Sabtu, 07 Juni 2008



Fifth Gear - Ferrari Enzo vs McLaren F1

By Robert Farago

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.


By Sajeev Mehta

The days when Ferrari and Lamborghini were the sole, unquestionable, untouchable owners of the “supercar” moniker are gone. The Carrera GT’s clutch may have permanently besmirched Porsche’s “everyday supercar” rep, but the roadster's at least as dramatic as Maranello’s magic mounts. The SLR may be a dour machine driven by a brain-dead debutante, but the scissor-doored McMerc still has supercar written all over it. And those pesky Americans keep doing things to the Corvette that increase its credibility in the field of extreme machines. So is the “entry level” Ferrari F430 becoming a little, uh, pedestrian?

What are you nuts? One look at Ferrari F430 and it tattoos the word “supercar” on your retinas. While taller and hunkier than previous Dino-descended mid-engined mounts, the F430’s Pininfarina-penned lines possesses the kind of purity of line associated with High Renaissance art. Unlike its in-house stable mates and Bologna-born competition, the F430’s mid-engine proportions and curvilinear contours are quintessentially Italian, quintessentially super.

I didn’t need to tell you that. But the F430’s interior is something of a shock, a radical departure from Enzo’s philosophy of selling his customers an engine and throwing the car in for free. It's a sacred place, blessed with first-class materials arranged with minimalist purity. Credit is due to the optional “carbon fiber driving zone” and its F1-inspired tiller. Though silly at first, the little red hash at the twelve o’ clock position provides entirely useful Pavlovian conditioning (for a mere five grand).

Yes there are elegant details, but the stunning gauges are all, as befits a cockpit that places the pleasure of driving in the premier position. Taken as a whole, the F430’s sumptuous leather-wrapped interior feels like a stripped down racer. The engine-under-glass effect underlines the point. The branded induction system is the automotive equivalent of a brace of elephant guns gleaming in Hemingway’s weapons case: immaculately oiled, ready for action.

Firing-up the F430’s 4.3-liter V8 is like watching the opening scene of a James Bond movie: predictably ridiculous, yet giddy-making in its promise of extreme violence. Engage the F1-style gearbox and you’re away. A. Long. Way. Away. Calling the F430 fast is like calling Miss America determined. Zero to sixty is a sub-four second experience of mammoth, manic intensity; it’s like being shot of a cannon into a black hole. The dual-stage exhaust goes from a martini-soaked Frank Sinatra to a cocaine-crazed Richard Patrick in less time than it takes to crank a stereo knob.

The F360 Modena was a high-revving beast whose blood curdling howls were the mother of adrenal acceleration. The F430 is a different animal entirely, endowed with Corvette-worthy low-end grunt. Those eight little Italian cylinders stump-up 343 ft-lbs of truck-like torque, taking the sauce all the way to 483hp, at a [still] preposterous 8500 rpm. Trundle around town? Si, we do that too. Bend time? That too.

The Ferrari’s F1 transmission is proof that racing improves the breed. The original system was a herky jerky joke. By now, the paddle shift transmission is as good as if not better than VW’s DSG. The F430’s manumatic engages the clutch with balletic grace– or NHL savagery. The F430 gently whisked me from the daily grind and gawking SUV owners. If Jimi Hendrix was reincarnated as a gearbox, I’d be standing next to his Fire.

That’s because the F430 is a Little Wing on four massive 19” wheels. Thanks to an impeccably tuned suspension, meticulously selected ratios and Satan’s own powerband, the pace is fervid, the progress distraction-free. A little seat time quickly confirms Lamborghini’s German intervention was the wrong move. Without question.

The Italian F430 is opera to the Gallardo's heavy metal. The Gallardo is a weapon, but the F430 is the pinnacle of pistonhead performance pleasure. Even with rapid steering inputs, the G-forces build gently, effortlessly pushing you against its retro-Daytona seats. The steering feedback is so honest you’d think Simon Cowell is behind the headlights. This Detroit-fettled enthusiast will never forget that wonderful Saturday afternoon; the F430’s effortless rush makes exiting any bend a wake-up call for geographically biased automotive snobs.

Hell, even the Italian's electronic nannies have a unique, Ferrari themed persona. Never isolating and nebulous, the handling interferenza is as customer savvy as a concierge at the Waldorf-Astoria. That said, the F430's [optional] ceramic brakes' linear stopping and progressive punch leaves little need for computerized intervention.

I have never been so hardwired to a machine before; if Ferrari had an online dating service, would be screwed (so to speak). Yes, there are faster cars. Certainly, there are more luxurious cars. Reliable? Ha! But provided it’s not in the shop, the Ferrari F430 always delights, with its sublime handling, perfect mid-corner power and a roar that echoes in your mind for the rest of your years.