Pagani Huayra Roadster We climb aboard the first and only right-hand drive Pagani Huayra Roadster in the world to experience why it’s named after a South American wind god. Story by Chris Rees. Images by Pagani UK.
I well remember witnessing the debut of the very first Pagani – the Zonda C12 – at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. I’m ashamed to say I thought it would be one of those would-be hypercars that regularly flit into, and then rapidly out of, existence. How wrong I was. Pagani has pulled off the unthinkable: building a brand that slots in as the most prestigious in Italy, and quite possibly the world. That’s quite some feat, but perhaps not as big a surprise as one might imagine: after all, founder Horacio Pagani certainly knows his business, having worked with Lamborghini for many years, and being responsible for conceiving the 1987 Countach Anniversary.
The Zonda certainly caught the imagination of the hypercar-buying public. Its aerospace aesthetic, bewitchingly bespoke detailing and AMG V12 engine (offering between 600hp and 760hp) proved irresistible to 136 clients over its 18-year existence.
Today, Pagani is all about the Huayra. Named after a Quechua god of wind, the Huayra swept in back in 2012 in coupe form, with the godly wind-in-your-hair Roadster following in 2017. After a long build-up, now is the moment when I finally get a chance to experience it, because I have an appointment at Pagani UK, a London-based operation that sells, services and restores Paganis. Set up in 2014, it’s easily the biggest Pagani partner outside Italy, dealing with customers both in the UK and the Far East. There are an estimated 38 Paganis in residence in the UK today, and remarkably there are 10 cars on site at the time of our visit.
But there’s only one Huayra Roadster; indeed this is the first and only right-hand drive example anywhere in the world, and this is what I’m here to experience. Even before the Huayra turns a wheel, it makes a big impression. This example is painted in a striking satin ‘Benny Bianco’ white with half of its body remaining in exposed carbon.
Incidentally, no two Paganis are ever permitted to be alike – each one is bespoke to its customer. Just one example: one client asked for a special purple paint to match his partner’s favourite nail varnish.
The Roadster is very far from being a chop-top version of the coupe; it’s virtually a new car from the ground up. Other than the removable roof, you can spot a few of the details that make the Roadster distinct, including the rear engine cover, wheels and doors (which open conventionally instead of gullwing-style on the coupe). The overall impression is more aggressive and sportier than the fixed-head Huayra. The front and rear clamshells peel open to reveal stunningly crafted aluminium suspension, all cradled in exposed carbonfibre. But it’s the little details that really enchant you. For instance, every screw on the car is made of titanium and is etched with a miniature Pagani logo. My favourite bit of all, though, is the key: a mini replica of the car itself that slots into its own special nacelle in the centre console.
As this is a customer car, I can’t drive it. Instead I’m getting a ride in the passenger seat with Pagani’s sales chief, Francis Falconer, at the wheel. He presses the starter button and the twin-turbo Mercedes-AMG V12 instantly makes itself felt, with a very different sound to any supercar from Maranello or Sant’Agata: a basso profundo, accompanied by a raunchy bark from the signature quad exhausts.
Boasting 764hp, it’s instantly clear that it’s, er, quite lively. In one short, ferocious blast to merge on to the west London dual carriageway, I get some inkling of the car’s three-second 0-62mph time, but we don’t get anywhere near the 210mph this car is capable of. But I do get a good sense of the linear torque delivery – the monstrous peak of 1000Nm (738lb ft) is available from 2300rpm to 4300rpm – and the ease with which power is delivered, aided by a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and electric/mechanical differential.
Normally a floppy-top car is floppier – and heavier – than the coupe on which it’s based. Not so the Huayra Roadster: it’s both stiffer and 80kg lighter than the coupe. Thank new, unique-to-the-Roadster ‘Carbo-Triax’ carbonfibre for that. It feels very planted and Francis confirms that, on a track, it’s “balanced, neutral and manageable on the limit.”
Only on one occasion do I see the active aerodynamic flaps – there are two up front and two at the rear – in action. These increase brake force as well as balancing airflow left to right. This means massive downforce joins sensational cornering ability: a claimed 1.8g of lateral force, which might well be a record for a road car.
There are five driving modes to play with: Wet, Comfort, Sport, Race and ESC Off. We don’t get to use the Race mode on our west London drive, but Francis says it delivers extra slip angle for track use. As for turning the stability control off, no we don’t do that either…
You get the feeling that the Huayra would be a very usable long-distance companion. The ride is a great surprise: extremely compliant at low speeds and very capable of dealing with sleeping policemen.
So the Huayra Roadster is lighter, faster and stronger than the Coupe. It’s also comfortably more expensive than almost any other new car. How much? The base price is £2.5 million. Sadly you’re too late if you want one – all 100 examples due to be made are already spoken for. The Pagani factory is currently at full capacity, making around 40 cars per year. That’s the very definition of exclusive, but it merely confirms Pagani’s position right at the very top of the hypercar tree.
There’s a lot going on design-wise, but careful inspection reveals an attention to detail that’s unmatched in the car world.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS PAGANI HUAYRA ROADSTER
ENGINE: 5980cc V12 twin-turbo
BORE X STROKE: 82.6mm x 93mm
MAX POWER: 764hp at 5500rpm / DIN
MAX TORQUE: 1000Nm (738lb ft) at 2300rpm / DIN
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive
BRAKES: Ventilated 380mm carbon ceramic discs
SUSPENSION: Double wishbones, upper rocker arms with coil springs and adjustable dampers
TYRES: P Zero Corsa / Trofeo R
DIMENSIONS: 4605mm (L), 2036mm (W), 1169mm (H)
MAX SPEED: 210mph
PRICE: £2.5 million