Driving meets art in the Pagani Huayra Roadster
If there was an art gallery dedicated to showcasing beautiful cars, it would need to keep a whole floor clear for Pagani. In its short history, Horacio Pagani's boutique rival to Ferrari and Lamborghini has developed a back catalogue of automotive erotica to make any petrol head weak at the knees. We didn't think it possible, but the company's latest offering might just be its most beautiful car yet.
Meet the Huayra Roadster, described by Horacio Pagani as a rebellious sister to the coupe. Building any type of convertible isn't easy, but creating a drop-top supercar introduces a unique set of challenges. Removing the roof means removing one of the major structural members in the car, which means structural bracing needs to be added to stop flex over bumps and in the corners – but more bracing means more weight. And as we all know, weight is the enemy of performance.
Even compared to the average super-spider, the Roadster suffered a long and difficult birth. Development started way back in 2010, but the whole project was killed and restarted in 2013. The resulting design is one of the most beautiful we've seen, but it's backed by some seriously impressive engineering.
For one, the Roadster is actually lighter and stiffer than the Coupe, largely thanks to the extensive use of materials called Carbo-Titanium and Carbo-Triax HP52. Pagani says both materials are more advanced than those being used in Formula 1 cars, and bring with them a 52 percent increase in stiffness compared to garden-variety carbon fiber. All up, the car's 1,280-kg (2,822-lb) curb weight is actually 80 kg (176 lb) less than the Coupe.
With such a light frame to push, you could slot a crate bent-eight into the Huayra and it would still be quick, but that isn't really how Horacio Pagani likes to do things. Instead, power comes from a bespoke Mercedes-AMG V12 making 764 hp (570 kW) of power and 1,000 Nm of torque. Even though it's twin-turbocharged, Pagani says the big engine offers light-switch throttle response down low and a screaming top end, all the while meeting Euro 6A and 6B emissions standards.
Interestingly, there's no dual-clutch gearbox, with a seven-speed single-clutch unit sending power to the rear wheels. Pagani says the single-clutch unit is around 40 percent lighter than a dual-clutch unit, even though it can't shift nearly as fast.
With so much power and so little weight there's no doubt the Roadster will be quick in a straight line, but suspension which shares plenty with the bonkers Huayra BC should help make it a sharp handler as well. Coupled with a five-mode stability control system and 380-mm (15-inch) carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes, owners should be able to get somewhere near the car's limits on the road without fear of flying backwards into a hedge.
The shape of the Roadster is very, very pretty, but it's also very smart. There are four flaps on the car, two at each end, which are constantly moving around to produce maximum downforce at almost any speed. Working in tandem with an active front suspension, they keep the bottom of the car parallel to the road at all times, allowing the massive rear diffuser and front splitter to work in the most efficient fashion.
You might have noticed we haven't mentioned the roof yet. That's because it doesn't fold or flip like a regular convertible, it's more of a targa top. Along with a portable fabric roof that can be stored in the car for emergencies, the car comes with a carbon and glass roof for a more traditional, coupe-like silhouette. The glass in the hard roof is UV treated to stop the owner burning their bald spot, too, a touch likely to be appreciated by the type of person who can afford a Huayra.
Finally, we're going to talk about the cabin in the Roadster, because it's simply too stunning to ignore. It's essentially the same as the cabin in the Coupe, which means a team of designers has agonized over every detail, every chrome switch and leather stitch. From the quilted bucket seats to the gorgeous exposed gear linkage, the entire interior manages to be eye-catching and tasteful at the same time. Even six years after the Huayra was first launched, no other manufacturer comes close to matching Pagani for drama inside.
So, what price all this over-the-top power and luxury? As you might imagine, it doesn't come cheap. Just 99 examples of the Roadster will be built, with a starting price of €2,280,000 (US$2,410,600) before tax. Seems exorbitant, but if it's a unique slice of rolling artwork you're after, it's probably a small price to pay.
The car will be launched at the Geneva Motor Show, where New Atlas will be on the ground covering all the action.