed the perception of a high performance 2+2. Refined and elegant comfort and performance were the orders of the day, and the Pininfarina-designed body was as intensely beautiful as the car was luxurious and fast.

Sporting a 436bhp 65° V12 engine and either a 6-speed manual (456 GT) or 4-speed automatic (456 GTA), aerodynamics and handling characteristics unlike those of any other 2+2, the 456 was the ultimate 4-person conveyance. Some might consider it the ultimate in practical automotive design.

Ferrari 360 Spider

The 360 Spider is Ferrari's 20th road going convertible. In terms of engineering, looks, and performance it is the best production spider Maranello has ever produced. Thanks to the exclusive know-how Ferrari has accumulated as a Formula 1 constructor, it is the most technologically advanced convertible available today.

Despite the car's mid-mounted 400bhp V8 engine, Ferrari engineers found a way of creating a roof that automatically folds into its own well between the cabin and the engine bay, thus ensuring purity of line. The intrinsic quality of the design is underlined by the two fairings in the bodywork to the rear of the seats which evoke memories of classic Ferraris. These are matched by the two roll hoops that provide maximum safety for both of the car's occupants.

With the top up the car is aggressive, emphasizing the V8 visible through engine cover. Lowering the fully automatic roof transforms the 360 Spider, highlighting its connection to great sports racers. As strong and rigid as the Berlinetta, the 360 Spider offers performance almost identical to the coupe version, achieving a top speed over 180mph while weighing barely 130lbs more and offering the same amount of room for the occupants and their luggage.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ferrari 360 Modena

Ferrari's latest interpretation of the V8 sports car, the 360 Modena is a clean-sheet design anticipating future trends in Ferrari road cars. These trends include weight reduction combined with greater chassis rigidity. The new approach employs technology based on the use of aluminum for the chassis, body shell, and suspension wishbones. The exclusive use of aluminum, a first for a Ferrari road car, has enabled Ferrari's engineers to reduce the 360 Modena's dry weight by 100 kg compared to the F355 despite rather more generous dimensions resulting in greater comfort and storage space.

Performance has also improved across the board thanks to both a power:weight ratio 0.9lbs/bhp better than the car's predecessor, and the exceptional 3586cc 90° V8 engine providing 400bhp at 8500rpm and 275lb-ft at 4750rpm. The 360 Modena is the culmination of research and experimentation with the use of aluminum on everything from Formula 1 cars, to the 408 4RM prototype and the GT competition cars which were always fabricated in aluminum. The 360 Modena combines Ferrari heritage with innovation.

Ferrari 360 Modena introduction

Aluminum responsible for improving the power to weight ratio byt 0.9lbs/bhp. As a result, the 360 Modena is 0.8 of a second faster at 22.9 seconds over a kilometre from a standing start and has also cut nearly 3 seconds off its predecessor's lap time at the Fiorano track. The transmission features a longitudinal gearbox that allows larger diffusers to be incorporated on the flat underside. The 6-speed gearbox is available as a manual or with the F1 electrohydraulic shift.

Ferrari 348

In 1989 the 348 replaced the most successful and influential two-seat road car ever produced in Italy: the Ferrari 308/328. Happily, the 348 began a new era for Ferrari road cars, bridging the gap between the original three liter V8 cars and the F355, probably the finest sports car of the 20th Century. In its time, the 348 laid claim to that title with equal authority.

The 348 was not simply a freshened 328, it was an entirely new car in every sense, except its sense of fun. The exterior styling was a radical departure, though it provided a strong visual connection to its contemporaries, the Ferrari Testarossa and F40. Perhaps most notably, the 348 was offered in a very wide variety of body styles and trims, making it the most owner-configurable Ferrari to that time. It is a highly personal sports car, capable of 5.5 second sprints to 60mph and a top speed near 170mph.

