The Gran Turismo Omologata (GTO) is back. Big time. Ferrari has officially issued a press release on the new Ferrari 599 GTO ahead of its end of April official launch at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show. This car uses the GTO moniker and follows the famous tradition of ultra-fast intercontinental grand tourers that Ferrari once homologated for racing in the 1960s. It was mainly made famous by the 250GTO, which Ferrari made and took it racing successfully. The 250GTO is now one of the most collectible and cherished Ferraris ever. The other famous GTO was the 1980s 288GTO which was one of the favoured wall poster dream car for kids in the 1980s as well as the forerunner to the F40. So the new 599 GTO has some big shoes to fill.
According to the Ferrari press release, the 599 GTO is an extreme V12 berlinetta developed to a specific performance-oriented brief. The 599 GTO is Ferrari's fastest ever road car. It is an exclusive limited edition special inspired by a production car, the base 599GTB as well as the 599XX, the advanced experimental track car (like the Enzo based FXX), and can be considered almost a road-going version of it. The 599 GTO benefits directly from the transfer of technology from the 599XX. The car set a lap time at Fiorano in 1 minute 24 seconds. Faster than the Ferrari Enzo if you must know.
The 599 GTO's engine is directly derived from the 599 with modifications for road-going homologation, thus complies with the strict Euro 5 and LEV 2 standards. The 5999 cc V12 engine makes 670 bhp at 8250 rpm with maximum torque of 620 Nm at 6500 rpm and the engine has been tweaked by Ferrari so that there is a smooth, constant rush of power all the way to the redline with no loss of flexibility even at medium and low revs. The 599 GTO features the same, 60 ms shift times and the possibility to make multiple downshifts like the 599XX. 670 hp in a 1495kg car represents a weight-to-power ratio of just 2.23 kg/hp, and ensures a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 3.35 seconds as well as a top speed of over 335 km/h.
Now one of the reason of the high levels of performance is the innovative approach to chassis development which, for the first time on a production car, saw the integration between a handling set-up tuned for a level of responsiveness that is close to the limit and highly sophisticated electronic controls (Vehicle Dynamics Control). The result according to Ferrari is the almost complete absence of understeer and a truly communicative chassis. The driver-car interface is also new with the adoption of the Virtual Race Engineer (VRE) and manettino control systems (stability, traction, throttle, suspension settings) which provide the driver with instantaneous information on performance. The F1 style flappy pedal shifts are also longer for ease of use.
The 599 GTO's more aggressive character is also apparent in a number of styling elements that recall the 599XX. The 599 GTO is equipped with the latest, second-generation carbon-ceramic brakes which are lighter and offer better performance. The latest aerodynamic innovations, such as the internal wheel doughnuts (F1 cars in 2009 had external donuts if you looked at the F1 cars wheels) increase aerodynamic efficiency as well as improve brake cooling, and the bespoke Michelins include a wider front tyre size.
The GTO is also treated to some weight loss, more aerodynamic bodywork as the GTO generates downforce of 144 kg at 200 km/h, which includes a new front splitter, side sills, diffuser and rear spoiler. The vented hood is new, as well as the ten-spoke, 20-inch rims with the earlier stated F1-derived wheel donuts aiding aero efficiency.
As the new flagship in Ferrari's range, the 599 GTO is reported to have a price tag of around £300,000 and only 599 units will be offered. The technology offered in this car is epic so it is worth every penny that the lucky and chosen 599 owners will spend for it. Let me just drool a little as I don't think I will be buying or trying one any time soon.