Home » The Pagani Utopia Is A V12-Powered, Manually-Shifted Masterpiece

The Pagani Utopia Is A V12-Powered, Manually-Shifted Masterpiece


Pagani just released its latest hypercar and it’s a bit of an unexpected masterpiece. The Utopia is the company’s third new car since its founding 30 years ago and it features an 864-horsepower V12 engine and a seven-speed manual transmission. Bucking current trends, it doesn’t have electric motors, high voltage batteries, or huge screens. Instead, it tries to be as simple as a hypercar could be.

You read that right. Pagani was founded in 1992, yet this car is only its third new vehicle since the company’s inception. The Utopia isn’t just a successor to the Huayra, it also references the past while it moves the brand into the future.

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According to Pagani’s site, when the now 66-year-old Horacio Pagani was a kid in Argentina, he had a dream to make the most beautiful cars in the world. He spent time learning with an aeronautical and naval modeler. And at home, he made his own models out of balsa wood.


Over time, Pagani would be introduced to the works of Leonardo da Vinci, and eventually come to the conclusion that everything has to be beautiful and functional at the same time. The company says that da Vinci’s legacy influences Pagani’s entire work and philosophy, and I think that you can see some of it here.

Pagani says that Horacio has goals for each of his company’s hypercars. Pagani’s first production car, the 1999 Zonda C12, was designed to replicate the curves of a woman blended with the aggressive looks of a fighter jet. The end result remains striking, even more than two decades later.

And Pagani didn’t rest after, as he got to work on the next car just a few years later in 2003. The Huayra was designed around the goals of “Maximum expression of technology and of the automotive world.” [Ed note: I like the Zonda, I am not a fan of the Huayra and I’m not sure the Huayra counts as the maximum expression of anything other than, like, being able to draw a super fast catfish – MH]

This car? Pagani says that it was designed around input from clients. Those clients apparently answered “simplicity, lightness and the pleasure of driving.” Thus, this car does away with technology that it (and those clients) feel detract from those goals.

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To create the visuals for its latest masterpiece, Pagani says that it drew inspiration from objects from the 1950s like Vespa scooter headlights and parts from Riva speedboats. This car even features turbine wheels, which the company notes draw hot air away from the brakes while reducing turbulence under the vehicle.

It also has special Pirelli tires that, if you look closely enough, you’ll see the silhouette of the Utopia in.

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The rest of the car looks like a mix of old and new. Its shape seems like an evolution of the Zonda and the Huayra. It has stacked taillights like a Zonda. And look at these things; they’re works of art all on their own! [ED Note: Yes, there’s a touch of Mitsuoka Orochi here but the Mitsuoka Orochi is good! – MH]

It also has distinctive mirrors, which have supports shaped like airfoils. Pagani says that those are the result of the company going to an insane level of detail for wind tunnel optimization. But it’s inside where you really start to see Pagani’s goals coming together.

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You’ll first notice the lack of screens. The instrument cluster has a small screen, and that’s it. There are a load of analog instrument gauges and big, aluminum knobs for the driver to adjust controls with.

Pagani’s quest for simplicity even drills down to how interior pieces are made. The steering wheel is milled from a single piece of aluminum, as are the pedals.

And the exposed shifter is just pure mechanical art.

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Located in the aft end of the vehicle is a 6.0-liter twin-turbo AMG V12. It’s making 864 HP and 811 lb-ft of torque and, continuing the theme of simplicity, you’ll find no hybrid systems or electric motors here. Performance numbers haven’t been released yet, but that engine is hauling a vehicle built with a structure of “Carbo-Titanium.” This is what Pagani calls its composite and high-strength steel monocoque. The whole car weighs just 2,822 pounds dry; not much for that AMG-sourced V12 to push.

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Oh, and that V12 is laying the power down through the rear wheels via a seven-speed manual transmission. Pagani has learned that more than two-thirds of its customers prefer real manuals, so for the sake of that aforementioned simplicity and driving pleasure, this hypercar has three pedals. If you really must, there’s also what they’re calling a “Pagani by Xtrac” 7-speed transversal automated manual transmission. Pass.

