Chris Chilton Auto Car on the 575 HTC
Like the similar system fitted to the Maserati Coupé, or even the humble Smart, the 575’s F1 transmission requires learning and commitment but can be rewarding, if ultimately not as satisfying as a proper clack-clack manual. Waiting for the oil to warm in the morning, perfecting that roll onto a blipped throttle on the way down the ’box or just savouring that interaction of tried-and-trusted mechanicals; all these are fundamental to the Ferrari experience in my book, but it seems those of you with the funds to buy these cars disagree. Eighty per cent of UK 575s are F1-equipped; for the Scaglietti, the figure is nearer 90 per cent and rising. In a quiet moment, one very senior engineer suggests he’d drop the manual option tomorrow if only the marketing department would allow it. The chrome stick may still have a couple of years left, but future Ferraris will ditch conventional cast-iron brakes for carbon-ceramics, and judging by our experience with this car, they’re unlikely to be missed. Forget what you heard about poor progression and pedal feel on other carbon-ceramic applications: here they’re strong and full of feel right to the point where the anti-lock intervenes. There’s better news to come, though, because as we pick up the pace climbing higher into the hills, the initially stiff-legged suspension settles, and bar the odd mid-corner bump that can set the tail skipping, it takes on a far more compliant air. But it’s the asphyxiating control over body movements that most impresses, quickly shrinking this big, heavy car to MX-5 proportions. The steering is mostly perfectly weighted, and it effervesces rather than writhes 911-style, dispatching all but the tightest of bends with the merest flick of the wrist. With fingers rarely out of range of the slim column-mounted gear-shift paddles and a serpentine ribbon of Tarmac snaking ahead, right now there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be. Entertainment is one thing, but value is another altogether – particularly when all of that work is largely hidden beneath an all but identical vista. Still, few would baulk at the thought of paying 10 per cent over the odds for a BMW M3 that had received the same sort of attention. With the Scaglietti so ably staking its claim on the GT end of the market, the 575 has never made more sense.