There seem to be two distinct camps of opinion when you mention the Pagani Huayra: those who adore and revel in its capability, design and commitment and those who accuse it of jewel-encrusted excess, a flag to wave for all that’s wrong about hypercars. Strangely I’ve genuinely found very little common ground, when you’ve established that people actually know which car you’re talking about that is, but I’m going to confidently say that the latter group are very simply people who haven’t spent any time with a Huayra. I should know, because I was one of them.
Okay, so that’s a case of journalistic exaggeration. It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of the Pagani per se, it’s that I wasn’t a fan. Make sense? I’d say that I was simply aware of it and knew a few figures; oh and that it had a funky gearshift. Plus a lot of respected people seemed to have fallen in love with it…
So this story is as much about the Huayra as it is about my discovery of it and the subsequent reactions I felt, the shifts, changes and revelations. Because as hard as it might seem, I learnt a long time ago that you really have to come at a creation like the Huayra with a clean head, forget your preconceptions and notions and just observe the information.
Okay so it has to stir your soul and entice you in. I accept that it’s not all about hard and fast facts because let’s not forget the price tag: 1.3 million Euros is a lot of money. That’s the kind of money very few of us will ever get to play with. Or at the very least allocate to a purchase that doesn’t involve bathrooms, or bricks. So the Huayra has to be good, very good. It’s hard to forgive something any little foibles at this level; the kind of doubts you’d have viewing a secondhand grocery-getter don’t come into play here.
Pagani know that too. They haven’t got multiple decades of history to rely on, so from the get-go the experience is special. The surroundings I find myself in are slightly surreal too: we’ve spent the morning at the Autodromo Di Modena with this Huarya, so just an hour or so ago it was all fire and violence, snorting and tearing at tarmac whilst factory test driver Davide did this. It proved itself to be incredibly capable, as expected.
Now parked in front of the impressive Byblos Art Hotel, just outside the historic city of Verona, I get to take some time and absorb details. The serene surroundings seem to marry perfectly with the Huayra’s exquisite looks, but hang on, an hour ago my internal organs were being rearranged by the same vehicle? That’s the first lesson right there, and one we’ll expand on later. The Huayra fits. The simple act of opening a gullwing door adds instant drama, heightened by the proximity of carbon fibre to your face (Pagani famously developing their own particular brand using titanium strands in the body tub for added strength).
It’s worth taking a moment to consider the materials used here: in this one picture I can see carbon, alloy, leather and probably others that I can’t pin right now. Like the Zonda before it, the interior has been a sticking point for a lot of people, but what you’re looking at here is a very clever celebration of the ability to identify and marry materials in such a way that they complement each other perfectly.
This is meant to be an experience like no other, so forget an ignition key raided from the parts bin (although at Pagani the parts bin is admittedly pretty cool). What you get here is a miniature Huayra that separates like a USB stick would – think that’s a cheap trick? Maybe you’re approaching it with the eyes of an adult, reserved and slightly embittered by years of being told ‘that’s not really possible’. Forget putting this down on a bar somewhere like a key shaped trophy, declaring you’ve arrived in something special, we’re way past such vulgar acts. This is exactly what you’d give the younger you if you’d just bought a Huayra as an adult. You’d then stand back as the child pushed the model around a kitchen table, innocent to money and other such hindrances to your imagination. This is special, this is playtime. This is also very real.
Here you can see the key inserted in the lower dash, with the rear end of the shell neatly placed in a slot moulded in carbon. Just like the key, the gear shift is a flight of fancy: part steam punk, part delicate, part race car. How easy would it have been to shroud this in carbon or leather? But then you wouldn’t see the mechanism! Just imagine how much time went into this one aspect of the interior and how easily that could have been avoided.
But the Huayra is a bit like the internet itself: if you didn’t know it existed, you wouldn’t realise you need it. But you do, don’t you?
We decided to try something different with this shoot – we’ll be returning to the hotel later but we wanted to see what the public reaction to the Pagani was like. Would it be liked? Loathed?
Verona, we’re coming for you.Taking it to the streets…
For the third time in almost as many hours I get to see the Huayra in a different environment, which is ironically the one it will probably be seen in most, yet will be the most alien for it. Is the city somewhere you should take a hypercar? Surely it’s just plain and simple showing off? But then again this is Italy, a wonderfully stylish country that embraces all that is chic.
As we get closer into the city centre, I begin to notice just how much attention the Pagani gets. Maybe it’s because we’ve been somewhere fairly exclusive all day, but now in such a public place I realise just what a stand out car it is. Does that sound naïve? Like I momentarily forgot what we’ve been taking pictures of all day? Well yes, I think I have. I’ve become comfortable with its form and persona. Which is good.
Within minutes of us stopping, the crowds have swollen and snapped me back to hypercar reality. It’s amusing listening to comments – even with the windscreen banner this car wears, I still hear people saying the words Ferrari and Lamborghini. Such is the exclusive scale that Pagani operates on, their global impact is still rippling out. What I find interesting about this particular image are the two ladies taking pictures of the interior. The younger men you’d expect, but the diversity of people who just had to know more really blew me away. An everyman hypercar? Yes, it is.
Pretty soon it became apparent we should move. It’s great watching people enjoying something that they might not get a chance to interact with normally, but as the crowds grew I became more and more worried about those exquisite rear view mirrors. As the Pagani rolled slowly away, it gave me a chance to observe from afar .