Ferrari 328

Ferrari's fixed roof 328 GTB (berlinetta) and removable roof 328 GTS (spider) debuted together at the 1985 Frankfurt Auto Show. While often considered the final evolution of the 308 series, the 328 was a substantially new car. Extremely high performance, incredible 308-derived Pininfarina styling, improved road holding, and greater comfort, ensured the 328's desirability.
Ferrari's challenge was to consolidate market share gained through 1970s and early 80s by improving an icon without alienating its acolytes. The 328 easily became the most successful model in Ferrari's history to that time. It remains a highly sought after sports car almost two decades after its introduction.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ferrari 308

The 308 GTB was Ferrari's first two-seat V8 road car. Made available to the public in 1975, it was the long awaited successor to the incomparable Dino 246 GT. The 308 series was a new beginning for the company as the premier builder of exotic sports cars for road use. As such, the 308 was designed to epitomize the sports car in its era. It did so admirably, and remains perhaps the most influential enthusiast car in history. The 308 is the car against which every subsequent sports car has been measured, upon which every Ferrari V8 sports and racing car has been based, and the car that brought Ferrari from the pinnacle of elite car-culture recognition into the minds of the general public. 25 years later, the shape and sound of the 308 is still "Ferrari" in the minds of many people.

The 308 came in two body styles, over three generations. The GTB, or berlinetta body, had a solid roof and slightly greater rigidity. The 308 GTB debuted in 1975. The GTS, or spider body, had a removable roof panel and first appeared in late 1977. The light roof panel was made of covered fiberglass. With windows down and roof off, the popular GTS was open from door to door. The three generations consist of the 308, 308i and 308qv. Apart from minor styling and accent changes, their engines differentiate the generations. The original 308 was carburetted and available from 1975 to 1980. The 1981-82 308i was fuel injected. The 308qv, for quattrovalvole, was fuel injected with four valves per cylinder, and was made from 1982 to 1985.

The 308 allowed its driver to experience a racecar thrill, and it also invited the passenger to relax in comfort and enjoy the ride. The 308 was by no means the first Ferrari to offer sumptuous surroundings with full leather upholstery and stylish appointments, but it offered far more for the casual driver.

Ferrari Enzo II

Considered by many enthusiasts as the ultimate modern Ferrari, the limited-edition Enzo’s replacement will be a tough act to follow up for the Italian automaker. The second-generation Enzo, also named after the marque’s illustrious founder, promises to take performance – and, surprisingly, efficiency – to a new level.
Like the original Enzo, the car’s successor will be a range-topping supercar aimed at immortalizing the legendary founder of the brand. Available only to select current Ferrari owners, the next-generation Enzo will serve as the brand’s performance and technology showcase.
Based – at least in concept – on the Ferrari Millechili show car (though the production Enzo replacement won’t carry that name), the performance car will be loaded with the technology learned from years of Formula 1 experience.
Expected to be powered by a mid-mounted V8 engine, rather than the Maserati-based V12 that motivated the Enzo, power should easily exceed 700 horsepower. Though fuel efficiency is hardly a Ferrari selling point, the car must conform to more recent European Union standards, meaning a new emphasis has been placed on reducing consumption. It has been rumored that Ferrari will use twin-turbocharging to make the most out of a smaller-displacement (think under 6 liters) V8 engine.
Key to addressing the fuel economy issue is a significant weight and size reduction, which should bring the car well down from the just-over 3,000 lbs. of its predecessor; rumors out of Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters indicate that weight could approach 2,200 lbs. Improved aerodynamics, including adjustable front and rear spoilers, will not only help the new Enzo stick to the road at maximum speeds, but it will also ensure reduced fuel consumption.
Its platform could go one of two ways: Either a heavily-modified version of the FXX race car’s architecture – itself a variation of the road-going Enzo – or a slightly longer derivative of the F430’s aluminum space frame.
Production will probably be at least as limited as the original Enzo, meaning no more than 400 of the 1 million Euro-plus supercars will emerge from Maranello when it goes on sale in over a year’s time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ferrari F430

