Mercedes-AMG Failed To Convince Pagani To Abandon The V12 For A V8

Pagani is not convinced EVs are the way forward, thanks to the weight battery technology comes with working against its lightweight philosophy.

The landscape of the automotive world is rapidly changing. Many manufacturers are starting to ditch their internal combustion engines for either smaller units, hybrids, or electric power. One that is bucking the trend is Pagani. The famous supercar and hypercars manufacturer is still keeping its big Mercedes-AMG V12s under the hood. This is despite the best efforts of Mercedes to the contrary to swap out the V12 engine.

Pagani is also one of the few automotive manufacturers resisting the switch to EV power. In their eyes, existing battery technology isn’t light enough to go inside a supercar or hypercar. While Pagani is working on an electric hypercar, it will only ever see the light of day if it can be made as lightweight as some of its previous models.

Pagani Resisted Mercedes’s Efforts To Swap The V12 For A Hybrid V8

Christopher Pagani, son of the company’s founder Horacio, spoke to Top Gear about the future of the manufacturer. He divulged that Mercedes tried to get Pagani to ditch V12 power for a V8. Pagani develops its own units for their performance cars, which Mercedes-AMG then goes on to build for the Italian company. But it was during the development of their brand-new Utopia that Mercedes-AMG suggested that a V8 hybrid goes under the hood of the new hypercar. This is instead of another iteration of the famous V12.

But in Pagani’s own words, “But we, let’s say ‘challenged them’ to keep the V12, and they accepted.” Thus, the new Utopia will be a V12, despite Mercedes best efforts to create the first hybrid Pagani. Part of this drive to keep the V12 because Pagani wants to keep the ICE powertrain for as long as possible. As a smaller manufacturer, the company can keep using V12s within its hypercars and supercars until at least 2035. So the hope is that they will continue to use V12 power in their products until then. But as Pagani himself said, they aren’t afraid to change the powertrain in the future.

Pagani’s Utopia Took Six Years For The Company To Develop

The Utopia carrying the latest AMG V12 under the hood is only the third model to come from Pagani since the Zonda C12. But, they have of course produced many iterations of those products over the years. The development program for Utopia started six years ago. With the focus of the new car set on simplicity and lightness, while retaining the ingredients seen in every Pagani since the first Zonda. This included things like the Mercedes-AMG V12 engine.

The V12 under the hood of the Utopia is a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12, the same used in the Huayra. But its undergone a few tweaks to produce 852 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque. 24 hp more than the most powerful road-going Huayra. Even 24 years after the Zonda, Pagani, and AMG are still able to squeeze more power out of the V12 powertrain. A lighter and upgraded seven-speed Xtrac automatic transmission comes with the V12. As does a new, seven-speed manual that Pagani has said is not a “virtual” manual, ala the Koenigsegg CC850.

Pagani Utopia Rear Quarter View Doors Openvia Pagani
The design for the Utopia blends in the best of the 1960s and 1960s. Plus there are some clear cues from the Zonda such as the rear end and the exhaust outlets. The front of the car has a hint of Zonda about it as well, and its blockier proportions are a change from the Huayra. Pagani was able to save weight on the hypercar, thanks to the machining of the bodywork from solid aluminum. Composite components were also optimized to help bring the weight down further. Resulting in a car that is 154 lbs lighter than the original Huayra, and the same 154 lbs heavier than the original Zonda.

Pagani Has Been Developing An Electric Hypercar For Six Years

While the Utopia is a V12-powered masterpiece, Christopher Pagani is not afraid to look toward the future of the automotive world. In the same Top Gear interview, Pagani said that the company is hard at work on an electric car. One it has been developing since 2018. Pagani said that “there is no need for us to stop that.” But what might stop them from putting the car into production is current battery technology. Pagani has admitted that the only way they will release an electric hypercar is if it conforms to their philosophy of being lightweight.

That is a struggle with current battery technology, with the packs being very heavy. We have seen many EVs weighing much more than their ICE-powered counterparts. Pagani has prided itself on lightweight cars since the first Zonda in 1999, and Pagani has said that with their cars “you have to have a special feeling driving it.” The weight of current electric technology is their first big question mark. The Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4 both weigh around 4,500 lbs on average. A huge increase in the 2,822 lbs of the Utopia. So it could be some time before we see the finished Pagani electric hypercar.

That doesn’t mean Pagani is afraid to move away from V12s, far from it. Pagani goes on to say “There are a lot of amazing things to innovate in an electric car – we’re not afraid of innovation.” An electric Pagani doesn’t mean the end of its Mercedes-AMG partnership either. The Italian manufacturer is already in constant meetings with Mercedes and AMG about the future direction of its cars. This includes utilizing Mercedes EV architecture such as its batteries and motors. With Mercedes-AMG being such a long-time partner for Pagani, the intention to keep working together is very much still there.

Pagani Is Not Afraid Of The Challenge Of Switching To Electric Power

Despite the challenges that a switch to an electric powertrain brings, Pagani isn’t fazed by this at all. Asked by Top Gear if it is the most difficult challenge Pagani has faced. He said “Actually, no. We as a family-owned brand are not under the pressure of jumping into something if we are not ready, or not 100 percent convinced.” That is an emphatic answer to that question. And it is clear Pagani will do their due diligence before committing to electric power, or even a hybrid hypercar.

The challenge of creating an electric hypercar appeals to the manufacturer. It allows them the chance to innovate and do something different from their rivals. Think of how Lamborghini added a supercapacitor to the Sian, rather than a conventional lithium-ion battery.

Stricter Emission Regulation May Force Pagani To Drop The V12 Soon

The one thing that could change Pagani’s plans is changes to emissions regulations. While they are currently allowed to use ICE power until 2035, any sudden rule change could bring that date forward. But there is scope to go beyond 2035 as well. With the usage of synthetic fuels allowing some form of combustion power to still exist. Pagani is doing the right thing for a smaller, family-owned brand. Taking its time, assessing its options, and waiting before it commits to a very different future.

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