The Adorable Little Engine In The Pagani Zonda R


Growing up, there was always that one kid who couldn’t fit in, no matter what. Oh, he tried, but his various and vigorous campaigns into the realms of acceptability were uniformly unsuccessful. It wasn’t that there was anything inherently wrong with him, he was just a square peg in a round hole. He might have tried to wear the coolest clothes, use the hippest slang, or even dye his hair; but he wasn’t fooling anyone. He was, at his very core, an outsider. And not the Malcolm Gladwell kind.

That may seem like a mean-hearted description, but it isn’t nearly as unkind when we use it to describe Horatio Pagani’s fiercest product to date, because that’s a bit how the Zonda R is – an outcast. It doesn’t have turn signals, so you can’t use it on the road, and it’s so loud that you will be hard-pressed to find a race track with neighbours willing to let you use it, so it can’t really be used at all. It would seem unlikely that two cars bearing the same Zonda badge would be so diametrically opposed, but it’s the case nevertheless. The comparatively left-brained Zonda, on which the R is loosely based, is a down pillow to the the R’s spasming effervescence. The R, then, is mad as a bag of ferrets.

At the heart of this madness is an adorable little heart. Gone is the lumbering and ponderous 7.3L AMG V12, replaced with a barely-there 6.0L AMG (M120) racing unit. Can you even spot it in the picture above? Didn’t think so. It’s that small. This most petite of powerplants is the very same one that invigorated the race version of the Mercedes CLK-GTR to 17 wins in 22 races during the 1997 FIA Championship, besting the venerable McLaren F1-GTR several times along the way.

In Zonda R spec, the 60˚ V12 is responsible for 750 hp at 8000 rpm and 523 ft-lbs of torque at something-presumably-less-than-8000-rpm. The diminutive stroke is 80.2 mm; the elfin bore a mere 89.0 mm. Yet the beauty of the mill lies in its firing order: 1-12-5-8-3-10-6-7-2-11-4-9. Clearly, there’s much more mathematical comeliness to this order than, say, Lamborghini’s odious V12: 1-7-4-10-2-8-6-12-3-9-5-11 (at least until the new L539 brings its mellifluous 1–12–4–9–2–11-6–7–3–10–5–8 to the table).

Even the foundation of the Zonda R is scarcely related to its proletariat forebear. The R’s wheelbase has grown 47mm and the track by 50mm. This, and much more, contributes to a top speed of 370 kph and a ‘Ring time that crushes the similarly-priced Ferrari 599XX by a full 11.16 seconds. Simply adorable.

Now I’ll hand the narrative over to Jeremy Clarkson because, well, that’s what he does best.

Pagani Zonda R

[Photo credits: ColdTrackDays]

[Video credits: Vimeo]