The 2009 Ferrari F430 is neither the most expensive nor the flashiest Ferrari available, but it might just be the best. Thanks to the inherent balance of its midengine layout, the relatively compact F430 is one of the sweetest-handling cars on the planet. It's also one of the sweetest-sounding -- sports cars come and go, but the soul-stirring soundtrack of the F430's 4.3-liter V8 will turn heads until filling stations stop selling gas. With the advent of the new Ferrari California retractable-hardtop roadster, the F430 has some stiff in-house competition, but the F430's lower curb weight and sharper-edged nature make it the enthusiast's choice of the two. If you can stomach the near-$200,000 base price, sports cars don't get much more rewarding than the 2009 Ferrari F430.
A large part of that reward comes in the form of 483 horsepower from the above-mentioned V8, which enables the F430 to hit 60 mph from rest in about 4 seconds flat. There are far cheaper cars with marginally better numbers -- the Chevrolet Corvette Z06/ZR1 tandem and the Nissan GT-R, to name three. That's where the F430's other charms come in, among them a sublimely balanced chassis, telepathic steering and the exotic wail of that gloriously free-revving V8. Sure, it costs more, but for the discerning sports car shopper, the F430 is totally worth the extra coin.
Like any modern-day Ferrari, the F430 is packed to the gills with advanced go-fast technology. Notably, the "manettino" (Italian for "little manager") steering wheel knob cycles through five driving modes that adjust suspension settings, stability and traction control thresholds, and the F1 automated-clutch manual gearbox's shift speed and quality. Of course, you can still order your F430 with the conventional, gated six-speed manual shifter, too. However you order your F430, though, rest assured that contemporary Ferraris, unlike their elemental forebears, are very much children of the 21st century in terms of engineering.
At the end of the day, there's a primal, unencumbered character to the F430 that sets it apart from other cars of its ilk. Of course, that's not to say that there aren't able competitors in this lofty league. Porsche's 911 GT2 and GT3 deserve a close look, as do the related Audi R8 V10 and Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. But if you want a car that will keep seducing you with its song till the oil runs dry, the 2009 Ferrari F430 might just be in a league of its own.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ferrari F430 is available as an ultra-high-performance two-seat exotic coupe or convertible (the latter is known as the Spider). Standard features include 19-inch wheels with high-performance tires, carbon-ceramic brakes, bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic climate control, power seats, leather upholstery and a stereo with a CD player.
There is a long list of options for the F430, the priciest of which include carbon-fiber exterior and mechanical components. Among the more run-of-the-mill options are run-flat tires, front and rear parking sensors, a fire extinguisher, Bluetooth, a non-graphical navigation system with a very limited screen that makes do with voice prompts, and an upgraded sound system. There is also a long list of exterior and interior personalization options.
For track rats and those whose egos are not adequately inflated by the regular F430, Ferrari offers the hard-core F430 Challenge coupe. The Challenge is identical to the base F430 in most mechanical respects, but is 220 pounds lighter. This trick was accomplished through the liberal use of carbon fiber, a Lexan windshield and windows and a lighter, center-mounted exhaust. Other features include a removable racing steering wheel, a firmer suspension with a lower ride height, center-locking ("knock-off") wheels, white exterior graphics and a unique rear fascia. Not surprisingly, the track-biased Challenge comes at a stiff price premium, listing for $50,000 more than a standard F430.

Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Ferrari F430 is powered by a mid-mounted 4.3-liter V8. This naturally aspirated engine produces 483 sonorous hp at 8,500 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque at 5,250 rpm. Thrust is sent to the rear wheels via a conventional six-speed manual transmission with an old-school gated shifter. Optional is the F1 gearbox, a single-clutch automated manual transmission controlled by paddle shifters mounted on the steering column. The F430 also has an electronically controlled rear differential called "E-Diff" that helps to improve acceleration and vehicle balance during cornering. Under full whip, this Italian stallion will gallop to 60 mph in around 4 seconds and top out just shy of 200 mph.

The F430 comes standard with antilock brakes and stability control, but there are no side airbags -- it's the Ferrari way.

