The perfect hypercar, 30 years in the making

Long before the Pagani utopia pictured here, Horacio Pagani founded Pagani Automobili SpA as Modena Design, an automotive consulting firm in 1991. Pagani worked for Renault and Lamborghini before purchasing an autoclave to begin his car-building journey.

He began work on his first project, the Fangio F1 prototype, in 1992 and launched the car in 1999 under a new name: Zonda. After releasing several special editions, Pagani launched his second car, the Huayra, in 2011 as a technological display of exotic materials and wild motoring with a cyberpunk interior.

As Pagani Automobili enters its third decade, it does so with the aptly named Utopia, the quintessential essence of a Pagani hypercar in terms of looks, extravagance and handling. The latter is particularly crucial, given that the Zonda isn’t exactly known for veering.

setting the stage

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton sold his unique Pagani Zonda LH (LH for Lewis Hamilton) in 2021 after seven years of ownership. Although reports say he sold the car out of “environmental awareness,” Hamilton claimed in a 2018 article for the sunday time that his Zonda is the “best sounding car” despite being “terrible to drive”.

We do not expect such a failure from Pagani Utopia. Rather than shoehorn electric motors and batteries to deliver mind-blowing acceleration despite inherent weight penalties, Pagani had three main goals when conceptualizing the Utopia: simplicity, lightness, and driving pleasure.

“After being completely absorbed by this grueling creative process, the ideals represented by the project became so intimate to me that any attempt to describe it would have seemed inadequate,” said Horacio Pagani, founder and chief designer of Pagani Automobili. “We put our passion, effort and sacrifice into creating something timeless and cutting edge in terms of technology.”

pagan utopia
pagan utopia. Photo: Pagani Automobili.

Pagani Utopia V12 Engine

The “simplicity” part is a tried and tested Pagani V12 engine developed in partnership with Mercedes-AMG. It features the same 6.0-liter displacement and twin-turbo forced induction as the Huayra, pumping out 864 horsepower and 808 lb-ft. of torsion disguised as utopia. Buyers can select a standard seven-speed Xtrac automated manual transmission or a pure manual gearbox with seven gears and a clutch pedal, which sends the engine’s growl exclusively to the rear wheels.

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Pagani couldn’t divulge performance numbers, but we think this is by design. Despite sporting a very twitchy Mercedes-AMG V12, the Utopia (or any Pagani, for that matter) isn’t all about acceleration and top speed, although you’re looking at a seriously fast hypercar. For the sake of comparison, the Huayra accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 238 mph. We hope Pagani Utopia is just as fast.

light construction

The enigmatic founder of Lotus, Colin Chapman, said it best: “Simplify, then add lightness.” Resisting the temptation to implement a faster-shifting but heavy dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the new Pagani Utopia is off to a glorious start. But the mantra of lightness goes even further with the car’s featherweight build.

It has a patented Carbo-Titanium architecture, an exclusive Pagani invention that combines high-strength titanium with carbon composites. It also gets chrome-alloy subframes, A-class carbon fiber bodywork (38 percent stiffer at the same density as regular carbon fiber, Pagani said) and a titanium quad exhaust system that weighs just 13 pounds.

Pagani claims that the Utopia has a dry weight of 2,822 pounds. (1,280 kilos). For perspective, the GMA T.50 weighs 2,174 lbs. (986 kilos), while the Koenigsegg CC850 has a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio (1,385 horsepower and a dry weight of 1,385 kilos).

pagan utopia.
Photo: Pagani Automobili.

active aerodynamics

The Pagani Utopia lacks the ugly aerodynamic parts and unnecessary appendages like the Huayra, and that’s a good thing. Despite the lack of wind-guiding spoilers, it achieves higher downforce and reduced drag by incorporating aerodynamic features into its overall shape. Best of all, Pagani did it in style, adding to Utopia’s hyper-exotic vibe. Pagani claims that it took four thousand stylistic drawings, two 1:1 scale models, and a six-year effort to nail down Utopia’s aerodynamic properties.

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For example, the staggered 21-inch front and 22-inch rear wheels have turbine-shaped carbon extractors that pull hot air from the brakes and minimize underbody turbulence. In addition, delicate wing mirrors float in the air with airfoil-shaped brackets to help the cause. The aluminum alloy double wishbone suspension has electronic dampers to keep the Utopia planted at speed.

Interior without custom screen

As expected of a Pagani hypercar, the Utopia’s two-seat cabin displays meticulous build quality and robust, exotic materials. Pagani created the steering wheel and pedal assembly from a single block of aluminum, and the exposed gear lever mechanism never fails to delight the senses.

The “timeless” interior gets by without the usual complicated touch screens and software. Instead, Utopia settles for easy-to-read analog dials with skeletal construction and LED backlighting to highlight the vehicle’s custom ambience. The only digital part on the dash is a small display for the instrument cluster. The cabin, meanwhile, has premium red leather, cream soft-touch surfaces, and metal hardware.

Interior layout of Pagani Utopia.
Interior layout of Pagani Utopia. Photo: Pagani Automobili.

Pagani Utopia Price

The limited-edition Pagani Utopia won’t come cheap. Base price starts at around $2.2 million and Pagani will only make 99 examples. But like the Zonda and Huayra, we expect the boutique automaker to produce plenty of special-edition variants of the Utopia. We’re not sure if Utopia will carry the Pagani torch in the electrified age, but we’re glad that the brand’s unmistakable artistry shines brighter with each new car.

Alvin Reyes is a columnist for Automoblog and an expert on sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics and accounting in his youth and is still very much in love with his old Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos and source: Pagani Automobili.

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