Simply Abu Dhabi XX

2 4 6 S I M P LY A B U DH A B I To save about 70kg, Horacio decided to pass on the industry standard double clutch transmission and go with a single clutch Xtrac unit which gives a meaty smack to the back of the head on up changes and throws you forward with each down click. Apparently it’s also what his owners like. The giant waste gates in the turbochargers sound like multiple cat sneezes each time you jam the throttle and lift off suddenly as your right foot orchestrates a 12-cylinder, wind instrument behind your head. The brakes take some time to get used to, as the giant carbon ceramic discs need a lot of pressure and you have to push hard to get them to bite. They feel grainy through the ball of your foot, which was reassuring as I liked the connection. But for a moment, getting it to pull up seemed like a task too far and then without warning, they bite. The car stops on a needle and turns in bang on the apex. The AMG engine pumps out 750bhp, but maybe it’s because of its lithe 1350kg weight that it felt more like a 1000+ of the Veyron Supersport or LaFerrari. However, its power and traction out of tight bends seemed superior to either of those hypercars – which is amazing considering this doesn’t benefit from all-wheel drive like the Bugatti. The tight hairpin leading on to the back straight at Yas can snap the tail of just about any car, yet planting the right foot on the apex exit ensured the rear simply squatted as it put its power to the road and off it went. The active aero takes much of the credit for this, as it has two small rear wings that operate independently depending on pitch angle, brake position etc., as well as two front wings mounted ahead which do the same thing. Look over the snout as you jump on the brakes and two air brakes appear in front of you. Watching them flick from left to right as the car changes direction and throttle position is like watching a frill neck lizard preparing for attack. In every sense this car is alive with each corner, reacting in split seconds with every command of your feet, fingers and brain. It’s a car I connected with and felt that I was a part of its performance success instead of simply being the controller behind the wheel. When I pulled in to the garage, switched off the engine and gave the steering wheel a gentle pat on its Pagani badge in thanks, I handed the key back to the man who breathed life into this astounding creation and his smile, in reaction to my sweaty, adrenalin- pumped, exuberant face was the difference over a Ferrari or Lamborghini. This is his car and it carries his name and it was nothing short of an honour and a privilege. Thank you, Mr Pagani.