The performance, the finish, the lightness, the overwhelming sense of occasion.
Single-clutch gearbox is extremely last-week. And the noise... it’s fascinating, but it’s no howling Zonda.
What is it?
An artillery division made of fireworks, aimed at your senses. The Pagani Huayra Roadster would still drop jaws and stop traffic if it had the engine from a VW Polo, but thanks to a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 from AMG serving up 753bhp (23bhp more than the standard Huayra Coupe, and a few more horses than even the extreme Huayra BC) it will liquefy your brain with mind-pulverising acceleration. Do not make the mistake of thinking this just an opulent Fabergé egg with the top missing. It’s a properly developed and terrifyingly capable hypercar. One of the fastest roofless cars on Earth.
The Huayra, to refresh your memory, is Pagani’s Difficult Second Album. It’s the successor to the iconic Zonda, and it’s all about ‘more’: more power, more torque, more opulence. And more money.
The engine is smaller and twin turbocharged, for greater torque. The gearbox tasked with coping is an auto this time – but an old-school automated manual, which prioritises lightness over shift speeds.
The tub is made of carbo-titanium, which splices carbon weave with strands of titanium for greater stiffness and strength with a negligible weight penalty. And there are four pop-up aero flaps on the bodywork which leap into the airstream as you brake and turn to help push the car’s all-carbon form into the road. F1 racing designers dream of gadgets like that.
You’d think the Huayra Roadster is simply 2012’s Huayra with the roof cut off, and the gullwing doors binned. But this being Pagani, there are way more detail changes afoot than simply taking a set of secateurs to the top bit.
For a kick-off, the engineers have reinvented their reinvented carbon fibre. The carbo-titanium weave is stronger now, so the tub is stiffer than the coupe’s and lighter. Normally a cabrio has to get heavier than the coupe, either due to extra strengthening beams, and any roof gubbins.
Because the Huayra’s titanium-infused tub is stronger than the material Pagani’s employed previously, and because the roof is a manually extractable slither of carbon and glass, the Huayra Roadster weighs just 1,280kg dry. Compared to the claimed dry weight of the hard-top Huayra – 1,350kg – that’s a massive saving of 70kg. Gullwing doors are notoriously heavy…
Because it’s lighter, the inboard, racecar-like suspension has been retuned. The rear bodywork is all new, and more curvaceous now. More outrageously art-deco. The front bumper looks angrier. There are new, lightweight forged wheels. It’s a proper reworking this, as you’d hope. It is (gulp) a £2.3million piece of kit, after all.
Photography: Philipp Rupprecht
What's the verdict?
Why wouldn’t you have the Roadster? Unless you’re a gullwing door fetishist, the topless Roadster loses nothing in pace or performance – in fact, it’s faster still – and exposes you to more of that manic engine’s hissing, seething demeanour. It’s always an event to drive the Huayra – just to sit in it, even – but it’s not as intimidating nor as unforgiving as a Zonda when you lean on it.
The Huayra is entering the twilight of its life, but despite its objective flaws it remains true hypercar royalty, and a glinting example of what can be done with an absolutely zero-compromise attitude.