Pininfarina Battista Electric Super Car Is the Screaming-Fast Future

·9 min read
Photo credit: James Lipman
Photo credit: James Lipman
  • After 90 years of designing other makers' cars, including 67 years of Ferraris, Pininfarina finally launches its own: the 1874-hp Battista hypercar.

  • The Battista is a screamer, or it will make you scream, with a 0-60 time of under 2 seconds.

  • Price is over $2 million and they're only making 150 of them.

Before you drive the Pininfarina Battista electric hypercar, do this: Remove that old, outdated brain currently stuffed into your cranium and replace it with an all-new “high-G brain” from wherever better brains are sold. Get one that can absorb and even enjoy 0-60 launches that take less than two seconds. (Less than two seconds!) Maybe John Force or Big Daddy Don Garlits wouldn’t freak out at that rate of acceleration, but I guarantee you and I will. Your old, previous brain doesn’t know what to do with that kind of a launch. It doesn’t boggle the mind—it bamboozles it. Take your new brain, which is now capable of ridiculously high g-forces both lateral and longitudinal, strap it into the driver’s seat of the Pininfarina Battista and stomp on that accelerator pedal.

That screaming you hear is not gear whine.

At first, maybe in the initial 60 feet of launch, your head says, “Yes, this is acceleration, I am familiar with this.” Then, after that phase, when the Battista continues to rocket down the road at rates unprecedented, your brain starts to panic. It demands that you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal because, “This ain’t acceleration, man—this is alien space propulsion from another world!”

It’s not from another world—it’s from Italy.

Photo credit: Pininfarina
Photo credit: Pininfarina

Now, before you start typing in the comments section that “… it’s not Italy, it’s really Serbia where this thing car comes from—it’s just a Rimac, man!” consider this: The Pininfarina Battista was designed concurrently with the Rimac Nevera. Right from the very beginning, they say. We asked what parts are Rimac and what parts are Pininfarina and we got this official reply:

“The Battista’s rolling chassis, comprising electric powertrain, T-shaped battery, carbon-fiber monocoque, and all electrical systems,” is what Pininfarina said Rimac provides. From there, Pininfarina assembles the rest of the Battista in its Cambiano, Italy, facility just outside of Turin. One Pininfarina employee said the car was "engineered hand-in-hand with Rimac and designed at a different level of beauty."

So sure, there are differences but if you’re going to share something isn’t it cool to share something this fast? Consider that the Pininfarina’s four AC permanent-magnet electric motors–one powering each wheel–make a combined total of 1874 hp and 1727 lb-ft of torque. Horsepower is now measured in the thousands, not the hundreds. In addition to zero to 60 officially taking less than two seconds, chief engineer Paolo Dellacha says zero to 186 mph takes less than 12 seconds. With a 217-mph top speed, active aerodynamics are necessary to help keep it on the ground.

This is truly a new world order.

In one of the more amazing days of my professional car life, they actually let me drive one of these things. Mine was green, which wouldn’t be my choice of color, but choosing colors, interior trim, and matching luggage is something each buyer will be able to do. You can even take a trip to Cambiano to do it, and that includes lunch with the affable head of design, Dave Amantea. He will help guide you to a look that is both tasteful and uniquely yours.

“Every Battista is bespoke,” Amentea said. “There will never be one Battista identical to another one.”

Photo credit: Pininfarina
Photo credit: Pininfarina

My drive of this green hypercar would be in the winding, twisting hills of the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu. I would have chief engineer Dellacha with me the whole time. A car with this much thrust requires adult supervision.

Dellacha started by showing me around the interior. Three screens greet the driver; on the right is all the infotainment—music, radio, phone—and the climate controls. On the left is where you set everything from steering wheel position to seat adjustment, as well as mirrors and a few other adjustments. In the center is a small screen with your speed shown digitally.

