Car Sport

The Best Sports Car in the World?

With the return of the legendary 'GTO' badge to a Ferrari for 2010, the question being asked by most people familiar with sports cars and Ferrari in particular is, 'is this the best sports car in the world?'

The model lucky enough to get the GTO treatment and wear the badge is Ferrari's two seat flagship the 599 GTB Fiorano. The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano was introduced in 2006 to replace the 575 Maranello. In it's first year the 599 won the Evo car of the year, Evo being the premiere Magazine in Britain focusing on driver oriented cars and a global authority on performance cars.

So the 599 GTB was already a great supercar when it first appeared in 2006, featuring a 5999cc V12 positioned at the front of the car longitudinally. It develops 611bhp and 448lb ft of torque and all of that power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a 6 speed manual transmission or Ferrari's 6 speed 'F1 Superfast' automated manual transmission with paddle shifters.

The 599 GTB also features magnetorheological dampers which are dampers filled with magnetorheological fluid and controlled by a magnetic field. So by varying the strength of the electromagnet emitting the magnetic field you can adapt individual dampers to continuously altering conditions. This semi active suspension is critical on the 599 GTB in compensating for the basic physics of having the engine out in front of you feeding the driving wheels behind you.

The 599 GTB Fiorano is capable of reaching 60mph from rest in 3.5 seconds and can go on to reach 100mph 2.9 secs later, so from 0 to 100mph in 7.4 secs. It also has a top speed of 205mph.

The only 2 other cars to wear the GTO badge were the race bred 250 GTO in 1962 band the 288 GTO in 1984, both of which are rare and extremely sought after these days. GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologata and derives from the 2 previous models which were built as homologation specials to allow Ferrari to race them.

The 599 GTO gets the detuned version of the race car spec 599XX 722bhp engine but still produces 670bhp with 457 lb ft of torque. The transmission is a 6 speed paddle shift auto manual with an uprated 60 millisecond gear change time. This will allow the car to hit 60mph in 3.35 secs and will probably be able to hit 100mph from standstill in 6.5 secs and will go on to hit 208mph.

The 599 GTO has a bespoke 6 into 1 exhaust manifold and no doubt will sound fantastic. The underside of the car has also seen some changes to allow the maximum amount of down force to be generated with the minimum amount of drag, so there are no overt or obvious racetrack addenda such as a high rear wing but still the car can generate 144kg of down force at 120mph.

In order to extract the maximum performance from all areas of the car, the Ferrari relies heavily on its VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) system and it's F1-Trac traction control to exploit the chassis's razor sharp responses. The car relies on the constant adjustments being made its electronic systems to keep everything in check and pointing forward (or sideways if you are a particularly talented driver).

The result of all of this refinement is a lap time set by the 599 GTO around the Ferrari test track of Fiorano that is 0.9 secs faster than that of the Ferrari Enzo which is a proper mid engined hypercar. So the performance of the 599 GTO is astounding but the real test will be whether that performance can be translated into a truly great driving experience given that there is so much electronic wizardry going on. Only time will tell.

The 599 GTO does however deliver breathtaking performance both on and off of the track but is it enough to become the best sports car in the world?