And while we’re looking around the vehicle with its clamshells open, I should note that elegant leather straps hold them down and you get panniers for your luggage, like you’re riding a vintage motorcycle.

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Pagani says that sketches for the Utopia began over six years ago and its name is explained like this:

Utopia… For the philosopher Thomas More in 1516, Utopia was a place that did not exist, and ever since the name has been given to the idealized places of which we dream. But for those who make their own future, for creators, utopia exists, it is ‘merely’ a case of finding it!

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If you love Pagani’s analog hypercar and can afford its roughly $2,198,947 (2,170,000 Euro) price, I have bad news for you. Pagani is making only 99 of them and they’re already assigned to customers. Still, in a world where supercars and hypercars feel more like they are designed for video games, it’s interesting to see a manufacturer going in the other direction.

(All photo credits to Pagani.)

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27 Responses

  1. At least this one isn’t obese. Just a little overweight instead. Considering it has the strength of an AMG V12 powering it, it is overall quite fit in spite of the heft. This wouldn’t be a bad choice.

    1. Of if you’re really lucky, a car show! Somewhere I have a picture of one of my Smarts parked like next to a Bugatti Veyron at a car show. I still wonder how the Bugatti’s owner felt about that. lol

  2. For once, I’m glad the production run has already been sold out. Otherwise, I’d waste $2.2 million — which I don’t have — on a car I couldn’t easily climb into. Or exit, for that matter. Age does that to you, and I guess signor Pagani’s customers didn’t provide that kind of practical input.

    What they DID ask for, I guess, is Spyker-style jeweled accessories. That looks neat, but for me, a more restrained interior treatment would do just as well. Since 99 people obviously disagree, why not give them what they want?

    Just as we need more actual cars. we also need more low-volume bespoke cars to fulfill the fantasies of those who can afford them. And of those who get to see them.

  3. While I appreciate the thought of making an analog hyper-super-whatever, and especially the artwork that is that shifter, these cars (Pagani, Koenigsegg, etc) just don’t do it for me.

  4. It’s pink! And not electric pink. Just a subtle awful shade of pink.

    I don’t think Leonardo da Vinci would approve.

    I certainly don’t. Damn thing could be electric hyper power or hit and miss farm engine with a three speed belt drive manual transmission. Either way, that this color is even offered ruins it for me. Even if they let me order mine in candy apple green metalflake, which would be an improvement, I don’t want one anymore. I’m nauseous. Mr. Pagani won’t be seeing my $2.2 million.

    1. If you’re interested in old farm engines and have $2.2 million burning a hole in your pocket, I have a 2.5 hp unit I wouldn’t mind selling. Heck, we could work it out so you have some change.

    2. Yeah the color sucks, but I’m sure the billionaires who have reservations on these were allowed to order them in literally any color they wanted. I’m sure they could have gotten them in fucking electric pink zebra print, if that was their jam.

      Most of them will probably be white, though. Rich people have surprisingly little imagination, on the whole.

    3. This is the Mary Kay Pagani.

      Do you KNOW how much Mary Kay wholesale crap you gotta buy to get this?

      I think there’s also murder. Like there’s Grand Achiever sales level, and then there’s Royal Ultimate Achiever level where you’re dropping bodies like a Corleone.

  5. I’m not crazy about the front, but the rear end and the interior is just beautiful. Remove the turbos and it would be even better.
    The existence of this, the T50, and 86 are a sign to me that there is in fact demand for analogue cars. That makes me happy.

  6. I can dig what Pagani is going for and I’d never argue that they don’t make amazing cars (the attention to detail is staggering) but none of their designs have ever hit the mark for me. In general I struggle with the “more is more” or, to paraphrase a favorite Clarkson quote of mine, cars “they wouldn’t stop designing” approach. It just leads to designs that are overcrowded and perplexing.

    I agree with a lot of the sentiment here that hypercars in general are just kind of uninteresting. They’re toys for the top 1% of the 1%. It’s not like you see them in the wild, and it’s not like the majority of them even get driven at all. Plus there are literally dozens of options if you have seven figures to blow and want to top 200. I remember being blown away by the F1 and Veyron as a youngin, but now? Meh. There’s lots of this stuff out there.

