There is a level of refinement in any Ferrari that goes far beyond what is normally expected from even the most exotic sports car. Whether it stems from the hyperactivity it requires to produce F1 dominating race cars year after year, or a passion for perfection rooted in the original vision of Enzo Ferrari himself, to drive a Ferrari is to drive the essence of all that is good in high performance motoring.
My re-acquaintance with this fact took shape in the form of two security guards at the entrance to Carmel Valley Ranch just outside Carmel, California. Accustomed to guests arriving in fancy cars, they took a few steps back as I pulled forward and I watched as unusually wide eyes and broad smiles greeted my arrival.
Nothing puts a grin on your face faster than a Ferrari, especially when it is one as unique as the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. That beaming mug you left behind will still be there hours later upon your return.
A 5999cc 65° V12 rests under the elongated front hood of the 599 GTB Fiorano. Derived from the mighty Enzo engine, it develops a gut wrenching 620 horsepower at 7,600 rpm and 448 lb-ft of torque at 5,600 rpm. Only a handful of elite vehicles would test their luck against such a brute when the light turns green.
Driving the 599 GTB Fiorano is as uncomplicated as driving any other car on the road. Seriously. Place the car in Auto mode and the 6-speed transmission shifts without incident. Top gear is achieved at the earliest possible moment to improve fuel economy. Getting groceries couldn’t be more fun.
Of course, cruising in and out of shopping mall parking lots isn’t the point of this Gran Turismo Berlinetta from Maranello, Italy. Some would even say it borders on being sacrilegious.
Not to worry Ferrari faithful. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is achieved in a mere 3.7 seconds, while 0-200 km/h flashes past in 11 seconds. Top speed exceeds 330 km/h.
Mated to an F1 gearbox; manual shifts are completed in 100 millisecond intervals. Pininfarina penned the sculpted aluminum body, but the inside of a racing helmet gave the 599 GTB Fiorano the heart of a champion.
Carmel, California and the surrounding Monterey Peninsula provided the perfect setting for stretching the unfathomable limits of this car. Legendary roads such as 17-Mile Drive begin at Carmel-by-the-sea. Turn south and a 26 mile jaunt on Hwy 1 leads to Big Sur.
Carmel Valley Ranch is situated east of the city on 1,700 pristine acres of forested land. The AAA Four-Diamond property encompasses 400 acres in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains. A golf and tennis destination of renown, the resort is currently undergoing guest room renovations that are sure to place it in the upper echelons of northern California hideaways.
Pete Dye designed the championship 18-hole golf course. A recent investment of more than 4 million dollars improved the original layout, challenging players on emerald green fairways located in what is referred to as the sunniest side of the Monterey Peninsula.
All-suite rooms define the resort’s guest accommodations. Views from the balcony are stunning, especially at sunrise and sunset. Fog rolls in fast from the sea, providing a hushed ambiance to the luscious backdrop. Deer wander the outlying hills as do wild turkeys, forcing even a Ferrari driver to slow down and appreciate the natural wooded surroundings.
Inside the 599 GTB Fiorano, sculpted leather and carbon fibre seats capture the imagination and help put it into practice. Form fitting and graceful in appearance, additional electronics allow side bolsters to be drawn in for added support. A 3-spoke perforated leather and carbon fibre steering wheel houses the engine start button on the left and a dial to adjust the F1-Trac system on the right.
Electromagnetic damping control constantly adjusts the suspension, taking into account body roll and changes brought about by weight transfer. Pirelli tires are oversized; 245/40 19” in front, 305/35 20” in the rear. Bumps and potholes are easily felt through the seat, but less so than in several other exotics in this range.
Driving the northern coast of California near Carmel in a Ferrari is an experience that almost defies description.
Throwing the 599 GTB Fiorano around blind corners, tight “S” bends and rolling hills was heavenly. The hardest part was keeping my emotions in check. At one point, I was so caught up in the moment, I didn’t even notice the crashing waves and goose bump inspiring scenery just outside my passenger window. Ducati motorcycles, Porsche 911’s and Boxster’s were left in the dust, only to contemplate what had passed them with such ease.
Two hours later I found myself back at the main gates of Carmel Valley Ranch late for dinner. Not surprisingly, the two security guards were still smiling and waving me through with open arms. It seems I wasn’t the only one enjoying what it means to experience the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano in person.