The fact that V12s are a vanishing breed has created even more of an aura around them and their bastard-rich owners. The fact that I am more a Ferrari rear-V8 fan doesn't humble me personally, but it does make me a wuss in the eyes of anyone who's really into Ferraris. Gotta do the V12, though, if you're to live the lifelong dream. No matter what you may give up in track day dynamics. Just make sure the track you're on has long straights and you'll clobber anyone else on Earth.
While there isn't a lot you can do to a front-mount V12 Ferrari to make it a real star at tight circuits or for frenzied getaways from the CHP on 17 Mile Drive after mugging Clint Eastwood (personal experience), you can add two superchargers to it just because. And so we come to Novitec Rosso's current raison d'tre: the two belt-driven Rotrex superchargers clamped to the F140C 65-degree V12. Why? Like I said: because.
Wolfgang Hagedorn started all this adventure in the manured fields of Stetten in Swabia back in 1989, upgrading Fiats. Easy to do actually, if you've ever driven a stock Fiat from that period. Then in '96 Hagedorn moved up to the Eastside and began upgrading Alfas. But he dreamed of Ferraris.
Starting in 2003, Novitec Rosso started selling its first supercharged Ferraris with the 360 Modena. The only previous V12 treatment Novitec had done prior to this 599 was on the Enzo in 2005--which ain't bad for starters--so they have experience with the engine.
Novitec takes the 599 with optional F1 shifting and amps it up while also making it look the business. Starting with the lowbrow data, horsepower in Stetten shifts upward from the standard car's 612 hp at 7600 rpm to now 797 hp at 7800 rpm, a 30 percent leap. Then the all-important (and forever underappreciated and misunderstood) torque moves from 448 lb-ft peaking at 5600 rpm to a crushing 607 lb-ft at 6300 rpm, a 35 percent leap. Acceleration to 62 mph (i.e., 100 km/h) jumps down to 3.5 seconds, while top speed stays relatively the same. Last I checked, 208 mph was plenty fast.
The stars of the show, apart from the mandatory ECU tweaks and higher-flow port injectors, are the two compact C38-81-type traction-drive Rotrex superchargers with external silicone oil pumps. Max boost pressure is actually rather discreet at just 5.7 psi, but again look what you're dealing with; this V12 doesn't need much coaxing to scare the crap out of any chassis. Massaging the throughput like this also allowed Novitec Rosso to shy away from lowering the 11.2:1 compression ratio. Hence also the ability to maintain the highly desirable, high-revving exhaust note for which most Ferrari owners are Ferrari owners. Helping make this possible without frying the whole deal is a new pair of double-the-capacity water-to-air intercoolers with extra watercoolers tacked on.
As a result of all this noble workmanship, I was able to get my yah-yahs out all over the local autobahn and through hill and dale on the two-lanes. Whereas the weight of the steering on the stock 599 is too lightweight, especially for highway cruising, I didn't bother to even notice this defect here, so intent was I on making music with the new Fuchs stainless steel quad exhaust with its bypass valves and 3.5-inch diameter tips. As you can surmise, throttle response is freakin' awesome now and it functions to perfection when mated to the 100-millisecond fastest shifts of the F1-Superfast gearbox. (The 70-millisecond shifts of the latest version on the 430 Scuderia would work even better, but that'll be in the next higher trim version from Maranello and come possibly, finally, with seven speeds in 2010.)
Novitec Rosso has elected to not play with the MagneRide SCM setup and has opted for a switcheroo to a two-way adjustable coilover suspension. The solution is astoundingly happiness-inducing if you like a hint of hardcore at all times, but I do really like the SCM from the factory. Both the adjustable dampers and new denser springs come from KW and can set the 599 anywhere from 0.8 to 1.6 inches lower than what Maranello gives you. My car was set at the lowest level and I admit that it looks sufficiently badass. Drives badass, too.
