Pagani’s V-12 Utopia: A steampunk dream with a gated manual


Let’s say you’re an Italian company specializing in multi-million-dollar, combustion-powered supercars. In 2018, you embark on a research project to see whether that high-end market has an appetite for an electric model. Fast forward to 2022. What sort of supercar do you build next?

You’re Pagani, by the way. It would seem the answer is this, a 2800-pound, V-12-powered steampunk stunner with a gated manual transmission. You then name it Utopia, in case anyone at Rimac suspects you of hedging bets.

Pagani Utopia open doors

The Utopia is more svelte than the Huayra it replaces, both in visual weight and in actual mass. Pagani says that its current owners, those most likely to buy again from the brand, asked for simplicity and lightness, with a priority on driving pleasure. Test mules showed that the codenamed C10 repeated the Huayra’s mid-engine layout—and trademark center-exit quad exhaust—but wore fewer ducts and vents. The nose was less beaky, too. Unmasked, the Utopia gazes at you with a more friendly look: The quad bulbs are grouped two to a sock, rather than one apiece, as in the Zonda or Huayra. Ducts are carved and tucked into the contours of the body, not blistered out of the sheetmetal. It’s a softer look.

The cabin tells a similar story of paring back, though the analog gauges and exposed shift linkage preserves the mechanical charm of Pagani. The wheel is milled from a single block of aluminum, as are the pedals, but overall there’s far less flashy machined metal. The center-console screen is gone; the only display is sandwiches between actual-needle gauges in front of the driver. It’s a wise decision—the Utopia will age more gracefully with fewer digital readouts to recall earlier times.

The jewel of the carbon-tub vehicle is its twin-turbo, 6.0-liter V-12 engine built for Pagani by Mercedes-AMG. It makes 852 hp at 6000 rpm, and all 809 lb-ft of torque is available between 2800 and 5900 rpm. Though it planned to offer an automatic gearbox alongside a manual, gated unit, Pagani dismissed a dual-clutch setup as too heavy. Instead, it tapped Xtrac to build a single-clutch unit with seven gears.

Pagani Utopia engine mercedes-amg v12

Suspension anatomy is double wishbones at all four corners. Brakes are by Brembo: a set of six-piston calipers painted gold and gripping ventilated carbon-ceramic discs up front, and a pair of four-piston units at the rear. Wheels are staggered, 22-inchers in the back and 21-inch rims in the front. Shoes are by Pirelli—PZero Corsas, unless you request the cold-weather SottoZero option. (Bless you!)

Though we’ll have to settle for a poster of the Pagani Utopia, we cannot help but admire bossman Horacio’s conviction that combustion offers an experience that batteries cannot. It’s not all about the numbers … even with numbers this outrageous.

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