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Oct 30, 2006
The 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano grips the road like a slot car. - ForbesLife
The 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano grips the road like a slot car.












 






It's sometimes said that Ferraris are for egomaniacs. Settling into the plush leather interior of the new
599 GTB Fiorano with its light aluminum-based chassis and 620 hp engine, one becomes convinced it's true. Riding this machine is an experience in mortality, high aesthetics, and nice leather work. In short, the perfect Italian experience.

 And hence we test drove this rocket in the mother country. Driving out of the Ferrari factory in the northern town of Maranello, the first thing we noted was the smoothness of the ride; even approaching a buck-fifty on the uneven surfaces of the autostrada there was little discernible vibration. Much of this consistency is due to the Fiorano's suspension system, which can be micro-adjusted using a four-setting dial on the steering wheel. The gradations of stiffness are roughly these: "pass the snowplow," "fast," "very fast" and "mandatory suspended license."

The Fiorano uses the usual Ferrari shift paddles on the sides of the steering wheel, and the new Formula One--derived gearbox responds in microseconds, creating a hair trigger between gears. An override button on the dash puts the car into automatic shift mode, however, just in case one needs a free hand for the cappuccino.

On the outside, the Fiorano simply looks fast, even sitting still.  But with discreet flying buttresses behind the rear windows, finned undercarriage and camouflaged wind ducts, the machine has more hidden angles than a prenuptial agreement. All of this aerodynamic engineering creates so much down force that the Fiorano grips the road like a slot car, even in hairpin turns. (Later, when jetting up to 200 mph through the Ferrari racetrack--0 to 62 in 3.7 seconds--we felt more secure than when driving the carpool Hummer around a cul-de-sac.)</P> <P>We got so carried away with the Fiorano test-drive that somewhere on the autostrada north of Modena we noted a blue blur, which we passed going 120 mph in a 60 mph zone. We slowed down to await the inevitable long arm of the law, and sure enough, the local carabinieri came up alongside for a closer look. But rather than pull us over, they gave us a big thumbs-up before waving us forward to continue our merry rocketry. And why not? In Italy, driving this car slow is probably as vulgarly self-abnegating as taking a public vow of chastity at the Playboy Mansion. We didn't want to appear rude.

The Fiorano makes its U.S. debut this month with a price tag of $260,000--$270,000. There's already a two-year waiting list. www.ferrariworld.com.











 

   
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