    I connect much more with cars that regular people can dream of owning one day. Some version of the 911 has always been my dream car as a result…and I could have made that dream come true this summer, but it would have been a questionable financial decision and it was a tiptronic, so I don’t regret it. My day will come.

    THAT BEING SAID…I do love to see the push for more analog hypercars, between this and the T50 in particular. What fun is there in a spaceship tech cocoon that does 90% of the work for you? Having a car that requires work to drive well is a billion times more rewarding than being able to push a button and hit 60 in 2 seconds…and let’s be real here, the element of danger is part of the charm of really fast cars.

    While this is very much not for me, I am pleased that it exists, and that even the most disconnected, coddled, inhuman weirdos in the world who can afford this type of stuff realize that it’s great too….because driving rules. That’s something we can all agree on.

    1. Pagani is awesome in that the dude made the car he had always dreamed of. However, with unlimited cash, I don’t think I would ever buy one of their cars. They just don’t do it for me.

  7. Awesome. What would our interest in cars be without these absurd gems? It looks expensive. I’m sure it feels expensive, smells expensive and sounds expensive too. In a good way.

    Looks very Zonda-esque and more pursposefull than the Huayra. Like if the zonda mated with a very expensive mechanical watch. The straight beltline and sharper angles definitely are a step back from the swoopier Huayra.

    I think the Huayra’s styling went too far with all the OVALS everywhere. Ovals on dash, on seats, on doors, on latches, on screws, on effing everything. It was just too much. Made it look self-obsessed and narcissistic, IMHO.

    This Utopia is much more under control in that regard (strange phrase, that one), and better for it. Less ovals, more functional shapes, more racy. Looks fantastic.

  8. The 7-speed manual looks like a gear too many and might be a pain to use. The lever laterally centers between the 2-3 and 4-5 columns, so you don’t get self-centering action to line up getting into those gears.

  9. It seems as if I’m the only one that think these cars look ugly as hell. It looks like some kind of deformed over stylized catfish. The interior “details” are just tacky looking and extremely busy. Red leather?? The 80’s called…

  10. The exposed shift linkage is pretty cool and it’s got big Spyker energy inside as someone else alluded to, but 2800 lbs seems like a lot and million+ euro cars as a concept are just sort of offensive. The zipper king would not be impressed.

    1. 2800lbs is pretty light by modern standards. Especially for something in that neighborhood in terms of power. Lighter than a Ferrari F8, McLaren 720S, 911 Turbo S, or even an Agera.

  11. I’m not a hypercar guy anymore. After the mid-00s, I just lost interest. But something about the Huayra and subsequently the Zonda caught my eye. I remember thinking they were the ugliest things ever, until one day I figured it out. The overall shape and proportions are simply perfect. Beautiful and powerful, just some really elegant curves like Ferrari used to have. The Huayra became one of my favorite hypercars.
    What always held me up was the details… the insectoid lights, the busy interiors, the Huayra’s catfish grille… but even most of those things grew on me. I respect the level of detail throughout these cars. Even in the Huayra’s busy and wild interior there is coolness to be found, even if I’d never call it beautiful.
    This thing’s interior is calmed down and truly beautiful to look at. The exterior still has wonderful proportions and shapes, and I like it from every angle except the front, which will grow on me. And it still has that incredible exhaust, engine bay, attention to detail, and curves that make Pagani amazing.

  12. I find the philosophy of Pagani interesting, but the best feature of the car is the simple stick shift and just an engine with no electrical drive. It’s fun to see an old school supercar. Thanks Mercedes!

    1. I think the “configurator” for something like this is a catered luncheon in a luxurious boardroom in a building that most of us doesn’t even know exists, where you meet with the engineers and designers one-on-one, and possibly even the dye-mixer for the leather, just so you can get exactly the shade you want.

      1. Yeah, everyone who buys a Pagani supposedly meets with Horacio himself to configure the car, but normal people don’t get to do that!

        Playing with those online configurators is fun! Besides, a website is cheaper to develop than a low-volume car with a manual transmission 😀

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