The problem with the Ferrari's Manettino settings for the 599 is that the damping is too firm in sport mode, so you switch to winter mode, only to find the gearchange sluggish. 

Winter is the preferred setting for British roads. The car has excellent wheel travel, roll angles are well controlled and the steering – though pretty lifeless – is accurate. Its cruising credentials are excellent, although significant amounts of suspension and tyre noise do filter into the cabin at speed. 

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The GTO is far more focussed than the GTB, but loses some GT charm

There's not a lot wrong with the way the regular Ferrari 599 goes down the road, but the thinking behind the HGTE pack is still sound. The idea is to reduce pitch and roll, increase grip and traction, and generally make the car more controllable and exploitable to drive fast. Some comfort will inevitably be lost, and likewise some tyre life, but Ferrari reckons the 599 has some of each to spare.

Mooch around town in the 599 HGTE and it does feel mildly less supple than a regular 599, though it retains an ability to shrug off surface imperfections better than most high-powered GTs or supercars. Yes, on the worst B-roads it jiggles you around in the (fabulously supportive) driver's seat a little more than is ideal, but that's the worst of it.

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The HGTE's set-up is stiffer than a regular 599's, but it still doesn't skip or shimmy. It adds an extra dose of keenness and controllability to the 599 at the expense of what seems like precious little. It's a finely judged package, and a fabulous one even in the UK. Were we lucky enough to be speccing up a 599, we’d certainly tick the HGTE box. 

And if you can stretch to the GTO? Well, it is rather firmer even than the HGTE, and it shimmies a little where the regular car would float across bad surfaces, with the lightly weighted steering tugging at your fingers. But it does feel like it has race-car levels of body stiffness as the pay-off for that. 

 

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