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Wednesday 26th September 2012

PH Fleet: Ferrari 599

The finer points of Ferrari ownership are perhaps not so fine, but Chris Harris is still enjoying the ride



The more exotic the motor car, the more likely we are to forgive its shortcomings. When of course we shouldnít.

This is especially true in the world of the Italian supercar, most of which are built according to the first rule of Maranello: namely that you pay all the money for the glorious engine, and they throw the rest in for free. When you attempt to adjust a door mirror in a 612 Scaglietti and the knob completely detaches itself, you think this might be a believable explanation.

Peering at the small details of a car like the 599 can often be very disappointing. Take the key: a nasty lozenge of red plastic that has aged with all the grace of the Morris Italís centre console. The key is your first point of contact with a car. It should usher in the treats to follow. The 599ís key is horrid.

The car itself isnít. Ferrari made enormous gains in trim quality and cabin durability in the Noughties. This car feels far sturdier than my 612 and, for the most part, the buttons actually deliver the function allotted to them Ė again, something you couldn't always say about the 612.

Chamois would be quicker (and quieter)
Chamois would be quicker (and quieter)
Because these are occasional cars, people rarely scrutinise boring stuff like ergonomics or the basic competence of menial things like windscreen wipers. If they did, they would conclude that the 599 has simply terrible wipers. They clank and rattle (just like the ones in the 612 did, before they broke) and itís impossible to get them adjusted to a speed which will swish away a standard UK downpour.

What to make of this? Ignore it and simple enjoy that remarkable engine? Or look befuddled because Ferrari can make a massive V12 rev to 8500rpm, but cannot produce a functioning, quiet wiper system? In the rain, sadly itís the latter.

Brooding on the wipers, itís easy to conclude that Ferrari spends zero time actually sorting these cars for everyday use. You may even think that 200mph doesn't count for much if you canít get the basics right. Well, one look in a 599ís side mirrors eradicates all thoughts of Italian laziness: they are simply the best mirrors I have used Ė no mean feat when your hips are as wide a 599's. The glass is massive, the blue tint somehow makes everything look crisp, and theyíre heated. Someone spent a long time making them this good, and forgot about the wipers. I wonít mention the wipers again, honest.
Objects you see here may be less expensive
Objects you see here may be less expensive

The electric window switches are the last of the 456-style plastic hoops and they sometimes donít work unless you nudge them from just the right angle. About right for a £90k motor? Quite. On the debit side, the seats are just fantastic: big, supportive, endlessly adjustable and heated.

I am still learning the Becker hi-fi unitís controls. Sometimes it doesnít like me docking my iPhone, but thatís small beer compared to the glove-box mounted connector which is way too short and old enough not to want to charge an iPhone 4. Such is life.

The headlights are plenty good enough, and Iíve only had one ĎTotal Electrical Armageddon' warning on the dash. Having owed a few of these Fiats, I naturally completely ignored the message. It never returned. †

Itís a thrilling car to use for supposedly normal journeys. My only criticism of the motor is that above 50mph, you donít get any real exhaust noise in the cabin. Drop the windows a little (when they feel like obeying orders) and you suddenly realise what sultry music youíre leaving behind. I donít want the car to be any louder, Iíd just like some more of its existing music filtered into the cockpit.

Thirst is a problem. Keeping an accurate record would be far too depressing, but in normal use Iím seeing 10-12mpg. Employing the heavier clog sees that drop into single figures. A Prius it is not Ė a fact I celebrate each time I drive it.

One unexpected bonus of running carbon ceramic discs is the lack of corrosion if you leave the car outside for a few days. The mild steel discs on a 575 used to oxidise in a few hours and get nasty after a few days. These are fur-free. Use them hard and the pedal gets long Ė they donít fade badly, but require big pedal pressures and become hard to modulate.

So, 1500 miles in and Iíve discovered that the 599 is lacking in some minor details, pretty deficient in others and in possession of an outstanding engine. Everything changes and yet nothing changes.

Chris Harris
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Author Discussion

carinaman

Original Poster:

6,805 posts

52 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
A photo of the key would be useful, we could then see what you're on about. I am imagining something like a 90s Alfa key.

trickywoo

3,879 posts

110 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
How are the bike lessons going?

Don't have to worry about wipers there.

Rawwr

14,016 posts

114 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Harris said:
My only criticism of the motor is that above 50mph, you don’t get any real exhaust noise in the cabin. Drop the windows a little (when they feel like obeying orders) and you suddenly realise what sultry music you’re leaving behind. I don’t want the car to be any louder, I’d just like some more of its existing music filtered into the cockpit.
For a modest sum, you can employ me to drive it whilst you follow behind in a Nissan Leaf.

