Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche: three companies that don’t need to convince you to buy one of its cars. Show up with one of them, in nearly any part of the world, and people recognize it and immediately know why you bought one. Frankly, that’s a bit boring, which is why today I thought we would take a look at some of the less established supercar contenders: the Koenigsegg Agera R and the Pagani Huayara.
These are outsiders. They aren’t built to sell key chains or develop new technologies to use in racing or production cars. They are designed to go fast and win hearts. Because of that, they aren’t just interesting alternatives to the big boys; they might just be the best supercars on the road.
The performance of the Huayra and the Agera R doesn’t just bend minds, it bends bones. These cars are capable of the sort of g-forces that normally are reserved for astronauts.
For starters, there is the power. Pagani uses a bespoke 6.0-liter Mercedes-AMG twin-turbo V12 that puts out 730 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque. Or roughly as much as the amazing Spiderman. Look it up.
But 737 hp is nothing when compared to the Agera R, though, which packs 1140 hp. Koenigsegg’s twin-turbo 5.0-liter V8 began life as a Ford racing engine, but on its way to becoming one of the most powerful engines in the world, it’s been almost entirely rebuilt. Nearly every part has been redesigned, presumably from Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. In fact, the sound this engine makes can perhaps best be likened to the god of Thunder making sweet love to a Ford GT40.
All this power makes for some mind-blowing acceleration. The Pagani Huayra can manage 0 to 60 mph 3.2 seconds and can hit 230 mph. These figures pale in comparison to the truly insane figures that the Agera R puts down. 60 mph arrives in just 2.8 seconds, and it can manage to get from 0 to 186 mph and back to 0 in just 21.6 seconds. Just think: that is a stoplight to getting your license revoked and back in a third of a minute.
As for the corners, both of these cars are stunning. The Huayra managed to best cars as impressive as the V8 Ariel Atom and the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to become the fastest car around the Top Gear test track.
The Huayra is incredibly precise and manageable for such a monster. You can take the Huayra into corners confident that, while it wants to kill you, it won’t actually try. This thanks to active aerodynamics. The Huarya has flaps, like you get on a plane. Except instead of keeping a plane aloft, these flaps are designed to keep you on the ground.
The experience of driving the Huayra can be likened to an exquisitely crafted clockwork tiger: precise, but terrifying.
Where the Huayra is precise, the Agera is extreme. No active flaps here, just a incredibly stiff carbon fiber monocoque and fiendishly designed Scandinavian suspension.
It’s not that the Agera isn’t sophisticated, but the experience of driving it is much more direct. Anyone can drive an Agera R, but this is a car that punishes bad driving. Make a mistake, and all 1140 horsepower are going to come back and bite you in the ass.
The Agera R is maybe the ultimate expression of performance driving. The noise, the heavy steering, and the insane acceleration make this car like absolutely nothing else. If I haven’t convinced you yet, look for some videos on YouTube, there you can behold an Agera R accelerating away from a Bugatti Veyron as if it were standing still.
The edge here goes to the Koenigsegg
If you are buying one of these cars you want it to stand out. You want people to notice it, and you, as you drive by. This showiness is part of what makes supercars so exciting; they should be fun for everybody.
The Koenigsegg is a gorgeous car. It looks sinister and aggressive. When you see this thing there is absolutely no mistaking that it is very, very fast. One of the things I love about this design is just how proportional it is. The wheels are enormous, but they fit perfectly with the silhouette.
Then you get the doors, which are probably the coolest ever fitted to a car. Designed by Koengisegg’s founder they are called dihedral synchro-helix actuation system. That name has to be worth at least several hundred thousand dollars of the purchase price alone. Seriously, though, these doors announce to the world that you mean business.
The interior looks like pretty much exactly what you would expect if you gave a Swede with advanced degrees in design and engineering, a lot of money, and told him to design a futuristic supercar interior. The interior very cool, but also restrained. The overall effect is a slightly odd combination of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a Victorian Library.
I like it, a lot. Unfortunately for the Agera, it really does fall down in comparison to the Huayra.
Pagani really became known for its amazing design, and the Huayra doesn’t disappoint. On the outside it is a bit more graceful than its predecessor the Zonda. But all of the Pagani touches are still there, like the awesome grouping of four exhaust pipes, and the tiny side mirrors.
When you drive by in a Huayra, even people who know absolutely nothing about cars will know they saw something special.
And that doesn’t even get to what, as far as I am concerned, is the best part of any Pagani: the interior. Pagani makes incredibly detailed finally crafted interiors that are really like nothing else. I didn’t know that steampunk futurism could be a car design style, but Pagani did – and thank God.
Seriously, I am not sure that I like Notre Dame more than I like the interior of the Pagani Huayra.
Besides, with the Pagani, you get all sorts of conspicuous consumption touches, like custom luggage designed to fit into the car’s compartments Tetris style.
Driving a Huayra might make you look like a playboy, but the luckiest playboy ever.
The edge goes to the Pagani – and it’s not close.
Buying one of these cars doesn’t just entail walking into a showroom somewhere and slapping down, well, a box truck full of cash. No, buying one of these cars is a personal affair. Because of that, it’s worth talking a bit about the people you are getting involved with.
Pagani, and its Argentine founder Horacio Pagani got into the supercar business in a pretty auspicious way: by building Lamborghinis. Horacio originally ran the composites section for Lambo, helping to develop not only the 25th anniversary Countach but also the Diablo, before going on to wow the world with its amazing Zonda.
Today Pagani remains a very small company, with just 55 employees. Despite this, it don’t just make cars, it also produces carbon fiber for Daimler, Ferrari, and even F1 teams. This is a company that has the technical know-how to produce Carbotanium, a composite so awesome that it makes me have inappropriate thoughts, while still having the flair to produce one of the single coolest interior designs of all time. Buying a car from Pagani is like dating a supermodel who is also a Nobel prize winning chemist.
If Pagani is a bit like a supermodel, Koenigsegg is like a bond villain. For starters, Koenigsegg’s founder, Christian von Koenigsegg, has a shaved head and the company’s headquarters is on an old military base. Presumably, Koenigsegg must make doomsday devices, they’re just assembled in a different part of the factory. Von Koenigsegg founded the company at age 20, and managed to produce a working prototype in just two years.
But despite that, the most impressive thing about Koenigsegg is that each car they build is essentially bespoke. When you order a car, you are involved in the process of setting it up and customizing it in exactly the way you want. Von Koenigsegg has said “People often ask, ‘How customized can I have my car?’ If you pay us enough, we’ll build you a helicopter.”
That, to me, says everything you need to know about why you want to buy a Koenigsegg. Your car will be yours alone. Hell, you can probably even get Koenigsegg to install some hood mounted machine guns … or some lasers to help you get that pesky Mr. Bond.
The comapny edge goes to Koenigsegg.
The Checkered Flag
If you buy either of these cars, you are awesome in my book. If it were my $1.5 million, I would have to get the Koenigsegg Agera R. To me, a supercar should ultimately be about the experience of going fast. On those terms, there is nothing else like the Agera R.
The Huayra is an amazing car, and it is incredibly fast. But it has the feel of being a work of art as much as something designed to blow you out of the stratosphere. As I said before; it’s a car for the discerning playboy. That isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not what I personally want.
The Koenigsegg, on the other hand, is built to go fast. Incredibly for a car that costs $1.6 million, it is almost unpretentious. Its goal is to provide the most extreme driving experience possible. In that sense, it is not just a great supercar; it is the paragon of supercars.
When I arrive backwards and on fire in Valhalla, I want to be in a Koenigsegg Agera R.