Evolving the 550M, arguably one of the best-handling front-engined cars on earth, should have presented Ferrari with an open goal. Yet, against all odds, it managed to punt over the bar from six yards.
Prone to thunking its nose at the merest hint of an undulation and with a back end so soft that I almost swallowed the leather off the seat base when I turned into my first fast right-hander at Goodwood two years ago, it suffered the ignominy of taking second-to-last place at our Best Handling Cars contest that year. This proved beyond doubt that heritage is no guarantee of excellence.
The subsequent suspension tweaks of the later Fiorano pack – a £2215 option for UK cars – did much to assuage our initial criticism, but with track days becoming yet more popular, Ferrari felt it was time to turn up the wick one more time.
Ferrari 575M With Handling GTC Pack ranks as one of the least sexy monikers ever attached to a car wearing the Prancing Horse, but it signals a 575 that goes, stops and steers like no other, bar the fully bewinged 575 GTC racers.
At £16,450 on top of the price of a standard 575 (£154,350) you’re looking at roughly eight times the price of the Fiorano kit, but bear in mind that half of that figure is accounted for by colossal carbon-ceramic brakes which we’ve seen bolted to Enzo and Challenge Stradale hubs before but are here on a front-engined Ferrari for the first time.
Boosted to 398mm compared with 330mm for the standard cast iron equivalents, the front discs are clasped by six-pot callipers. The rears grow 50mm to 360mm. All the usual claims are made: big reductions in noise, thermal deformation, fade and wear rate – reckon on 300 hot laps of Fiorano – making them ideal for the sort of track-day and heavy road work the GTC is designed for.
Other mooted benefits include better performance in wet weather and a 10kg per corner drop in unsprung weight. They may look dirty compared with conventional rotors, and they lack the glorious sparkle of a freshly honed iron disc, but the visual impact of filling the wheel centres to absolute bursting point is hard to deny. Those five-spoke split rims are new, too.
At 19 inches they are one size up from the standard issue, and they are wrapped in bespoke and very sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber – 255/35 at the sharp end and 305/30 out back. Visually, though, that’s pretty much your lot.
New and lighter exhaust silencers unleash a few more dB – if no more power – from what has always been a surprisingly ordinary-sounding engine; careful attention to software mapping has optimised the shift pattern of the optional F1 transmission.
With the console-mounted Sport button selected, shifts are now somewhere between those of a Stradale and a Scaglietti. Otherwise it’s the same 65-degree V12 delivering 508bhp at 7250 and 434lb ft of churn at 5250rpm from 5748cc.
Adequate then, you’d think, even with the same 1730kg of metal to hulk around as the standard car.Ferrari’s figures put the F1 version slightly ahead in a straight line, but the difference (4.2sec to 62mph compared with 4.25sec for the stick car) is so small as to be inconsequential.
Certainly it’s not shy on the pony count – but while it sounds satisfyingly meatier at idle, issuing a deeper, edgier tone than standard, and just manages to stay the right side of boomy on the overrun, with our ears ringing with the shrill metallic tune of the various 360s floating around Modena, my neck coiffurry remained resolutely unmoved.