Sep. 24th, 2008

Review: Pagani Zonda F Clubsport

Luxury Cars: The Pagani brand first burst onto the supercar scene during the late '90s and immediately tore apart the establishment with its wild-looking creations capable of out-handling the best from cross-town rivals Ferrari and Lamborghini. In fact, the only thing raising more eyebrows than the Pagani cars themselves was the manner in which they were built - at a tiny Italian factory, barely the size of a few houses, whose owner speaks not a word of English but can tell you about a love for cars in a way no one else can.

Pagani was founded by Argentinean-born Italian Horacio Pagani and his first creation under his self-titled brand was the Zonda supercar. The stunning original was considered near perfect by most until Pagani released an updated Zonda "F" with more even power and grip levels. Surely the Zonda F was the most that could be squeezed out of the platform? But Horacio Pagani didn't exactly see things that way and the Zonda F 'Clubsport' was born, an even higher performance version of the already extreme Zonda F and one of the fastest production cars ever created.

The Zonda F Clubsport represents the last hurrah for the Zonda line-up as Pagani is set to replace the model with a new supercar dubbed the 'C9' coming next year. As the final iteration of the first Pagani model, the Clubsport holds a special place in automotive history and was intended to be something special, something that would cement the Zonda name forever in the history books.

Seeing a Zonda F Clubsport in the flesh is a strange experience. The cabin sits so far forward that it looks more like a jet-fighter than a car, and its low-slung stature and wide stance combine to give it a very aggressive appearance and great presence.

The attention to detail in all Paganis is first-rate and as expected is a constant theme throughout the Zonda F Clubsport. The sophistication of the red-leather interior and the imposing lines of the exterior leave onlookers stunned as you drive past. Despite this, the new model is almost indistinguishable from the lesser Zonda F bar a tiny 'Clubsport' badge at the rear.

Stepping inside, you're immediately faced with the sheer opulence and richness of materials that only an Italian thoroughbred can provide. After years of boring executive-style interiors from many rival supercar brands, it's good to see Pagani put the 'x' back into exotic. Every panel, instrument, dial and stitch is perfectly matched and of incredible quality. The red-leather looks like a throwback to the roadsters of the 1930s and everything about the interior projects a hand-wrought, bespoke quality.

The driving position is near-perfect and the interior cosseting, making the car feel smaller than it actually is. Visibility is much better than expected, although driving through traffic can still be a little unnerving. Starting the engine is just as theatrical as the appearance of the exterior. Simply press a button at the top of the gearstick and a roar that seems loud enough to wake the entire town fills the air.

The Pagani Zonda F Clubsport, despite its 650hp, its 780Nm of torque, its acceleration from 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds and its maximum speed of over 215mph, is far from being a punishing race car. The clutch feel is progressive and isn't the violent action as you flip up and down its six cogs that you would find in many other performance cars of this caliber.

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