They say that if you want to make the best possible compliment to anyone, just imitate it. Think about music, for example: bands of the past like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and many more have always been imitated to the point where an entire genre has been redefined. To create something which is not just unique, but also emanates a charismatic charm is the goal of every artist. Or engineer, like in the case of Pagani.
If you’re into cars, there’s a chance you love Pagani and their works of art. The symbiosis between art and technology is marvellous and is crucial for creativity. Passion is essential, but not the only thing necessary in being creative. Driving a Pagani means experiencing a balance between tasteful and purposeful design, masterfully crafted in Carbo-titanium. The level of craftsmanship blends beautifully with the high levels of technical development. It is an experience which will remain impressed in your memory forever.
One-man-vision cars are perhaps the best to drive, because they provide a journey into the soul of the man who envisioned them. They encapsulate the vision of their maker and make no apologies in showcasing that. Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini… all these Brands have a man behind their philosophy: thank God they all still stay true to their roots and still deliver. Horacio Pagani is indeed the modern day Enzo Ferrari: art and science go together beautifully, and no other manufacturer has taken this idea as seriously as this tiny Atelier outside Modena.
Driving a Huayra press car is one of the greatest achievements in Escape on Wheels 2-year-only career. It is the coronation of a dream, an individual aspiration born a while ago by reading many magazines and playing hours in racing video games. Taking Huayra chassis #1, the iconic Transformers 4 car, the one that has been on Jay Leno’s Garage and driven by countless of other important people, is quite a wild ride and a remarkable experience.
“Don’t be nervous, just drive Jacopo and enjoy the day.” Kind and reassuring words from the good man who is Luca Venturi, perhaps one of the most notorious figures associated to Pagani Automobili. Easy to say for him, since he has driven the Huayra for many miles across the globe, but for me, I had to take a deep breath and begin manoeuvring this 2 million + GT in streets as tight as a narrow pair of jeans. Remaining calm and professional after you signed a 1.000.000 Euros of franchise deductible is no easy task, imagine reversing all that carbon fiber close to ancient walls! If I screw up, the real escape here will be from Luca, Pagani Automobili and justice. In order to keep things under control, I started operating the Huayra pretty much like I was checking the pre take-off list on a airplane: left foot? on the brake; key? turned 2 turns to the right, electric power and ignition on; shifter? in P; all clear, off we go. The start up was remarkably civilized and from the interior there isn’t almost any clue of outrageous exhaust note. From the instant, you feel to be sitting inside a very well mannered, long-wheel-base gentleman’s GT. Select the gear via the aluminium shifter, which engages every gear with a delightful, mechanical “click”, then release the brake and the Huayra moves away with ease. So far, so remarkably (and especially reassuringly) good. As soon as I made my way out of the streets of Castelvetro di Modena, I lowered the front-end lift and begun the real test.
Much to my relief and joy, the Huayra revealed shockingly easy to drive, let alone to manoeuvre. What has been more interesting was the quality of the ride. From the first meters, the real surprise is the level of development, which is extraordinary. Not that I was having doubts, but the craftsmanship has reached levels exceeding robot qualities. Sure, Pagani is a worldwide sensation now, but it is still a small (and classy) Atelier: the levels of refinement are incredible and the Huayra manages to achieve levels of comfort and grip of the highest levels possible and without active suspension. The car is pliant and smooth even over rough tarmac, but responsive and agile when it comes to cornering. I don’t recall ever scratching the front splitter on the ground during the test: this will please all owners for sure. With a wheelbase of 2,7 meters, the Huayra is quite long but you hardly notice its length while driving it on a twisty road.
All the fears I had disappeared quickly and the confidence level grew corner after corner, as much as the size of the smile on my face. The hisses of the wastegate, located right in the intakes behind the cockpit was intoxicating, and it gave the clear sensation that the powerful 6 litre AMG twin turbo V12 is a beast breathing heavily under the carbon skin. The acceleration was just as explosive as an F18 catapulting off an aircraft carrier with full afterburners: the Huayra is devastatingly quick, and never seems to lose any traction under full power. Did I mention how addicting it is? Feeling the torque coming all at once and holding your breath as you try to hang on to the steering wheel as the G force presses you against the seat is fantastic. I could literally spend all day launching the Huayra, much to the disappoint of everyone at Pagani!
The handling privileges a mild understeer at the corner entrance, but the car always maintains a neutral behaviour, ideal for everyone. The throttle modulation was quite tricky at low speeds, but that issue disappeared as speed increased.
The Huayra excels in showcasing not only the creativity of Pagani’s engineers, but also the boldness in making a radical departure from the Zonda’s philosophy: for a small Atelier, this is a very brave move, as it is not easy in differentiating the Company’s identity, especially when it is strongly tied to an icon.
The Huayra is one of the youngest representatives from the Motor Valley to carry on the 100+-year-old tradition of building fine machinery. It is as pureblood as the Region’s Lambrusco and gnocco fritto we love to stuff our belly with at perhaps the best restaurant in the world, Da Beppe of Castelfranco Emilia, a stone throw from the factory. Let’s say that you enjoy the Region finest products pretty much the same way: the best ideas are born at the restaurant and the best cars have to be driven to and from it. The entire area enclosing Castelvetro Modenese, Vignola and Spilamberto tells about the tales of men living simply, but with a great creativity. The views that the hills offer on the Panaro Valley is quite spectacular and it adds to the fact that Modena is a true petrolhead’s playground, in every way. First and foremost, the Huayra is a street hypercar and it is no track-day special of some sort. It is elegant and it is well suited for a long trips to great locations thanks to its incredible levels of comfort. The luggage storage, which are two compartments each one located on one side of the car have enough room for quite some bags and are quite practical to use in case of a long trip. Still, the adrenaline rush coming exactly whenever you press on to the throttle is what makes the Huayra exciting and almost magical. It fits like a tailored pair of gloves as it was especially made for driving: I am glad this is a car not privileging design over technical finesse. The same pleasure in observing the details is found in between the corners on the hills of Modena: the perfect blend between creative design and clever engineering does not translate into a compromise between the two. It is a powerful driving inspiration which exalts both, making the word excellence acquiring a whole new meaning.