Crusoe

2,977 posts

111 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
carinaman said:
A photo of the key would be useful, we could then see what you're on about. I am imagining something like a 90s Alfa key.
Like this

NGK210

645 posts

25 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Guessing that the 599 anoraks' forum doesn't stoop to discussing exciting mod-finds, such as fitting MK4 Golf 'aero' wipers biglaugh
Advertisement

thepony

1,230 posts

45 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Crusoe said:
Like this
That key looks a little tatty compared to the one BMW supply for E46s :-)

MarJay

1,852 posts

55 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Wise man once say:

Ferraris are good cars, but the ferrari owner is always carrying a part of it in his pocket. Not the key, but a piece of trim, a switch, a mirror adjuster or some other interior acoutrement.

If you want utility buy a Porsche! biggrin

_Batty_

12,079 posts

130 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Chris have you used Rain X or similar? I know its like Marmite on these forums (their sponsorship of 'Brake' does little to help).
I find that a well rain-x'd screen can often do without wipers at all, (good job in my VX220!)
Just a thought. And thanks for the update smile

F-Stop Junkie

404 posts

80 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
For the iPhone charging, something like this should fix it.

Brighton Speed

177 posts

74 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
MarJay said:
Wise man once say:

Ferraris are good cars, but the ferrari owner is always carrying a part of it in his pocket. Not the key, but a piece of trim, a switch, a mirror adjuster or some other interior acoutrement.

If you want utility buy a Porsche! biggrin
Maybe, but after driving the old man's new Cayenne recently I have to say the view from the rear view mirror and door mirrors is terrible. I've seen bigger mirrors in ladies' handbsgs, and the Cayenne is anything but a small car.

As for the 599, bad wipers are always an issue in Blighty. Had a car with a single wiper conversion years ago and found the best way to clear the screen in a storm was to simply drive faster. Maybe you should try one of those windscreen treatment products Chris?

carinaman

Original Poster:

6,805 posts

52 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Thanks crusoe, it does look a bit like a key for a 156. smile

loudlashadjuster

1,070 posts

64 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
F-Stop Junkie said:
For the iPhone charging, something like this should fix it.
£25 LOL

Anyway, back to the 599 and I too am wondering why a set of aftermarket one-piece bendy wipers wouldn't just be the job. Worked wonders on my old Evo.

Blackpuddin

5,453 posts

85 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
_Batty_ said:
Chris have you used Rain X or similar? I know its like Marmite on these forums (their sponsorship of 'Brake' does little to help).
I find that a well rain-x'd screen can often do without wipers at all, (good job in my VX220!)
Just a thought. And thanks for the update smile
Apparently the new Macca P1 doesn't bother with wipers, its screen material clears rain automatically. Hope it clears tractor mud too.

robinessex

1,258 posts

61 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
_Batty_ said:
Chris have you used Rain X or similar? I know its like Marmite on these forums (their sponsorship of 'Brake' does little to help).
I find that a well rain-x'd screen can often do without wipers at all, (good job in my VX220!)
Just a thought. And thanks for the update smile
Works great on my car (not a Ferrari). Adding Silicon wiper blades is even better. That's just cost you a ride !!!!

Wolands Advocate

2,337 posts

96 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
carinaman said:
Thanks crusoe, it does look a bit like a key for a 156. smile
? Pretty certain my 156 GTA had a fold-away blade like a VAG key and looked considerably less like a novelty souvenir than that.

Root Ginger

31 posts

99 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
_Batty_ said:
Chris have you used Rain X or similar? I know its like Marmite on these forums (their sponsorship of 'Brake' does little to help).
I find that a well rain-x'd screen can often do without wipers at all, (good job in my VX220!)
Just a thought. And thanks for the update smile
Rain X is so 90's. Just stick a set of PIAA Silicone Wipers on it. The wipers leave a trace of silicone on the screen as they wipe so you get the Rain X effect without ever applying it. They last for years too. Currently have a set on the wife's Golf that have been on for 4 years at around 12K miles a year and are still as good as the day I got them.

I've been so impressed that all our cars have them fitted front and rear (where applicable) and is the first thing I change when I get a new car.

GranCab

491 posts

26 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Fit a pair of these - they'll sort out your wipers ...





getmecoat

GordonF430

165 posts

95 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
The key looks like my F430 one, which my mate took great excitement in pointing out was the same as his Fiat Punto key.......

garycat

2,129 posts

90 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Wasn't it the wipers on a 612 that drove Clarkson crazy on one of those cross-Europe Top Gear races. They made a constant buzzing noise IIRC.

braddo

3,826 posts

68 months

[news]
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Root Ginger said:
Rain X is so 90's. Just stick a set of PIAA Silicone Wipers on it. The wipers leave a trace of silicone on the screen as they wipe so you get the Rain X effect without ever applying it. They last for years too. Currently have a set on the wife's Golf that have been on for 4 years at around 12K miles a year and are still as good as the day I got them.

I've been so impressed that all our cars have them fitted front and rear (where applicable) and is the first thing I change when I get a new car.
I've learned something today. I'm going to try these. smile
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