Pininfarina’s first automobile is an 1874 horsepower hypercar with the soul of a Rimac.
Pininfarina Battista vibrates. Not in the sense that “crystals have energy,” but in the sense that the carbon-fiber bodywork physically vibrates. Why is this electric vehicle trembling? Pininfarina used an E-Heart, which utilises two speakers to deliver audible pulses into the automobile, to infuse the vibrations into the Battista. The quivers are accompanied by flickering LEDs in the Pininfarina emblem at the tail. “The sound provides a direct link with what the automobile is doing,” says Paolo Dellacha, chief product and engineering officer—apparently even when it’s just sitting still and looking lovely.
Pininfarina has designed 64 Ferraris in its 91-year existence, so it knows a thing or two about beauty. The Battista is the company’s first completely new car, a production version of a concept that initially debuted in 2018. The Battista, named after the company’s founder, Battista “Pinin” Farina, was brought to life due to Pininfarina’s owners, the Indian corporation Mahindra, with its extravagant curves and 1874 horsepower.
Even for a major automotive business, creating a vehicle from the ground up is difficult, so Pininfarina smartly partnered with Rimac on the motor and carbon-fiber construction. Per Svantesson, CEO of Automobili Pininfarina, argues that the underpinnings aren’t identical to those used by Rimac, and that the Battista has its own tune and delivers a distinct driving experience.
The mechanical drive is ferocious: A T-shaped battery pack with 6960 lithium-ion cells and a total gross capacity of 120 kWh accounts for a third of the vehicle’s stated 4400-pound curb weight. Although Battista consumers are likely to be more compelled by the performance, the company expects its range on the European cycle will be 310 miles—using the EPA methodology will likely produce a U.S. range of around 230 miles—the brand thinks its range on the European cycle will be 310 miles. According to Pininfarina, reaching 60 mph takes only 1.8 seconds, and reaching 186 mph takes less than 12 seconds. The peak acceleration is 1.4 g, which forces you into the seatback. The top speed is limited to 217 mph by an electronic limiter. When it comes to speed, the business says that a 180-kW DC connection can get you from 20% to 80% charge in 25 minutes, which is less than half the pace of the newest Electrify America fast-chargers.
Lifting the dihedral doors reveals a cabin with three displays around the driver: For speed, two tablet-style touchscreens flank a central cellphone-style display. To modify seating and steering-wheel settings, the automobile needs the driver to access a menu on the left touchscreen. Once they’re in place, the view over the low-sloping hood gives great visibility, but the high rear haunches and active rear spoiler compel you to rely on your mirrors and the view out the back window. A machined and anodized aluminium rotary dial that seems like it might have been ripped from the Millennium Falcon cockpit is used to choose five driving modes; the sensation it provides is oh-so-reassuringly heavy, accurate, and clicky.
In the mildest Calma setting, cruising Palm Desert’s residential streets seems more Fiat 500e than supercar. If you want to stop for gawkers and explain that the Battista’s soft leather surfaces are tanned with olive leaves and that its carpets are made from recycled fishing nets, you’re still a fashionable eco-warrior on four wheels. If virtue signalling isn’t your thing, the wedgy beast can be made to go as fast as it appears with sprightlier driving settings. Pininfarina ensured that we had a safe public-road experience by having us follow a pace vehicle. As a result, despite the efforts of leadfooted chassis and vehicle-dynamics specialist Georgios Syropoulos, who set the pace in a Tesla Model 3, the Battista’s unearthly performance was restricted to very mortal limits. Syropoulos has worked on the chassis of many hot-rod Teslas, including the Vehicle 3, the Model S P85D, and a would-be M3-slaying Tesla “supersport” model that never materialised. He also worked with Lotus as an engineering consultant for the Evora GT4 race programme for several years, which might explain his ability to make a clean arc around the cambered bends of Highway 74. The Battista looks unconcerned about bends even at this high speed, due to its wide track, low centre of gravity, and staggered Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R rubber. The stiffness of adaptive KW dampers is automatically adjusted. The Battista manages to feel smooth and controlled even in its most aggressive setting, with steering and feel that lean more toward GT than caffeinated supercar.
The Battista’s real self is exposed only during hot laps at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. The Pininfarina is able to reveal itself without being hindered by having to follow anyone. Even two-thirds of the accelerator’s travel clamps your spine to your seat in a wave of acceleration in the harshest Furiosa mode, as the sticky Michelins battle hopelessly to adhere to the pavement.
The right pedal’s quick reaction, as well as the instant push it produces, are both addicting. There’s no waiting for the turbos to spool up, no delay for the gearbox to kick down; just raw, punishing thrust that propels the Battista so far down the track that you’ll be thinking about braking sooner rather than later for your own safety. The carbon-ceramic brakes do an excellent job of scrubbing speed, though our tester’s pedal travel was a little lengthy, and strong pedal strokes vibrated the car. The stability-control system is disabled in Furiosa mode, and Pininfarina is still fine-tuning the torque-vectoring system, but the chassis remains balanced and planted, albeit somewhat skewed toward understeer. Unlike the Rimac Nevera, which the Battista is closely linked to, Dellacha claims that the tune is centred on balanced handling and lateral dynamics rather than tire-melting tail-out drama. This explains why there isn’t a drift mode.
Final tuning will be completed before the Battista meets its first clients later this year, with deliveries beginning in the first quarter of 2022 at a cost of little over $2 million in the United States. While an electric vehicle can never have the passion and drama of a Ferrari V-12, the thrumming bodywork and ludicrous acceleration show that Pininfarina aims to give its electric vehicles life.