Interior Design and Special Features
Unlike Ferraris of yore, the F430's interior is slathered in soft leather and high-quality materials, though it's still more of a focused high-performance driving capsule than a luxurious place to lounge. Aggressively bolstered seats are boons in spirited driving, and weekend racers can go one better by selecting the optional carbon-fiber racing seats. Buyers may also opt for "Daytona" seats, so called because their perforated upholstery design mimics that used in the classic 365 Daytona of the early 1970s. Interior accents can be specified in aluminum or carbon fiber. Although the Spider's fully automatic top lowers in just 20 seconds, its rear window is plastic, a lamentable sin in an exotic drop top.

Driving Impressions
The 2009 Ferrari F430 accelerates with the gusto that only a true exotic can provide. Forget about the numbers -- one run through the gears and you'll be hooked for life on the V8's high-rpm wail. The F1 transmission boasts lightning-quick gearchanges, but its automatic mode isn't as smooth as those provided by more advanced dual-clutch automated manuals. The conventional manual is still very impressive, clinking through the exposed metal gates with loads of old-world charm. Handling is about as good as it gets for street-legal cars, with perfect fore-and-aft balance and precise steering that all but speaks to you in real-time Italian about what's going on below. The suspension is undoubtedly firm, but that shouldn't be an issue for most F430 owners, as we're confident they've got a few other options in the garage for daily driving.

Ferrari California

Ferrari knows convertibles, from the iconic 365 GTB Daytona Spyder to the current drop-top F430. But it has never offered a retractable-hardtop convertible -- until now. The recipient of this design is the 2009 Ferrari California, a car that shares its namesake with Ferrari's unforgettable 250 GT California of a half-century before. It's a big name to live up to, but the new California is up to the task.
The highlight, of course, is the slick two-piece retractable metal roof. Top up, it provides the extra security and noise suppression that only a metal roof can provide. Lowering the top is a graceful affair that takes just 14 seconds, nearly half the time of most other cars with retractable hardtops. The California also boasts a front-mounted variant of Ferrari's familiar 4.3-liter V8, a seven-speed, automated dual-clutch manual transmission (another Ferrari first), ceramic-carbon brakes, optional adaptive dampers and an exquisitely crafted interior.
Many of the California's design attributes are meant to enhance the car's ability to be a grand touring car. The multilink rear suspension is new and is said to provide better ride comfort than the more traditional double-wishbone setup. The 460-horsepower V8 features direct injection -- another Ferrari first -- for enhanced fuel economy. Though that output is down about 30 hp compared to the F430's V8, the California is certainly not a tepid thing -- Ferrari projects a sub-4-second sprint to 60 mph. Much of the credit for the quick time goes to the new dual-clutch gearbox with launch control, a belated step forward from Ferrari's brutally effective but relatively uncivilized F1-style single-clutch automated manual.
Inside, the California continues Ferrari's recent tradition of top-notch cabin design and quality. Fine Italian leather and other upper-crust materials abound, and the tachometer even has a 3D display. One of the odder features of the California's interior is the "2+" layout: The backseat is so small that Ferrari didn't want to call it a full 2+2, and buyers can even specify a leather-lined cargo shelf instead if they don't want the short-trip flexibility of two extra seatbelts. Either way, the seatback folds down to accommodate larger items -- yet another California exclusive.
The 2009 Ferrari California is even fit for tech-savvy consumers, boasting a hard-drive-based navigation/infotainment system with DVD playback and an optional iPod connection. Indeed, perhaps the only consumers who won't like the California are hard-core sports-car purists. These folks want three pedals on the floor and a manual shifter on the console, so they'll probably end up with a 430 Spider instead, or perhaps a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder or an Aston Martin DB9 Volante, though all three make do with soft tops. But for the average hedge-fund manager with $200,000 to spend on an exotic convertible, the Ferrari California will be exceedingly hard to resist.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ferrari California retractable-hardtop convertible comes with a "2+" interior layout that offers a choice between a tiny two-passenger rear seat and a rear parcel shelf. Standard equipment on the sole trim level includes bi-xenon headlights with LEDs, 19-inch wheels, a "manettino" knob on the steering wheel (which groups stability and traction control thresholds, gearbox settings and -- when the optional adaptive dampers are specified -- suspension calibrations into distinct driving modes), a full leather interior, Bluetooth, a fold-down rear seatback, a trip computer and a CD/MP3 audio system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and hard-drive-based navigation.
Options include "diamond-finish" wheels in 19-inch and 20-inch sizes, adaptive headlights, iPod connectivity, carbon-fiber trim, a luggage kit and adaptive magnetorheological dampers. There is also a dizzying array of customization possibilities for everything from interior trim to seat upholstery to exterior styling cues.

Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2009 Ferrari California is powered by a direct-injected 4.3-liter V8 that cranks out 460 hp and 357 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual is the only available transmission. According to Ferrari, the California is capable of sprinting from zero to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.

Antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and stability and traction control are standard on the California.

Interior Design and Special Features
Like every current Ferrari, the new California has an interior befitting its lofty price. There's leather everywhere, including on the dash, and the overall design is contemporary and sharp. The steering-wheel-mounted "manettino" knob gives the driver control over a wide range of dynamic vehicle functions, and the entertainment system offers a variety of virtues, from the crisp 6.5-inch screen to hard-drive music storage and video DVD playback. The rear seat is so cramped that it almost makes more sense to specify the rear parcel shelf instead -- it looks nicer, and the seatback folds down either way. Trunk space with the top up is an impressive 12 cubic feet, and there's still a usable 8.5 cubic feet left over with the top down.

Driving Impressions
Weighing about 3,800 pounds, the 2009 Ferrari California is hardly an elemental sports car. Indeed, Ferrari prefers to call the California a grand tourer (GT) in its official literature. Nonetheless, the California's road manners are exemplary, with a relatively smooth ride for cruising and handling that's sharp enough to justify the prancing horse badge. The direct-injected V8 pulls hard and sounds amazing, while the new dual-clutch transmission is polished and efficient whether you're banging through the gears on back roads or puttering around town in automatic mode. And thanks to the retractable hardtop, coupelike refinement at speed is also on the California's résumé.

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

Conventional wisdom has it that crossover SUV drivers are drawn to their rides because they want to avoid the family-mobile stigma of a minivan. However, a crossover SUV hardly makes a bold statement of its own. That's why families with four members or fewer should consider the 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Well, let's qualify that: families with four members or fewer and perhaps their own hedge fund.
We're not entirely joking about the 612's credentials as a family hauler. Its trunk can swallow almost 9 cubic feet of luggage, which is about nine times as much as you can carry on a Ducati sportbike. Its rear compartment may only have two seats, but there's honestly 10-gallon-hat headroom back there, and legroom isn't bad either. Its leather-wrapped interior will make practically any road trip with the kiddos a pleasant experience. And with a base price of approximately $312,000, the 612 costs less than 12 Honda Odysseys.
All right, so bang for the buck isn't exactly the 612's forte. But in most other respects, it really is a supercar the whole family can enjoy. Certifiable supercars with room for four full-size humans are a rare breed, and Ferrari certainly deserves some respect for building one. It also deserves respect for updating it every year rather than letting it lie fallow -- notably, the 2009 model receives Ferrari's trademark "manettino" steering wheel knob, which allows fingertip control over five performance driving modes.
Our only real beef with the 612 involves its shape. Despite having been penned by the iconic Pininfarina styling house, the 612 looks rather mundane by Ferrari's lofty standards. However, once those lucky few Scaglietti owners have fired up the ferocious 532-horsepower V12 under the hood or taken familiar corners at belief-beggaring velocities, they probably won't care too much about where this Ferrari falls in the pantheon of automotive design.
Comparing the 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti with rivals like the Bentley Continental GT and Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG is like comparing a live concerto to a tape recording. The latter can still satisfy, but the former has that special something that inspires people to fork over more money in order to experience it. The 612 has that special something. If you need high-speed, sharp-handling transportation for four adults, it doesn't get better than this.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti comes in a 2+2 coupe body style. Standard equipment on the sole trim level includes xenon headlights, 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels wearing 245/45 front and 285/40 rear performance tires, an adaptive suspension system, a "manettino" knob on the steering wheel (which groups suspension settings, stability and traction control thresholds, and F1 gearbox shift changes into five distinct driving modes), a power-closing trunk, rear park assist, heated exterior mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, power front seats and leather upholstery. Also standard is a Bose Media System, which bundles together premium sound, a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, an iPod jack, a USB port and 15 gigabytes of audio storage.
Optional features include heated front seats, a space-saver spare tire kit, run-flat tires and a six-piece fitted leather luggage set. Should you desire even higher performance, the HGTS package provides a quicker-acting F1 gearbox, a sport exhaust and colored brake calipers, while the HGTC package includes those items plus carbon-ceramic disc brakes, unique wheels and a chrome accent for the rear diffuser. Further customization is available via Ferrari's One-to-One program, which allows the buyer to sit down in an "atelier" (French for "workshop") at the factory with a Ferrari expert and specify interior materials, color combinations and so on.

Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 612 Scaglietti is powered by a 5.7-liter V12 that cranks out 532 hp and 434 pound-feet of torque. Notably, the V12 is mounted rearward enough that the 612 is considered a front/midengine car. A six-speed "F1" automated manual is the only available transmission, and it features improved shift times for 2009. The F1 setup offers a choice of automatic or manual mode, the latter being controlled via steering-column-mounted shift paddles. According to Ferrari, the 612 Scaglietti is capable of sprinting from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and hitting a top speed just shy of 200 mph.

Antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control are standard. However, side and side curtain airbags are not available, as Ferrari claims that the 612 provides excellent protection without them.

Interior Design and Special Features
The 612 Scaglietti's interior breaks the stereotype that driving a Ferrari requires sacrificing creature comforts. This leather-lined cabin features sumptuous seating and high-quality materials throughout. Steering-wheel-mounted buttons give the driver control over a wide range of vehicle functions, and the Bose Media System makes the 612 technologically competitive with supercoupes from Bentley and Mercedes. Accessing the two rear bucket seats requires some flexibility, and the cartoonishly prominent rear side bolsters mean that the broader of beam need not apply. Provided that you're fairly fit and can negotiate the seats, headroom won't be a problem, and legroom is adequate as well.

Driving Impressions
The 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti compensates for its nearly 2-ton curb weight with light, precise steering and impressively nimble handling. The V12 is a refined brute under full throttle, treating you to an unmistakably Italian symphony with every jab of the throttle. The 612's F1 gearbox provides acceptable shift quality, particularly for a single-clutch unit (the modern dual-clutch gearboxes are generally smoother), along with superhuman shift speeds during performance driving.

