220mph in the Pagani Huayra prototype
It’s never done a high-speed test run, but it’s about to take its first shot at hyperspeed…
Posted: 08 Jun 2012
330kph. Two hundred and something. Can't do the maths. Testi flicks an upshift through the paddleshift sequential gearbox. No dual-clutch jobbie here: that would've added around 100kg to the weight. The Huayra gives a throaty huff. From inside, the engine sounds broad and breathy; from outside, as I discovered earlier, it sounds like nothing else on earth. None of the high-pitched, hard-edged shriek of a
Ferrari V12 here: the Huayra's soundtrack is a broad, bassy series of sonic booms, a low-frequency salvo that batters you in the chest and leaves a dull ache in your lungs.
340kph. We're north of 210mph. I glance at the Huayra's wing mirror. The speed
at which the world is spewing out behind us seems even more absurd than the track being devoured in front. An engineer told me earlier that Mr Pagani insisted that the mirrors must look like the eyes of a beautiful woman. They came back with a dozen designs, each subtly different. Mr Pagani chose, in the engineer's words, "the correct one". And, yes, they do actually look like a woman's eyes. I find this a bit disturbing.
345kph. The increments are getting tougher to come by now. That's 214mph
and the noise from outside is deafening now as millions of cubic metres of air batter the front of the Huayra. A sparrow scuds over the windscreen like a cruise missile. Scientists say air assumes the relative density of cold treacle as a car accelerates beyond 200mph, but the Huayra seems to be bending physics, gliding on imperiously. I think how tremendously sad it would be if a tyre went bang now. Not only because the number of ministers capable of pronouncing ‘Huayra' at a funeral must be limited, but because, even in unpainted, gaffer-taped prototype form - hell, especially in unpainted, gaffer-taped prototype form - this is a gorgeous car, taking the Zonda's design cues but launching them into the 21st century. The sleek rear deck moulded over the quad exhausts, the perfectly aligned weave of carbotanium (there is a lot of carbotanium), the jewellish dials: this is a warp-speed masterpiece.