At first I wasn’t convinced by them as a feature, but again, the more I get to know the Huayra, the more I understand it. Remember what I said about every element being designed and considered?
Take a look at other hypercar treatments of the same issue and you’ll find them mundane in comparison. They work too: Luca Venturi who took care of driving duties for us needed them on a minute-by-minute basis…
… because Luca knows Verona well, so as he descended into sparsely populated back streets, my urge to breathe in grew stronger and stronger. Oh and I’m following in a mid-sized hire car. Nothing in comparison to the Huayra, which one minute can appear wide and squat, and the next svelte and lithe.
It really seems to have the perception-shifting skills of a chameleon. The sound for example has been criticised by some as being too loud, brutish and gregarious, but what most people don’t give thought to is that each Huayra is built to a very long list of personal specifications based on consultations with Mr Pagani himself. So you can tune the car to sound as you like, and as this is the demo car, it’s been made to be loud and show the very best of every aspect.
That said, here on the city streets at low speeds and revs, the noise is discreet and you could imagine discreetly rumbling out of the finer parts of the city in the early morning and going hunting for an open piece of road. Here you can also see those elegant flowing lines; as automotive design becomes more and more aggressive with roof lines lowering and windows being tinted so dark they resemble solid panels, it’s part of the Huayra’s appeal that it is curved and sensual; Inviting even. It strikes me that when he designed it, maybe Mr Pagani considered the people who can’t afford it, as much as those who can; Making the world a more beautiful place, one hypercar at a time.
There’s so much more to see though: the engine resembles a two lunged animal with its chest swollen and ready to exhale with force. It’s a dream list on its own, 5980cc so nearly six litres in capacity and a V12 too, so a proper hypercar engine configuration. Add in that the engine comes from Mercedes-AMG and has two turbos. It’s exactly the sort of thing you would want to see nestled under the rear cover. Again, highlighted and accented as only Pagani could…One last, longing look
Using only a small part of the potential 730bhp, we head back to the calm surroundings of the hotel courtyard and I get to sum up a magnificent day. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive – maybe that’s because we’re in Italy but again I think this is all part of my shifting attitude to the Huayra. If you’d have asked me 24 hours ago how I would specify one, it would have been black anodised everything, black interior, the lot. But that’s akin to putting a tint over all these wonderful details.
The steering column and gauges seem to emerge like a robot; you can imagine them spinning out of a solid tube and clicking in to place as you turn the key. The whole car has that organic feel to its wonderfully emotive technical side.
How cool do they look? They’re not even moving and there’s a sense of drama, of high art to it all. It’s interesting to note that just out of shot is the odometer reading showing this Huayra has covered over 89k kilometres. High days and holidays? It goes to show just how well put together it is.
Because it is isn’t it? I put this down to the material choice, which is in turn a reflection of Mr Pagani’s wide range of interests and inspiration.
As a complete package I’m struggling to think of a more well-rounded car; everywhere you look there are lines which flow into lines elsewhere.
Curves and glimpses that tease and tantalise you. It seriously fries my brain to think of how many times subtle changes must have been made that directly affected another area. See that simple semi-elliptical shape? The recess too?
Glance up at the overhead console and there it is again.
It’s been said before but the details are crucial and I can’t fault them anywhere. The staggered fitment 19in front and 20in rear wheels are forged and feature this beautiful piece of script. There is no spare wheel, because you’d have to carry two and I really don’t know where you’d slot a 255/35×19 and even bigger 335/30x20in pair of tyres. Maybe if you get a flat in a Huarya you just buy wherever it comes to rest and set up camp until a replacement can be found? It might sound strange, but I love the fact this car has no spare. Sure you can get a can of squirt to perform a temporary repair, but it’s like being so important you don’t need a mobile phone… Think about it.
That’s not to say there aren’t some incredibly clever packaging solutions. You know I got all excited about the gullwing doors? Well along with tailored luggage you also get this umbrella, which you can raise whilst stood under that protective carbon fibre door.
It is time to end our day though; the sun is leaving the sky behind and as I take one last walk around this incredible machine, I realise I haven’t even really paid attention to the mechanical parts. I’m still being caught by the rear mesh matching the mesh in the rear lights. Good thing that Dino paid more attention when we toured the factory!
So that’s it – one more time I lower my eye to look through the 400mm lens at a shape that I have genuinely fallen for. This isn’t a case of man meets hypercar and becomes blinded by lust. I’ve been around long enough to know how that feels. No, this is genuine admiration for the way the Huarya has been put together.
I say it boils down to this for me: most hypercars appear to be restrained in some areas. As though their designers reigned in the inner kid and said no to the flashing lights and extra colours. A blanket of black alcantara was used because you don’t want to appear too ostentatious, now do you? Well you know what, you’re driving around in a 1.3 million Euro hypercar and its designer wants you to know that every single component has been considered and more importantly, identified as being important. Then each one has been linked together with that attention to detail, the scales of attraction balanced perfectly between each facet. The leather buckles and carbon-titanium tub, the lot.
The DNA of the Huayra is that of Horacio Pagani, a man who has created something magnificent from nothing in a relatively short time. For me this means that the world needs to look through Mr Pagani’s eyes more often – it could learn a lot from the way Pagani do things.