by Karl Furlong
Exclusivity matters. In life, we all want access to the VIP seats, the first-edition book by a famous author, or an overnight stay in the penthouse suite. The same applies to the motoring industry, where manufacturers are constantly looking to cash in on the public's proclivity for items and experiences that most others can't have. This goes some way to explaining why the Pagani Huayra Roadster, limited to just 100 units, is such a desirable mid-engine sports car. Of course, it's much more than that, succeeding the Pagani Zonda in the Italian manufacturer's lineup. With exotic styling and a dramatic cabin festooned in carbon fiber and top-class leather, this car is a sensory overload. Clever use of carbo-titanium means it's even lighter than the Huayra coupe, and it's ballistically quick thanks to a 754-horsepower twin-turbocharged V12 that'll see it hit 60 mph in around three seconds. Being named after a Quechua wind god seems entirely appropriate, although the price of well over $2 million will ensure that ever owning the Huayra - even used examples - will require prolonged prayer for most of us mere mortals. There's nothing quite like it.
The Huayra Roadster's design echoes that of the Zonda Cinque Roadster. Unlike the Huayra coupe, the Huayra Roadster uses conventional doors instead of the Gull-wing doors of the former, as these are more challenging to incorporate into a roadster design while also keeping the car's weight low. Pagani has also left much of the mechanicals exposed, such as the area below the gear shift knob and when opening the vast engine cover at the back. Unusually, the roadster is lighter than the coupe by over 150 pounds thanks to the use of carbo-titanium. The Mercedes-AMG-sourced V12 engine produces 754 horsepower, up from the Huayra Coupe's 720 hp, and is paired with a seven-speed automated manual transmission. These are healthy power increases over the Zonda Cinque Roadster, which used a naturally aspirated 7.3-liter V12 producing around 669 hp.
6.0-liter Twincharged V12 Gas
7-Speed Automatic Manual Transmission
Like most cars bearing the Pagani badge, the Huayra Roadster is a piece of automotive art, not merely an aggressive drop-top. There is a plethora of unique design cues to digest. The front-end is actually the car's most restrained aspect, with quad headlamps and raised fenders. The bizarre wing mirrors look like leaves drooping on tree branches, and from the driver's seat, they are shaped like eyes. The dramatic side profile displays the staggered 20-/21-inch forged alloy wheels, but it's at the back where things really look extraordinary, with stacked quad exhaust outlets and a large swathe of carbon fiber below them. The car's active aerodynamic tech is on full display, with adjustable flaps front and rear. Opening up the massive rear engine cover or the doors is easy thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber, so these body panels are a lot lighter than they look. Beneath the engine cover, the sight of the big V12 and the Pagani's various suspension components instantly draws a crowd.
The Huayra Roadster measures 181.3 inches in length, 80.2 inches wide, and 46 inches in height, with a wheelbase of 110 inches. That makes it a few inches shorter than the Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, but the Pagani is a taller car. The big talking point, however, is the Huayra Roadster's weight of just 2,822 pounds, over 150 lbs less than the Huayra Coupe.
The mid-engined Huayra Roadster employs a Mercedes-AMG 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 that produces 754 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. It's only available with rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automated manual transmission developed by Xtrac. These are mighty outputs in a car that weighs under 3,000 lbs, which explains why the Huayra Roadster accelerates to 60 mph in around three seconds and can reach a top speed of 210 mph. Still, for a fraction of the Pagani's cost, the all-wheel-drive Porsche 911 Turbo S will leave it behind in the benchmark sprint.
While laughably rapid, the Pagani isn't free of turbo lag, however, and the engine only fully comes to life from around 3,000 rpm. The absence of a modern dual-clutch transmission, all-wheel-drive, and launch control can also make it trickier to achieve peak acceleration. Keep the revs up, though, and very little will keep up with it. Passing power is brutal, and it accelerates from 60 to around 150 mph with unrelenting force.
Using a combination of carbo-titanium and carbo-triax HP52 for the Pagani's monocoque, this makes the structure incredibly stiff and ensures that the loss of a fixed roof has had zero impact on rigidity. A hypercar it may be, but the Huayra Roadster's helm isn't hyperactive in relaying feedback to the driver like some Ferraris; rather, you can make smoother, less frenetic, but still shatteringly quick progress in the Pagani. The basic suspension setup is tuned brilliantly, with fantastic body control and good composure over moderate bumps, with only really bad surfaces upsetting the carbon chassis in any way. The Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires provide tremendous grip; in fact, the Huayra Roadster is claimed to generate a maximum of 1.8 g of lateral grip, an astonishing figure. The active aerodynamics system, meanwhile, features four external flaps, maintaining optimal downforce and providing the Pagani with rock-solid stability at high speeds. If there is a weak link, it's the automated manual, which simply lacks the alacrity of a modern dual-clutch. The engine also doesn't sound as characterful as the V12 used in the older Zonda. Neither of these aspects can spoil the sublime experience of driving the roadster at high speed, though.
Sipping fuel at a miserly rate will be as relevant to a Pagani Huayra Roadster owner as the car's ability to cart around a family and their luggage. While EPA estimates are not available for the roadster specifically, the heavier coupe is estimated to return 11/17/13 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycle. The Roadster should have a similar penchant for premium gasoline. The 19-gallon gas tank should allow for a range of around 247 miles, based on the coupe's consumption figures.
