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. For some extremists, however, even a car as superb as the 599 isn’t completely up to scratch.

Common criticisms of the 599 is that the car leans too heavily into corners when pushed to the limits, which in turn reduces turn in and leads to slower lap times. Ferrari engineers have analysed the problem and as they have done with the 575 and 612 before it, the 599 can now be ordered with a new track focused handling package. Called the Handling Grand Turismo Evoluzione (HGTE), the new upgrade was first revealed at March’s Geneva Motor Show.

The HGTE package is designed to deliver even sportier, more dynamic driving. The technical modifications introduced include 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.

Furthermore, 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.

The end result is a 0-100km/h time of just 3.7 seconds and a new lap time for Ferrari’s famed Fiorano test track of 1m 26.5s – only 1.5s slower than the lighter and stiffer F430 Scuderia street-legal race car.

From a styling point of view, the HGTE package includes some distinctively sporty exterior and interior features with carbon-fiber widely used throughout the bodywork. The 20in split-rim wheels are new, and are available with a special diamond-cut 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”.

Below is a list of Fiorano lap times for some important Ferraris:
F2008 F1 car - 59.1s
F430 Scuderia - 1m 23.9s
Enzo – 1m 24.9s
599 HGTE – 1m 26.5s
F50 – 1m 27s
F430 – 1m 27s
F40 – 1m 29.6s

Ferrari in the UK has also just announced the HGTE pack will be available as an aftermarket option for £17,213 (US$28,000) or £19,703 (US$33,000). The more expensive pack comes with handling improvements, better exhaust, more performance, and aesthetic touches, while the less expensive one misses out on the performance benefits. A full run-down of the benefits are listed below.

1) Handling, includes:
* Lower suspension (10mm)
* New magnetorheologically controlled suspension calibration for the Manettino SPORT and RACE configurations
* More rigid suspension springs (front + 17%, rear + 15%)
* More rigid rear anti-roll bars (diameter increased to 25mm)
* HGTE specific tyres with improved compound (8% more grip)
* 3-piece modular rims with reduced weight (forged spokes) and special new design

2) Performance (only available for post-2008 cars, from engine no. 122779), includes:
* New exhausts silencers with two-tone finish tailpipes
* Enhanced F1 gearshift actuation, with response times reduced to 85ms
* New accelerator logic with modified mapping for improved throttle response

N.B. The Performance kit cannot be installed on cars with manual gearboxes.

3) Exhaust, includes:
* New exhausts silencers with two-tone finish tailpipes

The Exhaust kit is designed for:
* vehicles that cannot receive the software updates listed in the Performance kit since the engine was produced before assembly number 122779 (pre-2008)
* all cars with manual gearboxes
* clients who are only interested in modifying the styling and sound of their own cars

N.B. The Exhaust kit is included in the Performance kit, for cars post-2008.

4) Aesthetic, includes:
* New design front grille with a special chromatic treatment
* Burnished finish to Prancing Horse symbols on the front grill and rear boot lid