- Apr 1, 2011
A bedroom wall poster if there ever was one.
The first thing you'll notice about Horacio Pagani's newest generation of hypercar is it's ridiculous name, and how best to pronounce it without sounding a little slow, "Hue-ay-ar". After much deliberation and many google searches, it turns out that it's named after the mythological God of Wind: Wayra (Why-Ruh!). Which is not surprising once you've driven it, because the turbo-chargers make this car sound like some sort of demonic tropical cyclone, as it's two (yes, two) turbos spool up before giving you a frightening kick up the backside.
Since this is a hypercar, what better to compare it to than the recently released, and brand-spanking new, LaFerrari, which is made by, you guessed it, Ferrari. The Huayra and the Ferrari The Ferrari can trade punches all day long. Horsepower: 730 for the Huayra, 963 for the Ferrari. This may seem like an unassailable deficit, until you look at the torque figures: The LaFerrari produces 900Nm of torque which is a considerable amount, even by hypercar standards, but it pails in comparison to the Huayra, which rips up the road with an astonishing 1100Nm. Top Speed, well, nobody knows the Ferrari's top speed as it's never been tested, but it's safe to say that it'll be over 370 kph. The Huayra can also do 370 kph, you just need a straight piece of road the length of Russia. 0-60: Both cars are sub 3 seconds. And on, and on it goes.
One crucial edge that the Pagani has over the Ferrari are those four contact patches that connect the chassis with the tarmac. The Huayra has the option to fit a set of ultra-grippy "Top Gear Record" tyres, which enable to it set lap times quicker than GT3 race cars, however they don't last particularly long as the Huayra want's to spin it's wheels so much, it'll suck the tarmac into a black hole. The Ferrari also has an upgraded tyre option, however they're not as grippy as the Huayra's.
Unlike the Ferrari The Ferrari, the Huayra doesn't have any electrical energy recovery systems, so it only produces a measly 730 horsepower from its' 6.0 litre, twin turbo-charged V12. Yes, you read that correctly, a 6 litre V12 with two turbo-chargers! And it's not just any V12, this one is produced by Mercedes' in-house engine nutjobs, AMG. You know, those chaps that just cleaned up the Formula One World Championship and made everyone else look like mobile chicanes? Yeah, them.
The Huayra then, is a testament to the notion of 'money is no object, so let's go and make the craziest performance car there is'. The interior being case in point, as the Huayra is made from Carbon fibre, and little else. It has two mechanisms for changing gears as you can shift with the paddles on the wheel, and the sequential shifter on the floor (although unfortunately it's not active in Assetto Corsa). The speedometer dial goes in a counter clock-wise direction, which for the first few laps is confusing, but it's just another example of being crazy for the sake of being crazy. It leaves you with the impression that most of dials and switches have been taken from the film set of Top Gun, yet could easily be the main exhibit at an art gallery with their stylish titanium finish.
Now, it's no use having all this power, torque and unique styling if the car can't go round corners. But you'd be wrong, this car can go around corners very, very quickly. This is partly due to those ultra sticky tyres, but it's mainly to do with the Huayra's active aerodynamics. Four fins that change position and move about depending on your cornering angle, speed and a complex algorithm (which Assetto Corsa has accurately replicated) all just to keep this controlled explosion on the road, rather than being scraped off the barriers by the marshals. This car simply shouldn't work. With that amount of power and torque, it defies the laws of physics. But because of it's active aero, somehow it does work.
The turn in is aggressive and responsive, but unless you get on the power too quickly, there's no oversteer. Considering it's power output and general engine figures, the balance of the car is surprisingly good. Going through the left handed turn nine of Spa-Francorchamps, you think there's no possible way you can take it quickly, and yet it can. Turn 9 is typically understeer city as the track drops away from the car, but in the Huayra, you can attack it almost like a winged open-wheeler.
"But what about slowing all this madness down?" I hear you asking. Well, the stopping power is utterly astonishing, and for me, the rate which it decelerates is the most incredible aspect of this car. In fact, the only way you could possibly slow down more quickly would be to hit a Second World War bunker. The carbon ceramic brake discs are 15 inches in diameter, so once you've stopped from hyperspace speeds in a very short period of time, you'll have to peel your face from the windscreen and visit your local dentist to get your teeth replaced after they've been embedded in the steering wheel.
Drawbacks? Well, the force feedback makes the car feel like you're driving on a bed of marsh-mellows floating among the clouds, it's that soft, especially considering it's ultra low profile tyres. As a result you often find yourself turning into corners with more steering lock than you actually need, which leaves you wanting the ability to stiffen the suspension and anti-roll bars to get a bit more feeling through the wheel, and because you can't do so, it often forces you to rely on other senses to judge how much speed you can carry through a corner, like judging how quickly the scenery is travelling past the windows. The wheel has enough weight to it, you just can't feel all the little bumps, nooks and crannies in tracks that you would otherwise be able to feel in other high performance cars.
If you decide you'd like to turn off the traction control, then getting the back end to step out is all too easy, but holding power slides feels less intuitive than in say, the Ferrari 458, because of that baby-bottom-soft force feedback. As a result of all this, the Huayra never feels quite as intimidating as you might expect it to feel, or even perhaps, want it to feel. You know it's a big silly hypercar with ludicrous amounts of power, but it doesn't handle like a total lunatic unless you grab it by the scruff of the neck and wring every last bit of performance from it, and because it's such a crazy car, you almost want it to kill you, and it just doesn't.
Sure, if you whack on the less grippy set of high performance tyres, you'll think twice about going near the throttle, but it still feels like a very approachable car. At low speeds the soft suspension makes it as comfortable as your faithful living room couch, and at high speed the active aerodynamics keep it planted to the road, whereas other cars would be six rows into the nearest grandstand. I have absolutely no doubt that Kunos Simulazione have recreated this car more realistically than any other simulation ever has, so it came as a surprise to find this 730 horsepower beast was not quite as prickly as I assumed it would be.
Additionally, I've never thought the Huayra looked quite right aesthetically. No matter what angle I look at it from it just looks... wrong. And those wing mirrors are utterly useless. It's certainly not a bad looking car, but it isn't anywhere near as good looking as the Zonda. That's no knock on Kunos's modelling work, because they've done an impeccable, laser-accurate job, but the car itself just doesn't look quite right, but that's just my opinion.
3 out of 5 stars.
A gentle giant that will snap your neck.
This is a damn good car, and with a price tag of $1.6 million, you'd better hope you're getting value for money. However, the beauty of Sim-Racing means that you can own your very own Huayra, replicated with an almost psychotic attention to detail thanks to Kunos Simulazione, for just $49.95.