Ferrari 599

The V12-powered 2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano is the automotive equivalent of flying first class: It's astoundingly expensive, but it's so much better than the norm that it almost seems worth it. This sinuously styled two-seat supercar outperforms the legendary Ferrari F40, yet it also provides the compliant ride and rich appointments of a grand touring coupe. Yes, you could buy five BMW M3s for the same $300,000-plus price, but that's not the point. The 599 GTB is pure automotive excellence, and those privileged enough to experience its first-class virtues will have a very hard time going back to coach.
Styled by longtime Ferrari aesthetician Pininfarina, the 599 bears a clear resemblance to the four-seat 612 Scaglietti in front, but the rest of the car is a better-looking blend of rising haunches, flying-buttress roof pillars and purposeful air intakes and extractors. We still don't think the 599 deserves a place in Ferrari's pantheon of classically beautiful sports cars, but its aura is unmistakably exotic. Underneath, the 599 shares the 612 Scaglietti's platform architecture -- not a bad choice as organ donors go.
Thanks to its mellifluous 612-horsepower V12, the 3,722-pound 599 GTB Fiorano can sprint from zero to 62 mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds, en route to a top speed in excess of 200 mph. The sophisticated suspension features magnetic dampers that firm up in milliseconds in response to aggressive cornering, yet ease off for relaxed interstate cruising, allowing the 599 GTB to serve up thrills and comfort as needed. New for 2009 is the Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione (HGTE) package, which tacks on a variety of suspension and other performance upgrades as well as some sporty aesthetic touches. We weren't aware that the 599 GTB Fiorano needed help in the handling department, but extremists who found last year's model soft should be pleased by this development.
Naturally, the 599 GTB Fiorano doesn't come cheap. And previously, it also didn't come easy, either, with waiting lists rumored to be months (if not years) long. The recent world recession has taken care of the waiting lists, we suspect, leaving the issue of having $300,000 or so to spend on an exotic as the sole barrier. Of course, there are other exotics one could consider, too, from the striking Aston Martin DBS to the thundering Lamborghini Murciélago. Yet, for those able to purchase such a car, you're not going to do any better than Ferrari's 599 GTB Fiorano.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano is a two-seat coupe available in one trim level. Standard equipment includes xenon headlights, 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels wearing 245/40 front and 305/35 rear performance tires, an adaptive suspension system with magnetic dampers, leather upholstery and interior trim, automatic dual-zone climate control, power front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and an eight-speaker Becker CD/MP3 audio system.
The optional Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione (HGTE) package specifies stiffer springs and a beefed-up rear antiroll bar along with revised shock-absorber calibration, a lower ride height, a unique high-performance tire compound, quicker shifts from the F1 automated-clutch manual gearbox, more immediate throttle response and a throatier exhaust note. HGTE also adds unique exterior and interior styling cues.
Optional features include front and rear park assist, a six-CD changer, a navigation system, heated front seats, carbon-fiber interior accents, a space-saver spare tire kit, run-flat tires, carbon-ceramic racing brakes and a six-piece fitted leather luggage set. Those seeking further distinction may request special interior and exterior colors.

Powertrains and Performance
The 599 GTB Fiorano's 6.0-liter V12 sends a colossal 612 hp and 448 pound-feet of torque to the rear tires via either a traditional six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed "F1" transmission. The F1 is an automated-clutch manual transmission with a single clutch, allowing drivers to choose between automatic and manual modes, the latter being controlled by shift paddles mounted on the steering column. Ferrari claims the 599 Fiorano is capable of hitting 60 mph in less than 3.7 seconds and running up to a top speed of around 205 mph.

Antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control are standard. Notably, side and side curtain airbags are not available.

Interior Design and Special Features
Unlike supercars of old, the 2009 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano offers much more than a cramped cockpit with minimal accoutrements. The well-shaped seats are finished in premium hides, while aluminum accents enrich the ambience. Buyers can even choose a carbon-fiber steering wheel with integrated LEDs that move in lockstep with engine revs. The car's many interactive systems (such as stability control, suspension settings and F1 gearbox response) can be adjusted via a knob on the steering wheel called the "manettino" -- Italian for "little manager."

Driving Impressions
In addition to predictably brutal acceleration -- that's what 612 hp will do for you -- the 599 GTB provides a soundtrack to savor. The unmistakable shriek of the V12 under hard acceleration changes to a guttural hum at part throttle and nearly disappears at high cruising speeds, where wind noise is practically the only indication of pace. The F1 gearbox provides instantaneous gearchanges that no human could hope to match, but its single-clutch design prevents it from being as smooth as the newer dual-clutch units.
In tight corners, the 599 GTB remains so flat and composed that the usual indicators of fast-approaching limits, such as body roll and tire squeal, are absent. It's hard to imagine improvement here, but the HGTE package does sharpen the 599's character a touch. On the downside, the 599's steering leaves a bit to be desired -- it's too light at higher speeds, where reassuring heft is desirable. The steering ratio also seems a touch slow for an exotic sports car, as tight cornering requires more hand movement than we'd expect. The adaptive suspension damping works miracles on nearly any surface, swallowing bumps without drama while keeping the car planted in all situations.

