Frst there was the â€˜Fâ€™, which was supposed to be the last road-going version of the Pagani Zonda. Then came the wild, track-only â€˜Râ€™, which was intended as the swansong for the companyâ€™s current supercar. But now, after months of arm-twisting by a persuasive dealer in Hong Kong, Pagani has announced it will build one more, final version of the Zonda.
Combining elements of the Râ€™s wild bodywork with the existing F chassis, the new model will be fully road-legal and is called the Zonda Cinque, in recognition of the fact that just five will be built (â€˜cinqueâ€™, pronounced cheen-kway, is Italian for â€˜fiveâ€™).
The biggest mechanical change over the F is a new automated manual six-speed gearbox, developed by Pagani in conjunction with Cima. The Cinque will be the first Pagani offered with a clutchless gearchange as standard, with shifts activated either by paddles behind the steering wheel or a sequential gearlever in the usual position.
Having passengered in the prototype Cinque, whatâ€™s fascinating about this new transmission is how it changes the character of the car so dramatically. The existing manual gearbox doesnâ€™t offer the quickest shifts in the world, so the ability to change gear in under 100 milliseconds at the flick of a paddle makes a big difference. The 0-62mph time drops by 0.2sec to 3.4sec for a start, while the 0-200kph (124mph) time is also down by the same margin, falling to 9.6sec. Interestingly, Pagani is also looking at the possibility of offering this new transmission to owners of existing Zondas.
Other changes over the Zonda F include a new type of carbonfibre for the bodywork that uses titanium in its make-up for extra strength. Thereâ€™s also a revised suspension set-up that uses magnesium and titanium components, while deeper spoilers both front and rear radically alter the carâ€™s appearance and help create over 750kg of downforce at 300kph (186mph). To complete the external makeover there are new air intakes for cooling the rear brakes and the engine, while a roof-mounted scoop grabs air from an opening just above the windscreen to feed the engine.
The interior has also been revised, with a new electronic display for the driver and redesigned, race-type seats â€“ all the better to cope with the potential 1.45g of cornering force the car is capable of generating.
The engine remains the same 7.3-litre AMG-built V12 as fitted in the Zonda F, but thanks to a new ECU and that air scoop it now produces 678bhp, up from 602. Torque remains the same at 575lb ft.
Each Cinque will cost around Â£1million, and all five cars are expected to be delivered by June 2009. Oh, and if youâ€™re thinking of buying one, youâ€™re too late â€“ all five have already been sold.