Generally Novitec also hesitates to toy with wheel camber and steering caster, seeing as Ferrari certainly knows what it's doing in these departments. What Novitec has done, besides lowering everything nicely to get all the sprung weight more between the axles nearer their level, is switch out the standard wheelset, the standard being 19-inch front with 245/40 Pirelli P Zeros and 20-inch rears with 305/35s. Now the front wears 9x20 cast three-piece Novitec NF3s with 275/30 Pirelli P Zero Rossos, with 1.6 inches more track due to spacers, and the rear has 12.5x21s with 355/25s and the same 0.8-inch spacer behind each wheel. Again, the result is as you might imagine with noticeably crisper handling requiring a noticeably crisper pilot at the wheel.
All the Germans have touched on the interior is the steering wheel, F1 shifter paddles, and the pedal set. The Novitec Rosso Supersport steering wheel takes the Ferrari framework and bends it to be a flat-bottom unit coated in carbon fiber and velvety Alcantara. Meanwhile, the paddles for the F1-Superfast are now big and beautiful and carbon fiber--just as with the Maserati GranTurismo S paddles I couldn't stop caressing. They make shifting much easier in hairpins besides being sexually arousing. The entire pedal set is done in brushed aluminum and the form of the pedals is more pleasing to my choosy feet.
Outside the NR 599, fiberglass has had its way with a new front splitter, a new rear diffuser and splitter, new lower side panels rear of the door openings with larger intakes, and wider-looking side skirts. The lighting elements all around get the smoked treatment, too, so the package looks all one piece and, I repeat, badass. A rear wing can be ordered as well, but I would vote heartily against this unnecessary zit. All these bits and pieces can be ordered in carbon fiber as well at double the cost.
Stopping all of this show-and-go is surprisingly enough not the outstanding optional Ferrari CCM ceramic brake set from Brembo. But hardly willing to just dump on you with the standard iron discs at 13.9-inch front and 12.9-inch rear, Novitec Rosso installs its own tested and true Brembo performance set at 16 inches both front and rear with six-piston calipers all around and braided lines. The braking is awesome to go along with the awesome forward motion. Wouldn't change a thing, especially if it meant having squealing teenage ceramics while trying to sneak up on Clint Eastwood in the dark.
Speaking of which, the manettino on the 599 steering wheel has been toyed with just a touch so far as the exhaust flaps are concerned. In either the slippery or snow setting to the left, the tranny stays in lower-rev second gear while creeping along and closes the bypass valves to silence the whole while in crowded neighborhoods with hot-tempered citizens. Other software add-ons are 1.6-inch hydraulic front lifters, activated via a dedicated center console button, to help avoid expensive bruised chins.
The drive can only be described as sublime in its non-sublimity. The best strategy is to stay high up in the sweet zone between 6000 and 8000 rpm at all times. That's tough to live with every day, sure, but I can't see anyone driving this pit bull every day. Novitec Rosso has actually taken the 599 and made it much more of the car we all want all Ferraris to be.
Expensive? As you see it here, roughly $85,000 of expensive added to the cost of the car itself.
Novitec Rosso 599 GTB Fiorano Bi-Kompressor
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
6.0-liter V12, dohc, 48-valve. Twin Rotrex superchargers (5.7 psi max boost), enlarged intercoolers, NR carbon-fiber airboxes and sport air filters, competition exhaust manifolds, NR software
Six-speed F1-Superfast sequential manual, Marelli software
Two-way infinitely adjustable KW coilover dampers
Six piston monoblock calipers with 16-inch drilled rotors front and rear, steel braided flex lines
*Wheels and Tires
NR NF3 alloys, 9.0x20 (f), 12.5x21 (r)Pirelli P Zero Rosso, 275/30 (f), 355/25 (r)
Front splitter, rear diffuser with splitter, side skirts, rear side panels with larger intakes
Alloy pedal set, NR Supersport steering wheel in carbon fiber, carbon-fiber shift paddles
Peak Power: 797 hp @ 7800 rpm
Peak Torque: 607 lb-ft @ 6300 rpm
0-62 mph: 3.5 sec.
Top Speed: 208 mph
Claus Ettensberger Corp.