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There's no such thing as global warming. The ice caps are melting because of the obscene heat emitted by the Enzo engine inside the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano HGTE. We kid you not. Two days into our test period with the car, the ludicrous heat radiating from this bonkers V12 engine caused the licence plate to melt off. Seriously.
That extreme heat is a consequence of extreme power. The engine, named after the company's founder, produces a mammoth 620bhp. This helps the 599 accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, and rampage all the way up to a maximum speed of 205mph. Numbers don't do it justice -- the car is so fast that we got the feeling it could speed around the circumference of the planet and crash into the back of itself.
It's not all brute force though. The 599 also utilises some technological wizardry that, on the surface, sounds like something out of a science-fiction novel. Its suspension system isn't made of springs, for a start. It's constructed of magnetorheological fluid -- a liquid that becomes a solid when subjected to a magnetic field.
That allows the 599's suspension characteristics to change in real-time. Drive Miss Daisy along a bumpy road and the suspension material maintains a liquid-like viscosity, softening the ride. Throw the car into a fast corner and an electric current is applied to the fluid. This solidifies the material in an instant, firming up the suspension so the 599 corners with increased stability. It works rather like the liquid-metal T-1000 Terminator, except it
can't won't is less likely to kill you.
Despite its fabulous straight-line speed, the 599's forte is its ability to navigate twisty roads, particularly if it has the HGTE (Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione) upgrade. This package, which can be specified with a new 599 or retrofitted to older models, costs an extra £13,960. It lowers the car by 10mm, stiffens its springs by 17 per cent at the front and 15 per cent at the rear, reduces the time it takes to change gear from 100ms to 85ms, and remaps the magnetorheological damping system to more aggressively reduce roll. It makes the engine note more aggressive, too. It's no exaggeration to say the exhaust note is filthier than a box of smashed kittens. Actually, that is an exaggeration, but it really does sound murderously good.
Nearly £14,000 for zero extra power and a few, apparently minor, tweaks smacks of greed on Ferrari's part, but believe us when we say it's worth every penny. Sure, you could use that money to buy, say, an entire Ford Fiesta, but you'd be missing out on the fun. The HGTE-equipped package makes the car feel so planted to the ground that you'd really have to be a rubbish driver or Cristiano Ronaldo to wreck it.
The 599 is a big, heavy car, but it doesn't act like one because there's not a jot of understeer -- point it at a corner and it'll find its way to the exit like a heat-seeking missile finds a fat man jogging in leather. Anyone who wants to experiment with Top Gear-style power sliding is catered for, too. The steering wheel contains a manettino ('little lever' in Italian) which allows the driver to gradually reduce the level of traction control.