By on January 4, 2004

 You expect a Ferrari Enzo to be quick; a "slow supercar" is as much of an oxymoron as a "fast moped". You also expect an Enzo to be temperamental; Ferrari freely admits that post-delivery mechanical malfunctions are an integral part of the development process. But most of all, you expect it to be beautiful. Think of it this way: if the $650k Enzo wasn't beautiful, everyone who saw one would consider its owner a fool.

Benny Caiola Jr. is no fool. Saying that, would you lend your Ferrari Enzo to a stranger? Before you answer, consider this: the New York property developer owns two of them. And an F40, F40LM, F50, 333SP, 512BB, 575M, 456, 355, Dino, four 360s, a Lamborghini Diablo and Murcielago, Pagani Zonda, Porsche GT2 and Aston Martin Vanquish. So even if a visiting journalist somehow carved his place in automotive infamy, Benny wouldn't be taking the bus…

 Anyway, as I approach Benny's Enzo, I respect the man's taste. With the exception of its round tail lights and the prancing horse emblem embedded in the rear mesh, the Enzo doesn't share a single design cue with its predecessors. Yet it's unmistakably Ferrari. The F1-style nose gets all the press, but it's the Enzo's blend of exquisite details and balanced proportions that creates its brand-specific charisma. To say the end result is aesthetically appealing is like saying Enrico Caruso could carry a tune.

The Enzo's melody starts with a ferocious bark. Ferrari's largest ever V12 (in a passenger car) quickly settles into an idle with so much low frequency bass you'd swear an alien mother ship was hovering overhead. The cockpit's eight steering wheel-mounted buttons, seven rev lights, oversized analogue speedo and tachometer, glowing digital display, traditional column stalks and bat-eared paddle shifts present a formidable challenge to a human operator. Fortunately, the carbon fibre seats provide a comfortable perch from which to sort it all out.

 Even before I leave Benny's drive, I'm surprised by the Enzo's delicate responses. The slightest touch on the left pedal and 15" carbon ceramic brakes threaten to hurl me through the windshield. The smallest input on the wheel and we're headed in a different direction. Clearly, thankfully, the days when driving a Ferrari meant wrestling with recalcitrant mechanicals in the world's fastest sauna ended with the passing of the Enzo's namesake. Ferrari's latest and greatest is a finely balanced precision instrument that doesn't make you pay [anything except money] for the privilege.

In fact, the Enzo proves itself as happy trundling around town as a big-engined Beemer. With 485 ft. lbs. of torque on tap, there's never any question of bunny hopping or hunting for the right gear. Parallel parking is a bitch, and luggage space is restricted to what you can put in your pockets, but the Enzo's user-friendly dynamics at sub-warp speeds make it a viable – if astounding – daily driver. When Benny points at the Hutchinson River Parkway onramp, the look on his face tells me ambling time is over…

 The moment I give the Enzo's go-pedal a shove, the 660hp two-seater surges ahead with all the genetic imperative of a race horse bolting from the starting gate. The thrust is so explosive I struggle to judge my exact role in the proceedings. Instinct tells me to tap her into third gear before the 48-valve engine blows up, and avoid solid objects. Five seconds later, I've managed to calm things down to a subjectively sedate 150mph.

As I get used to driving in hyperspace, the traffic ahead can't get out of my way fast enough – literally. By the time a driver clocks the Enzo's yellow prow in their rear view mirror, I'm already waiting for them to move over. As a result, I'm driving the Enzo in a series of full-bore sprints that bring new meaning to the words "in gear acceleration". While the engine note is nowhere near as loud as an F50's, neither is an F14's. Let's just say what the Enzo's soundtrack lacks in volume it makes up in drama. Perhaps you'd like to know how a Ferrari Enzo handles in the corners. So would I. When I ask Benny to direct me to an appropriately twisty road, he invites me for lunch. Oh well. Suffice it to say, nothing "the Hutch" could throw at the Enzo – off camber bends, broken pavement, lunatic SUV drivers – could disturb the car's sure-footed poise, at speeds that defy both law and logic. It feels light, tight and right.

As we head back to Villa Caiola, I try to make sense of what just happened. I'm elated to have scored major seat time in an Enzo. But more than that, I'm relieved that the supercar lived up to my every expectation. The Ferrari Enzo is both beauty and the beast.

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