Horacio Pagani is is now in his third decade of creating exquisite supercars. He is also on the brink of launching, as French autojournalist Robert Puyal so aptly describes it, “his third creation.”

The first two — the Zonda (codenamed “C8”) and Huayra (“C9″) fairly revolutionized the supercar world. Before Zonda, so called “hypercars” — the super-est of supercars — were recalcitrant beasts, all power and gummy tires, brute force and stiff suspension. Worse yet, at least if you are Horacio Pagani, they were artless, their appointments lacking, the detailing haphazard, and the interiors often as Spartan as a Hyundai. Speed they had; craft they did not.

That all changed in 1999 with the Zonda’s arrival. Along with the power expected of a V12 Mercedes came the world’s first clear-coated carbon-fibre body (a car, by the way, that Horacio still owns). Dual-wishbone suspension was matched by an interior that made Rolls-Royce cabins look second-rate. Pagani’s leather came from the most pampered of cows. Anything inside the cabin that wasn’t either hand-pounded or -polished was individually machined by the finest CNC machines in the biz.

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

Twelve years later and the Huayra took its place. In lieu of the naturally-aspirated Mercedes V12, Pagani fitted an even crazier Mercedes V12, this one twice-turbocharged. A seven-speed sequential transmission raised the performance bar even more. Ditto the oh-so-trick active aero aids, which, like some F-18 coming in for a landing on an aircraft carrier, featured actual “air brakes” flipping out of the front bonnet every time you jabbed the pedal at high speed.

But, like the Zonda, it was the interior that set the Huayra apart. The gearshift linkage made the most delicate of Swiss watches seem like a Rube Goldberg contraption, the surround for the infotainment system — yes, even supercars need them! — was completely milled for a custom finish, and every emblem in the car was machined from a solid block of aluminum. Absolutely incredible! Unless you have actually been sat in a Pagani, you really have not experienced automotive art at its most exquisite. They truly are worthy of the Guggenheim.

So, what will the new Utopia — codenamed, you guessed it, C10 — bring to the table?

Well, like the best of supercars, the Utopia will be faster than ever. Despite rumours that the C10 platform might go electric, the Utopia remains resolutely fossil-fueled, its engine the same basic twin-turbo V12 as the Huayra. Mercedes-AMG, however, has somehow tweaked the big 6.0-litre for even more performance, this latest version boasting an incredible 852 horsepower, which has to motivate only 1,280 kilograms.

Do the math and that puts the Utopia’s power-to-weight ratio somewhere between the outrageous Huayra BC and the truly mental, track-only Huayra R. Throw in a driveshaft-twisting 811 pound-feet of torque and the rear Pirelli PZero Corsas, despite being 325 millinetres wide, truly have their work cut out for them.

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

Transferring all that power is XTrac’s seven-speed sequential gearbox, now fortified with a triple-plate clutch because, well, 811 pound-feet of torque. The bigger news is that the six-speed manual returns. It seems that, as modern as its swoopy shape and turbocharged motor may be, the lure of the classic six-speed is still strong among the Pagani faithful.

Housing all of this is yet another progression of Pagani’s carbon-fibre tub, this one incorporating some of the lessons — higher sills, for instance — learned from the Huayra R, as well as a full complement of Horacio’s latest carbon fibre — Carbo-Titanium HP62 and Carbo-Triax HP62. The suspension is based on the same Huayra R — it basically served as a rolling test-bed for Utopia’s chassis development — and, as I personally attested in my review of the track-only racer, all those double-wishbones are a marked improvement over the outgoing Huayra.

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

In a move Pagani is calling “the performance of elegance,” however, the most marked departure for the Utopia is its shunning of the now-de rigueur aerodynamic appendages. The company says that, thanks to refined front splitters and rear extractors, as well as an active rear aero and electronically controlled suspension — which can lower the Utopia for ground-effect “suction” — this Pagani is slipperier than ever, while simultaneously increasing downforce.

The result is a shape that melds modernity and tradition at once in a stunningly gorgeous package. Unlike so many modern supercars, it’s mostly “clean” of scoops, ducts, and spoilers, the silhouette the most organic of all Paganis so far. Puyal describes the Utopia as “radiating simplicity.” That’s as elegant a description as any.

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

first look: 2023 pagani utopia

2023 Pagani Utopia Photo by Pagani

But the interior, well, that’s as avant-garde as ever, isn’t it!? The Utopia’s steering wheel, for instance, is machined from a solid block of aluminum, the spokes, the hollow rim, and the steering column boss, all one seamless chink of outrageously gorgeous metal. Ditto the brake pedals, each crafted from another single heap of the lighter-than-steel metal. The gauges — more machined and milled aluminum — remain analog, the entire cabin, in fact, screaming of ’50s and ’60s aesthetics.

The pride of place remains the exposed gearshift mechanism. Now that there’s a six-speed manual in the mix, said intricacy is taken to a new level. Truly, I’m at a loss for words to describe its mechanical beauty. How does one describe something that has improved on perfection? What metaphor is better than the Guggenheim? The problem with Paganis is that once you’ve described some component as the end-all-and-be-all, how does one up the ante?

The Pagani Utopia will cost 2,170,000 euros, which, at present exchange rates, works out to something like CDN$2.85 million. Deliveries of the seven-speed sequential gearbox version will start in the second quarter of 2023. If you want the six-speed manual tranny — and I’m guessing it will be a popular option — you’ll have to wait a further six months or so.

Keyword: First Look: 2023 Pagani Utopia

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