Though the California convertible has grabbed almost all the attention paid to Ferrari in the media recently, the 599 GTB is still just as formidable and attractive as it was the day it hit the streets. However, never one to rest on their laurels, the men and women in Maranello have plans to make it even more desirable at the Geneva Motor Show.

As it has done with the 575 and 612 before it, Ferrari has developed a new track focused handling package for the car. Called the Handling Grand Turismo Evoluzione (HGTE), the new upgrade will help add some spice to the 599 as it draws toward the end of its product cycle.

The HGTE package is designed to deliver even sportier, more dynamic driving. The technical modifications introduced includes a modified set-up with stiffer springs and rear anti-roll bar as well as new calibration settings for the magnetorheological shock absorbers when the manettino is at its sportier settings. The ride height has been lowered, which in turn lowers the car’s centre of gravity. The package also includes specifically optimised tires featuring a compound that offers even better grip.

The car’s electronics have also evolved to ensure even more prompt response to driver commands. The F1 gearbox’s shifts are now even faster in high-performance settings, while a new engine software strategy has improved accelerator response.

From a styling point of view, the package includes some distinctively sporty exterior and interior features with carbon-fiber widely used throughout the bodywork. The 20in split-rim wheels are new with a special diamond-cut and matte silver finish. The rear diffuser is finished in matte black to underscore the car’s new set-up and highlight the chromed tail pipes. The cabin is sportier too thanks to a mix of full-grain leather, black Alcantara and carbon-fiber trim. Embroidered in contrasting stitching on the headrest are a Prancing Horse and the words “Handling GTE”.

Also on show in Geneva is a preview of the ‘Laboratorio Technologico’ 599XX experimental car. The oddly named show car is described as a technological laboratory aimed at a select group of clients. It will incorporate the most advanced technologies resulting from Ferrari’s road-going and F1 research, with many elements appearing for the first time. Similar to previous FXX model, Ferrari will be organising a programme of dedicated track events for the 599XX in 2010 and 2011.

While based on the 599 GTB Fiorano with the same transaxle layout and engine type, this prototype is an extreme track car. Ferrari’s engineers have carried out extensive work on the engine’s combustion chambers and inlet and exhaust tracts. These modifications helped achieve the target power output of 700hp (522kW) at 9,000 rpm. Particular attention was also paid to cutting the weight of the engine unit components. This was achieved both by optimising forms – as in the new crankshaft – and adopting exclusive materials, as in the carbon-fiber used for the intake plenums. A new gearbox shift strategy cuts overall gearchange times to just 60ms.

The 599XX’s aerodynamics were honed in numerous wind tunnel test sessions with the result that the car now boasts 280kg of downforce at 200 km/h (630kg at 300 km/h). The front underside of the body is completely faired-in and the vents that channel hot air from the engine bay have been moved to the bonnet.

Winglets have been added to the rear buttresses to increase downforce, while synthetic jets have also been incorporated into the rear of the car to control and smooth the air flow and to reduce drag.

Ferrari’s engineers have also used F1-derived “doughnuts” which partly cover the brake discs and wheel rim. These have the dual function of improving both aerodynamics and brake cooling.

Conceived exclusively for track but not official competition use, and thus unrestricted by racing regulations, the car incorporates the very best of Ferrari technology. The multitude of aerodynamic, electronic control and handling innovations used together for the first time on a single car make this model a genuine technological laboratory. The solutions adopted for the 599XX – many of which will remain exclusive to it - enhance its levels of performance and can be summed up in one highly relevant statistic: a Fiorano lap time of just 1 minute and 17 seconds.


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