Ferrari 430 Scuderia

The 2009 Ferrari 430 Scuderia is what happens when a serious performance-car company decides to weed out the wannabes. Let's start with two features it doesn't have: a radio or anything worthy of being called "sound-deadening material." If you're a Beverly Hills weenie, Ferrari seems to be saying help yourself to the regular F430, preferably in convertible form. But if you want arguably the most exhilarating driving experience Ferrari has to offer, bring your racing shoes and get your name on the 430 Scuderia waiting list. Oh, and bring money, too -- the Scuderia costs (gulp) $100,000 more than the F430 on which it's based.
So what do you get for your extra $100,000? Well, if you have to ask about value, you probably shouldn't be shopping for a Ferrari in the first place. But the Scuderia does give you a lot of upgrades for your 65-percent-greater financial contribution. By ditching the sound insulation, replacing some significant components with carbon-fiber versions (door panels, central tunnel, seats), ripping out the carpet and making the floor aluminum, Ferrari shaved about 450 pounds off the F430's already svelte 3,196-pound curb weight. The 4.3-liter V8 also came in for revisions, albeit minor ones, resulting in a 20-horsepower gain for a total of 503 hp. The result isn't what we'd call refined, exactly, but it sure is fast -- the 0-60-mph sprint drops from 4 four seconds to a shade over 3, making the Scuderia one of the quickest cars in the world.
The 430 Scuderia also employs the services of E-Diff2, an electronic dream team that combines the F430's E-Diff electronic limited-slip differential with the 599 GTB Fiorano's F1-Trac traction control system. E-Diff2 offers 40 percent more acceleration out of corners than a traditional traction/stability control system, so it won't just save your bacon -- it'll also make you look like a better driver. Ferrari's single-clutch automated manual F1 gearbox is mandatory on the Scuderia. Some may wish for a conventional manual transmission instead, but Ferrari says the F1's quicker shift times make it ideal for racetrack duty.
The limited-production 2009 Ferrari 430 Scuderia is an unparalleled track day toy or look-at-me accessory for folks with a roster of more comfortable daily-driver options. We'd rather have a 599 GTB Fiorano for just $20,000 more -- but then, that's because we don't already have one in the garage.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ferrari 430 Scuderia is an ultra-high-performance two-seat exotic coupe available in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, five driver-selectable settings for suspension, throttle and transmission calibrations, numerous carbon-fiber body panels and interior components, carbon-fiber racing seats available in three sizes, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, xenon headlights, full power accessories and automatic climate control.
There are numerous personalization options available, including special paint and trim items for both the exterior and interior. While the standard Scuderia comes without a stereo, you can add one as an option, and it includes Bluetooth and the availability of a six-CD changer with iPod connectivity.

Powertrains and Performance
The Ferrari 430 Scuderia is powered by a massaged version of the F430's 4.3-liter V8 that produces 503 hp and 347 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission available is the F1-SuperFast 2 automated-clutch manual, which is controlled by carbon-fiber paddle shifters mounted on the steering column. Gearchanges are accomplished in 60 milliseconds, or a quarter of the time needed to change a gear the old-fashioned way.
The estimated 0-60-mph time for the Scuderia is 3.4 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of around 11 seconds at 126 mph. The standard carbon-ceramic brakes haul the Scuderia down from 60 mph in just 95 feet, which is about as good as it gets.

The 430 Scuderia comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control and the E-Diff2's combination of a limited-slip differential and traction control. There are no side airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features
The Scuderia's interior is quite literally a shell of its former F430 self. Carbon fiber is used throughout the cabin to save weight, while Alcantara faux suede fills in the blanks. The optional stereo is worth considering, but the unadulterated V8 howl might be the only music you'll ever need. The driver and passenger are kept in place by carbon-fiber seats, which are available in three sizes and include street-friendly manually adjustable seatbacks.

Driving Impressions
With five driving settings controlled by the steering wheel's "manettino" (Italian for "little manager") knob, not to mention E-Diff2's magical power management, the 2009 Ferrari 430 Scuderia seems designed to make even the average Giuseppe feel like Ferrari F1 legend Michael Schumacher in the twisties. Not coincidentally, Schumacher himself was supposedly involved in the Scuderia's development. Even without the electronic gadgetry, the 430 Scuderia is still a delightfully elemental embodiment of the midengine sports car concept.