Long term tests

Pagani Zonda C12 S

Henry has persuaded Harry Metcalfe that they should swap cars for the day...

The excess on the insurance for me to drive Harry’s Zonda is the same as the list price for my Caterham. Which is interesting.

‘Don’t touch the traction control,’ says Harry.

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‘What, this little button?’

‘Yes, that one. You know the bit at the end of an episode of The Apprentice? I don’t want to have to re-enact it. Oh, and the rear tyres are shot.’

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‘OK!’ I say with all the breeziness I can muster. And then he shuts the door and I’m alone in the Zonda, muttering, ‘Ya fired!’

Of all the supercars, this is the one I’ve wanted to drive most. I’ve been just slightly obsessed with it since I was at school. Now I’m finally about to drive one. I can’t believe Harry went for my ‘every garage should have a Caterham’ line, but there he is, fighting with the four-point harness…

We roll out of his driveway (so much torque you don’t really need the throttle) and through the narrow streets of his village. The antennae mirrors are purely decorative, so guessing how close the huge rear end is to clipping badly parked Toyotas and narrow Cotswold bridges is fun.The biggest early impression (and this is going to sound really geekily road tester-ish, but trust me) isn’t the sparklingly light steering or the wall of sound from the quad exhausts – it’s the ride. The way the Zonda glides across bumps and dips yet stays in touch with the road is just perfect.

Which in turn gives you the confidence to use all 600bhp. You have to accept that any attempt to do so will land you in an overcrowded prison if you’re caught, but it’s worth it. Wait for a clear piece of road, snap the throttle open in fourth gear at 5000rpm and the instant slam forward feels like you’ve been hit with one of God’s lightning bolts. Then you have to brake really quite hard to make sure your don’t run into the back of Alan Sugar in the Caterham in front.

Running Costs

Date acquiredMay 2006
Total mileage30,720
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month539
MPG this month18.9
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