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2009-02-06 12:48
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Pagani
Model Zonda R
Engine 6l, V12
Power 551kW @ 7 500r/min
Torque 710Nm @ 5 700r/min
Transmission Six-speed sequencial
Zero To Hundred 2.7 sec
Top Speed 374km/h
Weight 1 070kg
Front Suspension Double wishbones, pull-rod helical springs
Rear Suspension Double wishbones, pull-rod helical springs
Italy’s underdog supercar, Pagani’s Zonda, is about to be gazetted into automotive history with 551kW amidships.

Since its introduction nearly a decade ago, Argentinean Horacio Pagani’s Zonda has captured the imagination of enthusiasts the world over. In many ways it was to the first decade of the 21st century what the Countach was to supercar identity in the 1980s.

Best for last

With its replacement due to be unveiled towards the end of the year, Pagani is set to wrap up Zonda production with the most performance focussed derivative yet, a track-day only R version, shows to the public in Vienna last night.

Though the R version may appear to be a stickered up hard-top Zonda rolling on golden-hue alloys, it’s actually a significantly altered car from anything that has gone before it.

A homage to Horacio Pagani’s expertise in composites, the R’s chassis and svelte bodywork is a blend of the most exotic materials available in automobile manufacturing – from carbon fibre and airframe grade aluminium, to titanium and magnesium.

Pagani claims the Zonda R is the first car in the world to use a woven blend of carbon fibre and titanium in its basic body structure. “The material is four times more expensive than regular carbon fibre,” explained Pagani, “and means we can shave 25kg from the weight of the ‘tub’.”

Although their silhouettes appear interchangeable, the R only shares 10% of its parts base with the Zonda F. Sporting a 50mm wider track and a 48mm longer wheelbase, the R is appreciably wider, lower and, almost unbelievably, 400mm longer than a standard F.

The watchmaker beautifully interior detailing remains – if any car’s interior deserves to be on display at the Guggenheim museum of modern art, it’s the Zonda. Externally though, the R’s surfacing majors on functionality.

AMG power onboard

Ornate rear-wings are usually a styling embellishment of little consequence other than adding image appeal and raising supercar prices even more. Zonda R’s massive rear wing, supported by a large rear diffuser and a front splitter combine to manage 2t of down-force at 300km/h.

Considering the drag such down-force creates, it’s hardly surprising to gauge the epic power figures the Zonda R’s 6l, narrow-angle V12 produces to offset the airflow management system. The AMG fettled engine (a development of the indifferent late 1990s CLK GTR racer) sends 551kW and 710Nm to the rear wheels only…

With its large swept capacity and decidedly over-square architecture, the AMG V12 provides linear power from low engine speeds right through the rev range until the 7 500r/min power peak. Owing to its track-day bias, the V12 is a fully stressed member of the chassis, doing without engine mountings, which bodes ill for vibration and harshness levels…

Chasing Veyrons?

You won’t have much time to focus your mind on the any vibration and harshness issues though. The Zonda R, at only 1 070kg, bests the Bugatti Veyron in power-to-weight comparisons, and runs a 2.8 sec 0-100km/h time on the way to 374km/h at the long end of the rev-range in sixth gear.

Driving the Zonda R out of corners is a six-speed sequential gearbox with paddle-shift mechanism behind the steering wheel. Able to execute gearshifts at 20 milliseconds, it’s sure to induce suspicion and ire from Ferrari’s drivetrain engineers.

Bosch provides 12-stage electronics to control the onboard ABS and traction control systems, which are critical in a car with such forbidding performance credentials.

Only 16 cars are set to be built, 15 will be for sale, with Horacio keeping the 16th one for himself. Build quality promises to be incomparable - each bolt and fastening, for instance, is made of airframe grade titanium.

A designer with boundless imagination and drive, Pagani had an idea for something similar to the R for years.

He needed buyers crazy enough to pay deposits for the $1.8 million car though, before development could be properly undertaken.
Fortunately the scale model Pagani took to last year’s Geneva auto show primed nine deposits from some extremely well heeled show goers, and so the Zonda R project was on track – no pun intended.

Though the Zonda range has been lionised with perhaps a touch too much hyperbole by certain section of the automotive media – particularly UK publications – it remains a landmark achievement for the sole remaining independent Italian supercar builder. The R is a most apt way of closing up production.



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