Three is a crowd in the Huayra Roadster, which seats just the driver and one companion in an exquisitely crafted and dramatically designed cabin. Plastic doesn't exist in Pagani's world, just endless amounts of fine leather, titanium, and carbon fiber trim. The cabin's triumph is in the detailing: ahead of the parking brake controller are smart toggle switches for the power windows, ahead of these is the gear shift lever with its exposed linkage below, the gauges are beautifully crafted, and even opening the door requires the use of an unusual toggle lever, not a traditional door handle. The seats themselves are tailored in leather and are comfortable, although headroom is limited with the roof in place. You also sit close to the passenger; this isn't an especially wide cockpit. The low seating position requires a bit more effort when getting out.
Official figures for the Huayra Roadster's cargo capacity are unavailable, although it's probably not worth measuring. Although there appears to be a 'frunk', lifting this lid reveals nothing more than a better way to gawk at the suspension components in front. Rather, on either side of the engine, two small boxy compartments are available, but each one can accommodate no more than a single carry-on or two grocery bags - if you've purchased a long baguette, it's best to ask the baker to cut it in half first. Some packing space is available behind the front seats, but nothing significant. You can, however, order custom-fit luggage bags for the space behind the seats and for the cargo boxes. However, a cargo-hauler this is not.
Pagani has concentrated more on exceptional craftsmanship than gadgets, so although the materials are worthy of an exotic, you can get more equipment in much cheaper cars. Of course, there are essentials like power windows, a rearview camera, and configurable interior lighting. There is also a switch to manually operate the external aerodynamic wings. On the safety front, airbags are fitted, as is a powerful Brembo braking system and electronic stability control. However, don't expect to find modern driver aids like blind-spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control. A variety of options, such as various wheel designs, different leathers, and multiple paint colors, can be chosen from.
The Huayra Roadster makes use of a central color touchscreen to control various settings, and the infotainment setup includes a USB input, Bluetooth, and a high-quality nine-channel audio system, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are missing. The graphics aren't too bad and the menus are simple enough to work through, but there are faster touchscreens out there. A smaller LCD screen is positioned between the analog dials ahead of the driver.
The Pagani Huayra Roadster hasn't been entirely problem-free, with a recall being issued for a faulty battery that could cause a stall or the engine not to start at all. Although a basic warranty is likely included with the purchase of a new Pagani, we were unable to confirm warranty information for the Huayra Roadster at the time of writing.
Unsurprisingly, local authorities haven't crash-tested this multi-million piece of exotica, so no official crash ratings exist for the Huayra Roadster. Interestingly, a prototype of the Huayra Roadster was erroneously crashed into a tree by a tester - both the driver and the passenger were reported to be uninjured, with Pagani claiming that the ultra-stiff monocoque performed as intended. Along with dual front airbags, the Huayra Roadster also comes with electronic stability control and a rearview camera.
Pagani has defied the odds with the Huayra Roadster. Where convertibles are almost always heavier, less dynamic, and less rigid than their fixed-roof counterparts, the Huayra Roadster bucks that trend thanks to its unique construction. The carbo-titanium and carbo-triax HP52 monocoque ensures exceptional stiffness while also reducing weight compared with the coupe. Together with the even more powerful V12, the result is a hypercar that is wickedly quick and mesmerizing to drive. Besides being limited to just 100 examples, the Huayra Roadster's classic status is guaranteed by its extraordinarily detailed cabin and breathtaking styling. In fact, it feels so special that taking it out on public roads feels like too great of a risk - the remedy, of course, is to fire up that V12, which is all the convincing that anyone needs.
It's a brave question, and the answer reveals why. At an MSRP of $2,600,000, it's one of the most expensive cars on the planet, and that's before the destination fee and any extras are considered. It's also over a million bucks pricier than the coupe.
As a limited-edition standalone model, the Huayra Roadster - all 100 of them - succeeds the revered Zonda Roadster. At its stratospheric price, Pagani will be happy to cater to its customers' specific tastes, and the cabin can be kitted out in an array of colors. The biggest decision, then, would be deciding whether to part with that much money for a two-seater hypercar.
The Bugatti Chiron may be a fixed-roof coupe, but at close to $3,000,000, it is also preserved only for an elite clientele. The Chiron's stats read more like those of a power boat than a car, with its 8.0-liter, quad-turbo W16 engine producing an astounding 1,479 hp and 1,180 lb-ft of torque. Thankfully, it has all-wheel-drive and will complete the benchmark 0-60 mph sprint in a mere 2.5 seconds, so it's the quicker car here. The Chiron Super Sport 300+, as the name implies, can achieve a top speed of over 300 mph. So yes, the Bugatti is quicker and has a wonderfully luxurious cabin from which to look down upon everyone else. Somehow, though, the Pagani looks, drives, and feels like an even more eye-widening hypercar. It loses the on-paper battle, but astounds whether you're wringing its neck or simply just sitting inside it. At these prices, that's what we expect a car to do, so it's our choice by a slim margin.
Even Lamborghini's most expensive model costs less than a quarter what the Pagani Huayra Roadster does. The Lambo is armed with a 6.5-liter naturally aspirated V12 that produces 759 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. With all-wheel-drive, it is a few tenths quicker to 60 mph, hitting the mark in only 2.7 seconds. If this were a battle of engines alone, then the SVJ would win as its V12 mill makes an intoxicating noise. Although the Lamborghini handles exceptionally well for its size, it's over 500 lbs heavier than the Pagani, so it doesn't have the same agile responses. Both cars are also saddled with outdated gearboxes, lacking the dual-clutch prowess of more modern supercars. The Lamborghini's cabin looks great in isolation, but the Pagani steals the show here with its jaw-dropping design and gorgeous materials. Choosing between these two is not an easy task, and although the Huayra Roadster can't be matched for exclusivity and wow factor, the Aventador just offers so much brute force and attitude for far less money.