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Ferrari 599 HGTE

Road Test

Ferrari 599 HGTE

Driven April 2009

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Your standard Ferrari 599 Fiorano is the most compelling front-engined rear-drive supercar I've ever driven. But now Ferrari is telling me the new HGTE pack will make it even more bewitching on a fast, committed drive.

It's not radical what they've done. Just thorough and beautifully developed. The springs and anti-roll bars are a bit stiffer, the wheels lighter and the tyre compound stickier. The software for the suspension's adaptive dampers is recalibrated. There's no more power (620bhp is enough, eh?), though the exhaust is more bass-heavy.

But the result feels even more agile than standard. It can take a series of tight corners like some imaginary hyper-grippy hyper-powered MX-5. And the new damper settings give it amazing body control, whether you're flick-flacking through a track chicane or charging down some bucking country road.

But it gets better. The HGTE isn't just under such perfect control of itself that you're in control of it. You also feel confident in it. Not just because its traction and anti-spin electronics are borderline-supernatural. But because it communicates so well.

That's where it opens out a huge lead over any V12 Aston or the SLR or ZR1 or AMG Black. I drove it on the road in the dry, in sheeting rain and on everything in between. I even tried it on a damp Fiorano track that felt like it had been freshly buttered.

The HGTE made me feel like a hero. But the heroism is the car's. 

Paul Horrell

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