Finally, the time arrives. The Enzo's front-hinged scissor/gullwing door extends down into the sill to make ingress and egress somewhat easier, but you still have to drop yourself into the firm racing-style seat. Because the door wraps over almost to mid-roof, you have to mind your head when closing it. We're able to slide the seat back and forth manually, but owners also can customize the fit by specifying one of four widths for the seatback and the bottom; the two floor-hinged pedals and footrest configure sixteen different ways (variable height and placement for the pedals and two sizes for the footrest).
Although the windshield is narrow and the seats are close together, the cabin is wide and not at all confining. Aside from a few patches of leather, the interior is a festival of carbon fiber. Some control oddities: What look like horn buttons actually operate the turn signals, the horn switch is in the steering wheel rim, and the windows are crank-operated.
The car has been left running, and the air conditioning is blowing furiously, battling the midsummer heat. I release the handbrake under my left thigh and get the signal to go.
I pull into the straight, and the roar of the engine rises up behind my ears in a glorious growl. The steering wheel LEDs light up, and I tap the carbon fiber paddle for second gear. As I approach the first hairpin, the brakes slow the car so quickly that I end up braking much too early, just as executive editor Mark Gillies predicted in his pre-departure Fiorano track briefing.
Up to third, fourth, then back down to third, second--the paddle shift is a miracle, essential for its super-quick, clutch-free, almost thought-free shifts. (The transmission varies the speed of its gearchanges based on throttle angle and engine speed.) Steering is fantastic, quick, direct, perfectly weighted. And, unlike some supercars, the Enzo is easy to see out of.
But above it all is that engine. The Enzo accelerates so fiercely that there seems to be no place to hold your foot down for more than a moment before the next corner comes rushing up to the windshield right now. That's what 650 horsepower will do for you. We're told that lighter reciprocating parts in the new V-12 make for less inertia and quicker revving, not that you have to light up the steering wheel LEDs to get a lot out of this engine. At 3000 rpm, the V-12 is already pushing out 383 pound-feet of torque, with 485 pound-feet coming at 5500 rpm.
We come flying down the straight, which seems to shorten so fast it could be telescoping under the car. Deep into the brakes this time--they're a little strange-feeling at the top of the pedal travel but heroically strong and easy to modulate the harder you're using them. The anti-lock system tries to interfere as little as possible--even letting through a brief bit of lock-up toward the end of a hard stop.
The brake discs are made of carbon-ceramic material, a first on a Ferrari street car and one of the Enzo's most notable adoptions of Formula 1 technology. The Brembo-supplied braking system uses four fifteen-inch discs squeezed by six-piston aluminum calipers at the front and four-piston calipers at the rear. Ferrari claims four advantages to this exotic componentry: low weight, fade-free performance with consistent pedal effort and travel, long disc life, and perfect dimensional stability for a near-total absence of vibration.