by Adam Lynton
Car culture seems obsessed with the Pagani Zonda – the car that’s had more encores than Michael Jackson did in his career. But the successor exists, it has done so since 2012, and it’s the million dollar supercar with more exclusivity than owning a Bugatti and finer attention to detail than even the most bespoke Rolls Royce can offer. While anybody can buy a Ferrari, it takes a special sort of connoisseur to invest in a Huayra. Named after the Quechua wind god, it’s only fitting that at its heart there’s an AMG V12 – painstakingly hand crafted like the rest of the Huayra.
Few supercars boast the claim of being art as well as the Huayra does – the interior even more so than the exterior. Hand crafted instrumentation is polished to a high gloss, white carbon fiber inlays hide behind organ-stop toggles, and the mechanically naked gear shifter shines to a technophile like a gold coin to a raven. The Huayra’s details are magical in isolation, but carefully pieced together as they are, they give the effect of being trapped in the midst of a celestial body – the constellation of Huayra, Horacio Pagani’s finest creation.
The sculpted seats are exceptional support, and with their soft-hewn leather and contrast stitching, they look as good as they feel. There’s even an element of practicality about the Huayra. It only seats two, in a snug environment, but lift the deck lid to expose the engine, and on either side, housed in carbon fiber, there are storage spaces suitably sized for a set of overnight luggage per occupant.
While most in this segment utilize active aerodynamics, few adjust the body as a whole. A hydro pneumatic jack at the front of the car not only allows you to crest speed bumps, but at maximum attack it adjusts the height and angle of the nose to reduce drag and adjust the aerodynamic properties for enhanced handling. There are also two individually operable active aero flaps on the tail that can provide independent downforce to either side of the Huayra. Drop the anchors – requiring a deft prod of a brake pedal dripping with feedback and infinite range of modulation – and the two flaps deploy as an airbrake with enough force to adjust the earth’s rotation. Brembo carbon ceramic brakes aid the stopping power, whilst the ride is controlled by Ohlins coil-over shocks. There’s no adaptive damping here, and at low speeds the ride quality is a bit jittery, but on the whole the ride is still superbly well tied together and suitably comfortable.
Horacio Pagani, a man obsessed with design, does a surprisingly good job of the engineering stuff. The 7-speed single-clutch sequential gearbox that drives the rear wheels is mounted behind the differential to allow the engine to be mounted closer to the rear wheels. The engine is a behemoth of AMG-creation; a 6-liter bi-turbo V12 handcrafted in Affalterbach that develops 700 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. The combination of aerodynamic smoothness and outright power equals a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.0 seconds flat before reaching a V-max of 224mph. The Huayra lives up to its name too – sounding like a raging wind god rather than a supercar.
Though the Huayra is a piece of art, it boasts some creature comforts too. There’s climate control and navigation – housed within a beautifully machined aluminum housing milled from a 15-pound block of the stuff. Should a howling V12 not be to your aural liking, a Sonus Faber sound system features with 1200-watts, a digital sound processor, and speakers worked into the interior that look as beautifully bespoke as every other detail of the Huayra. Though not tested by any local safety organizations – no supercars are – the Huayra packs basic safety features like ABS brakes, electronic stability control, and airbags as mandated by the feds.
It might not be as technologically advanced as the latest from Ferrari or McLaren, but who really cares? This isn’t just a Pagani – this is a piece of multi-faceted art that looks as good standing still as it does on the move, and swathes you in opulence and attention to detail few can match.