Pagani Huayra

Like a missile on a mission

"That honking great Mercedes V12 punches the Huayra forward like a missile on a mission"

"Fifty laps on the Huayra is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said David

"Every Huayra requires some 80,000 euros worth of titanium bolts to assemble, every single one of them with Mr. Pagani's signature etched on them"

It's hard to know where to begin. Do I start with some pithy comment detailing Horacio Pagani's melding of art and aerospace technology, the Argentine-born Italian's blend of the visual and the mechanical automobile Dom's most magical? Do I run with the hyperbole of a giant 6.0 liter Mercedes V12, twice turbocharged to 730 horsepower, the resulting acceleration more than a match for the hyper-hybrids - Porsche's 918, McLarens P1, etc. - that are all the rage these days? Or, given that every Huayra requires some 80,000 euros worth of titanium bolts to assemble, every single one of them with Mr. Pagani's signature etched on them, there's little wonder his eponymous creations cost US$1.4 million? 

Driving Impressions
A day after flogging the mondo-horsepower beast around the Autodromo Modena, I still don't know if it's jangled nerves - 50 laps of high speed supercar-ing will do that to you - that is the takeaway from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Or is it admiration for a passion so consuming that it propelled an impoverished engineer (Mr. Pagani and wife arrived in Italy some three decades ago with nothing more than two bicycles and a broken promise of a job at Lamborghini) to create what are possibly the most phantasmagorical supercars on the planet? This much I do know: I am in awe of both man and machine. 

Consider this: In a building not much larger than some auto restoration shops, Mr. Pagani has developed a material he calls "carbotanium," essentially the melding of lightweight titanium with, well, even lighter-weight carbon fiber. Or this: One of the reasons Mercedes doesn't build a supercar is that, a) it powers the Pagani with its M158 6.0L twin-turbo V12, and b) the German giant is not completely convinced it could build a significantly better supercar. 

OK, so you don't care about technology. You're a nouveau riche dilettante and your primary reason for owning an extra-super-duper supercar is to lord your wanton riches over the undeserving masses. Well, there's no car better in the world than a Pagani. The interior of a Pagani is - there is simply no other word for it - art. I'm not talking automobile art, as in for a car this thing is beautiful and, holding our noses, we'll deign to put in the Guggenheim. No, the inside of a Huayra is art by any standard, the center console worthy of any museum in the world and the transmission selector not out of place in a luxury yacht. 

OK, so you're not some attention-seeking dilettante or anorak-wearing technocrat. Exclusivity and style are all well and good - you're not above a little adoration, per se - but it's all wasted if it's not backed up with some serious supercar bona fides. 

Well, again, consider this: I flung the big supercar around a track more suited to lithe 600-cc superbikes - six diabolical decreasing-radius hairpins in less than two kilometers - as though it was a 250cc two-stroke go-kart. Supercars - especially ones with hulking Mercedes V12s amidships - are not supposed to be able to trail-brake into 180 degree arcs with the ease of lithe little Lotus. But the Pagani did exactly that, lap after lap, never once threatening to understeer its Pirelli PZero radials. 

And that honking great Mercedes V12 punches the Huayra forward like a missile on a mission. From the cabin, the Huayra's turn of speed can be a little deceiving. Seven hundred and thirty horsepower or not, the twin-turbo V12 redlines at 6,000 rpm, so there's none of the frenetic blare, like a high-revving Ferrari, to alert you that you're making like a rocket booster. 

Then, you arrive at the end of the Autodromo's long back straight and you suddenly realize that, OMG-carbon-ceramic-brakes-don't-fail-me-now, the Pagani is molto rapida indeed, even by supercar status. You slam on the binders and then those flaps built into the front hood you were wondering about flip up and, before you can utter a quick "Cool, high-speed air brakes," you're going so slow that you have to reinvigorate the throttle. 

The Pagani is not without fault. Those ceramic brakes can be a little wooden and there is but a single clutch to the Huayra's Xtrac paddle-shift manumatic. That means low-speed comportment - I'm talking below 20 km/h- can be more than a little herky-jerky. 

Verdict
Of course, one doesn't buy US $1.4-million supercars to poodle around town like a prat. You do so because you want a car that combines the passion of Enzo Ferrari, the technical innovation of Ferdinand Porsche and the imagination of Picasso. Only one car can do all three simultaneously and it's built in a small suburban industrial complex just outside of Modena. 

Pros: Incredible build quality, an interior worthy of the Guggenheim, 730 horsepower
Cons: US$1.4 million!, minimalist dealer network, wonky transmission at low speeds
Rivals: Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918
Engine: 6.0 twin turbocharged, V12, 730 horsepower
Transmission: 7-speed single clutch manumatic
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 3.3 sec, 15 L /100 km Top speed: 370 km/h
Chassis: 1,350 kg

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