You are here

First drive: our debut in the Pagani Huayra

  1. Horacio
    Pagani is pirouetting around his office pretending to be a ballerina. Which wasn’t
    what I was expecting to find when I woke up this morning. But there’s sense to
    the oddness – he’s explaining his theories on centralisation of polar moments
    of inertia with reference to mid-engined supercars. Which, weirdly, I was expecting to find when I woke up
    this morning, except possibly in a slightly more practical fashion, because I’m
    here to drive the new Pagani Huayra, the £800k, 730bhp twin-turbo V12 that’s
    had me in fits ever since I first saw it some 18 months ago.

    do a lot of chatting. About Veyrons, and Carrera GTs and supercars in general.
    It’s hard to concentrate, simply because there’s a little voice in the back of
    my head chanting “I want to drive the car now”. There’s a Huayra downstairs. I
    really do want to drive the car. Now. But Horacio loves cars. And engineering.
    And talking about them. So I smile and become engrossed, and the little voice
    gets subsumed by a torrent of car-stuff that pours through HP’s office in an
    invisible but slightly petrol-scented fog. 

    talk about the future, and the past. But the one thing that constantly comes
    through in glorious high-def is that Horacio Pagani, with his black jeans and
    Pagani-branded white linen shirt, sweep of steel grey hair and wire-framed
    glasses, is really, really into this stuff. He’s obsessive. He’s also a bit
    mad. He’s brilliant

    last thing he does before we go and see the car, is sit there and tap his
    temples with both hands, clutch his right fist over his heart and then make a
    kind of Tommy Cooper gesture with both hands extended, palms down. It
    translates – broadly – that to make a decent supercar, you need to combine
    intellect (the head), soul (the fist to the chest) and physical craft (the

    When you see the Huayra, you’ll understand… 

    Words: Tom Ford

    Pics: Jamie Lipman

    For the full pictures and story, you
    need the next issue of Top Gear magazine – out 20 June 2012 

  2. Let’s
    just get this straight from the off: the Huayra is a proper exotic, a stop and
    stare supercar. The interior is a baroque mix of hyper-modern and traditional,
    blended with a bit of weird, and garnished with leather. The finish is
    millimetric, the quality unbelievable. The tub itself is carbotanium
    (carbonfibre with titanium threads woven through the structure), with
    molybdenum front and rear suspension subframes hung from either end. The roof
    section is only structural in that it’s somewhere to hang the gullwing doors
    (the tub itself is strong enough without), and every titanium nut, bolt and
    length of Aeroquip hose is bang on and Pagani branded. It’s like a giant
    jeweller’s workshop.  

    not, to my eyes, a pretty car, though the adaptive aero package (two pairs of
    flaps at either end) adds some technical vibe that’ll surprise you when you
    really get going. And it’s definitely cleaner and leaner than pretty much any
    other supercar out there, forgoing the bulky physical weaponry of the Aventador
    or Veyron. 

    For the full pictures and story, you
    need the next issue of Top Gear magazine – out 20 June 2012 

  3. But
    we knew all that. I’m here to drive it. It starts gruff and throbby, but not exactly
    spine-tingling. Turbos rob sound, and even though this is an AMG-tuned
    6.0-litre V12, it sounds muted in comparison to the twelve-cylinder hoof of the
    Zonda. Click first from the exposed sequential gearlever (it has paddles – I
    totally forgot to use them, such is the beauty of this one element alone), and
    pull away.

    find that the single-clutch seven speed ‘box is a bit jerky. Whoops. It’s not
    good at pottering, bluntly. The engine is hugely torquey and it doesn’t suit
    the single-clutch trying to be smooth. There are reasons: Pagani cites weight,
    a 100kg saving over a DSG ‘box rated to cope with the Huayra’s 700+lb ft of
    torque, and also positioning. The gearbox of the Huayra is tucked up behind the
    engine in a very odd place. Instead of lying lengthways and hanging out behind
    the rear axle (you’ll often see the casing of a gearbox between the rear wheels
    of a mid-engined car), it lies transversely across the beam, making a ‘T’-shape
    with the back of the engine. Now while this might sound like a small thing, it
    brings the Huayra’s centre of mass nearer the physical centre of the car,
    making it inherently easier to control. Technically, it centralises the
    Huayra’s moment of polar inertia, the place around which the car will rotate
    when enthusiasm gets the better of talent. Which is where we came in. 

    For the full pictures and story, you
    need the next issue of Top Gear magazine – out 20 June 2012 

  4. Ok,
    so it’s good for dynamics, but rubbish at slow-speed stuff. Which does raise a
    few eyebrows at first. Happily, the dynamics are impressive, which helps. You
    can see out of the car, it feels relatively small, rides brilliantly and has
    excellent steering feel. It also manages to absorb bumps with a liquid softness
    that inspires confidence and manages a lack of roll without a spine-cracking
    ride. Which is nice. It also refuses to try and bite your arm off, even with
    the ESP switched off, though this is still a 730bhp car that weighs 1350kg. Be
    warned people, third gear wheelspin is eminently possible.

    But that’s all a bit by-the-by as soon as you hit the throttle. Because the
    engine is absolutely, one-hundred percent mental. Boost is hard and insistent,
    and the car sounds like a literal explosion. It’s not pretty, or operatic, but
    it is something you can’t help wanting to experience again and again. And
    again. Dumpvalves choosh, exhausts hum, things whine. It’s like an exploding
    jet engine. With a gearbox.

    also fast enough to make you squeak, though it does get a little light at silly
    speeds, and when it decides to oversteer – which it does eventually – the boost
    makes it much harder to guage accurately than the Zonda. Not that I ever
    managed to guage that very accurately either, it has to be said. The flaps
    operate above 50mph, and act as airbrakes and stabilisers, though on the roads
    I was on it was hard to figure out if they were doing anything too specific.
    Later on the motorway, I’m sure they helped stability in hard braking from high
    speed, but I’d need to hit a track to figure out the finer points – the Huayra
    is too fast for extended full-bore runs on a public road. Anyone who tells you
    different should think about the size of the accident you’d likely have, and
    how much of Italy you’d scrape off the map. 

    For the full pictures and story, you
    need the next issue of Top Gear magazine – out 20 June 2012 

  5. So.
    I don’t think it’s as fast as the Veyron. But I sincerely don’t care. This is
    the kind of car that I thought cars like this would be like when I was a kid,
    if that makes any sense at all. Flawed, a bit weird, exciting, surprising, a
    massive handful and absolutely, stupidly brilliant.  It makes a Veyron
    look like a washing machine.
    It makes everything else look grey and dull, and a bit soulless. And that’s
    because it’s not perfect, rather than
    because it is. It’s the vision of one man and a close-knit team of engineers,
    rather than teams of scientific committees working under the auspices of a megacorp.

    the physical manifestation of Horacio Pagani’s mind. And that’s why we love it. 

    Price: £800,000 (approx)

    The Numbers: 5980cc V12 AMG biturbo,
    730bhp @ 5000rpm, 728lb ft @ 3500rpm, 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, 235+mph top
    speed, weight: 1350kg

    For the full pictures and story, you
    need the next issue of Top Gear magazine – out 20 June 2012. 
    For now, click on for more pictures of our first drive… 

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content