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599 miles in a Ferrari 599

One of the world’s most breathtaking cars faces the UK’s most challenging roads in a 24-hour epic drive. How did it fare?

There's plenty to catch the eye in Bala. Not least the peaks of Snowdonia and a lake four miles long and a mile wide.

But today, the tourists are distracted by something man-made. Creeping through this sleepy town in north Wales, its 6.0-litre V12 burbling with intent, is a white Ferrari 599 HGTE bearing the registration plate
F1 GTE. Against the backdrop of stone farmhouses, tractors and pick-up trucks, it’s as incongruous as a supermodel going speed-dating at the local village hall.

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As children point and shout, we feel very self-conscious – but not because of the attention. In fact, we’re perilously low on fuel. And spluttering to a halt on the high street would not be a good look. It’s then that we spot two pumps attached to the side of a house – the Henblas Garage. Self-service? Not likely. The owner, a friendly lady in her mid-50s, completes the timewarp by filling up the car herself. “We don’t get many of these around here,” she says. “How much does it cost?” With all the options, £230k. “Oh. My. Good. God.”

As she gets over the shock, she innocently adds in a thick Welsh lilt: “Is it good to drive then?” That’s what we’re here to find out. The 599 HGTE is an even more focused version of the 205mph standard car, boasting £13,960 of chassis, gearbox and trim upgrades designed to give the driving experience an extra edge. But does it still qualify as a grand tourer? Can it cosset one minute and excite the next? Some of the UK’s most challenging roads should tell us. And it just so happens that we’ve worked out a route from Ferrari’s UK base in Slough, Berks, through Wales and back which covers 599 miles – and we’re going to attempt to do it in a day...

To read the full story pick up a copy of the latest issue, available from Wednesday 26th May.

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