The shocking future of the hypercar
It has 1,874 horsepower and 1,696 lb-ft of torque. It’ll hit 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, 100 mph (160 km/h) in 4.3 seconds, and 186 mph (300 km/h) in 11.8 seconds. Quarter mile? Gone in 9.1 seconds. Top speed? An autobahn-busting 218 mph (350 km/h). And there’s not a single turbocharger or camshaft or piston to be found. Welcome to the shocking future of the hypercar. Welcome to the Pininfarina Battista, one of the star cars of this year’s Geneva auto show.
The name is steeped in history. Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina founded his eponymous coachbuilding company in Turin, Italy, in 1930. The 1947 Cisitalia 202 coupe he designed was the first car to become part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection in New York. Pininfarina has also designed and built cars for Ferrari, as well as Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, and Cadillac (remember the Allante?), among others. But the Battista is a digital-age, crowd source–era hypercar, combining traditional notions of Italian design and craftsmanship with financial and technological resources that simply weren’t available 10 years ago.
Pininfarina SpA, which will build the Battista in Italy, is today majority owned by Indian automaker Mahindra, best known in the North America for its range of tractors and the Roxor off-roader, an ancient CJ Jeep clone it has built for decades. Automobili Pininfarina, which developed with the Battista concept and will sell the car, is 100 percent owned by Mahindra and staffed by highly experienced executives and engineers who have variously worked for Porsche and Pagani, Lamborghini and Bugatti, as well as Alfa Romeo and Audi.
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The Battista’s potent e-powertrain is from Croatia’s Rimac Automobili, whose electric-powered Concept_One and C_Two hypercars are quick enough to frighten a Bugatti Chiron. Rimac pricked the pop-culture zeitgeist in 2017 when former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond threw a Concept_One off the road while filming an episode of The Grand Tour. But performance-focused Rimac has also attracted attention from respected auto industry heavyweights: Porsche quietly took a 10 percent stake in the company last year. Rimac is also supplying high-performance hybrid battery systems for the forthcoming Aston Martin Valkyrie, and Koenigsegg’s Regera.
Designed by Pininfarina SpA, the Battista at first glance looks vaguely like a reworked Ferrari 488. The Ferrari vibe is perhaps understandable, given the company’s long association with Maranello, even though the brief for the Battista came from Automobili Pininfarina design director Luca Borgogno, who worked at Lamborghini’s studio in Turin, most recently on the Urus SUV. Automobili Pininfarina insiders insist, however, the carbon -iber monocoque and body panels are all new and unique, a fact substantiated by doors that are cut into and are hinged at the roof, and swing forward and upward like those of a McLaren 720S.
The Battista’s proportion and stance are generic mid-engine supercar—the lack of exhaust pipes is the only clue to the e-powertrain underneath—which some may see as a missed opportunity. But as with a tuxedo, there are only so many ways you can tweak and tease a classic formula before it starts to look odd. The Battista is a conventional beauty, its form defined by a handful of artfully rendered lines. The most important of these run back from the front fender and tuck in toward the center of the car as they rise over the rear wheels, where they define the inner edge of surfaces that appear to float over the rear of the car. Critically, the lines—and the surfaces—don’t quite meet, making the Battista look as if it has a split rear wing.
“I love the wing,” says design director Borgogno. “It looks like two separate fins. On other supercars the rear wing leaves an ugly, dead hollow space when it’s raised, but on the Battista the wing is so thin it leaves just a shallow indentation, the floor of which we have perforated so that you can see into the rear airflow section.”
The lines also define air channels that run along each side of the glasshouse, similar to those of the McLaren 720S. The Battista may not need to gulp oxygen to make all that power and torque, but there are five radiators located around the car to help manage the temperatures of the T-shaped, 120-kW-hr, lithium–manganese–nickel battery pack, and the four liquid-cooled Rimac synchronous permanent magnet e-motors.
Pininfarina claims a range of up to 280 miles (450 km) between charges, though as in an internal combustion engine vehicle, your mileage may vary. Rimac says the battery pack has the juice and the thermal stability to propel its C_Two concept for two full-power laps of the 12.9-mile (20.8-km) Nürburgring Nordschleife with negligible performance loss. The Battista should have similar capability.
And they should be mighty quick laps. Carbon-fiber construction should keep the Battista’s overall weight around 4,500 pounds (2,041 kg) despite the heavy battery pack. Carbon-ceramic brakes are standard, with 15.4-inch rotors up front and 15.0 at the rear, each clamped by six-piston monobloc calipers. And with an e-motor powering each wheel (two motors share a common casing in the center of the car at each axle), the Battista will have infinitely variable torque vectoring capability at each corner of the car.
Helping hone the Battista’s dynamics is former F1 and Le Mans 24 racer Nick Heidfeld, whose other day job is development driver for the Mahindra Formula E team. Working with Heidfeld is Peter Tutzer, who began his career at Porsche, where he was ultimately appointed chief engineer for the company’s race car program; he then worked at Pagani on the Zonda before joining Bugatti, where he played an integral role in the engineering and development of the Veyron. No shortage of credibility there.
The Battista’s interior is at once high tech and luxurious, with state-of-the-moment infotainment interfaces and a wide range of available trim colors. Two screens are located either side of the steering wheel, the left controlling dynamics and performance, the right media and navigation. All vital information is displayed immediately in front of the driver on a small, centrally mounted screen. A rotary controller mounted on the door enables drive mode settings; on the right is the transmission control. Drivers will also be able to set bespoke sound settings, ranging from silence to what Automobili Pininfarina intriguingly calls “a signature Battista sound.”
Automobili Pininfarina plans to make just 150 Battistas, with a third of them coming to the U.S. The first cars are scheduled to arrive in 2020, in time to celebrate Pininfarina’s 90th anniversary.