Ferrari F12tdf vs. 599 GTO: Which is best?

6 years is what separates these two limited edtion, V12 Ferraris. So what has changed?

3y ago
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Two V12 symphonies!

As time passes, car manufacturers like to update and refresh their models every 5-or-so years. Recently, I had the opportunity to witness what changes were made to two very special cars, side by side namely, the Ferrari 599 GTO and the quite frankly bonkers F12tdf. But, I am only going to be speaking about aesthetic differences; those subtle features in and around the car to see what difference 5 years could really have.

The belly of the beasts

The belly of the beasts

What has changed under the bonnet?

Quite a lot actually. When the 599 GTO was launched, it had a 6-litre naturally aspirated V12 that could trace its roots right back to the Enzo. The GTO’s power plant produced 660bhp/493kW, in other words more than enough to send you though a hedge, should you feel a little too brave at some point. Fast forward to 2016 and Ferrari looked at the 599 GTO, said that it didn’t have enough power, and up the V12’s capacity to 6.3-litres and the power output to 770bhp/574kW. Let’s just say losing traction in a F12tdf is really not a struggle at all.

A lot has changed in terms of the rear design

A lot has changed in terms of the rear design

How about the way it delivers its power?

One thing that has remained the same with both cars is the rear-wheel drive system. However, Ferrari has introduced their Passo Corto Virtuale system, or rear-wheel steering to non-Italian people, on the F12tdf. Essentially what this does is make the car more agile, allowing the rear wheels to steer a few degrees in tandem with the front wheels. Not only does it aid agility, but it also promotes oversteer! Nuff said.

Did they make the same amount of each?

Indeed, they did not. As the name “599 GTO” would suggest, Ferrari only made 599 examples of the GTO world-wide. “F12tdf” only had the number 12 in it, and Ferrari customers (and fans) wouldn’t have been best pleased if they had only made 12 of these extraordinary machines. So, Ferrari decided to up the number by 200 and make 799 F12tdfs, to the satisfaction of all petrolheads’ eyes and ears.

Some of Ferrari's finest creations

Some of Ferrari's finest creations

The interior has probably changed, hasn’t it?

That would be correct. As you will no doubt know, the ergonomics, technology and overall quality within a car can change as quickly as a South African minister within 5 years. Since the introduction of the 458 Italia, Ferrari has stuck with all the buttons on the steering wheel with the F12tdf, not like the 599 GTO which has traditional stalks. Carbon fibre is clearly evident in both cars but the F12tdf has the addition of a lot more alcantara (this is obviously spec dependant).

They both have V12s, so do they sound differently?

There is actually a distinct different. As you can hear in the video above, even though they have the same configuration of cylinders, they do sound different. The 599 GTO has a more raw sound than the TDF, particularly at the higher revs. The F12tdf, on the other hand, has a more baritone approach to things. At idle, it’s got a lower rumble than the GTO and generally sounds more like Tom Jones than the 599 GTO does.

So, which one would I take home?

Oddly enough, I came into this experience thinking I’d like the GTO more. I suppose I liked that old school feel about it. However, having spending more time around the F12tdf and actually driving in it, there is no doubt in my mind that the F12tdf is so absolutely insane, that it would definitely be the one I whose keys I’d take.

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