Also on the left is a big round knob that lets you choose driving modes: Calma, Puro, Energica, and Furiosa. Carattere is kind of like Individual. In addition to setting parameters for the shocks, each mode sets how much of the car’s horsepower is available to you. In Calma you get 21% of total power—300 kW or 402 hp. Imagine 402 hp in the wimpiest mode! You could drive around in Calma all day and still thrill yourself. Pura mode gives you 53%—745 kW or just under 1000 hp; Energica 71%—1000 kW or 1341 hp; and Furiosa gives you the whole 1400-kW, 1874-hp enchilada.

Photo credit: Pininfarina
Photo credit: Pininfarina

It took a minute to get it started until someone figured out that the cover for the luggage compartment was not fully closed. Yes, there’s a luggage compartment, but it is very small. Order the custom luggage to go with your Battista so you can actually go somewhere for a weekend.

Using that left screen I adjusted the seat to fit my too-tall-torso. Inside, the Battista is roomier than a Lamborghini—another carbon-fiber monocoque—but I’d still have liked a little more recline. Nonetheless, headroom was sufficient for my 6-foot-1 body.

Once we got the car switched on, we were off. Like many electric cars, the Battista makes its own noise, more of it as you go up in drive modes, from the minimum noise required by law in Calma up to a 54 herz moaning from Hades in Furiosa. The Rimac doesn’t have artificial sounds.

At first our drive was accomplished with an escort. We followed behind a Maserati Levante driven by Pininfarina’s chief test driver Georgios Syropoulos. He went slowly. This was also understandable considering I was the first one to drive this thing and they only had one of them, as far as I knew.

In that slow, plodding, reasonable-speed setting the Battista was fine. It was comfortable and not too loud. You could drive it every day, as they say. I didn’t notice any of the creaking that sometimes comes with higher-performance carbon-fiber cars. You could see out the front half well, but the back half was mostly blind, aided by the electronic rearview mirror.

We pulled up in front of Malibu Kitchen just off of PCH, a place probably used to supercars, and yet everyone stood up and noticed the Battista. “What is that thing,” yelled a crusty old salt who had probably known Mickey Dora back in the day. “A Pininfarina Battista,” we said. Others took photos. This is what it’s like to be famous, if even it’s just the car.

Photo credit: Pininfarina
Photo credit: Pininfarina

“Is there anything you would like,” asked the very polite German lady who had been put in charge of my driving happiness. “I would like some curves, you know, and a little velocidad,” I said.

There was a consultation with several Italians who were following along in the car’s entourage, then the test driver dude was brought over, followed by more consultation, and before you knew it I was flying over pretty much whatever road I felt like flying over (responsibly, of course).

Here is where I tried out a few applications of accelerator, when the space was clear. And that was when I experienced all the thrill, excitement, internal begging, and pleading you read about up above. You really can’t grasp what this kind of acceleration is like no matter how fast you think you’ve gone in an internal-combustion-engined car before. It’s otherworldly.

In curves and around corners the car was likewise very quick, if lacking the same characteristics we may all be used to in an ICE car with traditional passive shocks and springs. In the Battista, there is so little roll and so little feedback through the steering wheel that you sort of assume the car is not as fun to drive through a curve as it is to launch in a straight line. Maybe it just takes reorganizing your brain to this new kind of car.

Photo credit: Pininfarina
Photo credit: Pininfarina

As you go around a corner, for instance, the outside motors are spinning a little faster than the insides, the better to propel it through curves. But it’s doing that for you automatically. Electronics is the answer to handling on this car. Likewise, the amount of regen from the brakes is adjustable, with one-pedal driving possible, Dellacha said. Nonetheless the Battista comes with Brembo CCMR carbon-ceramic brakes. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s (265/35ZR20s front, 325/30ZR21 rear) are likewise impossible to fault. They will stick forever, as far as I could tell. Do I want more feel through the wheel and through the seat of the pantalones, or do I just have to adjust to the new world order?

“Four independent high-performance electric motors—one driving each wheel—combine with full torque vectoring, electronic stability control and a software differential that allows drivers to tailor the power delivery and handling responses like never before,” Pininfarina says.

My short drive months earlier in a Rimac Nevera was similarly inconclusive. Both cars are otherworldly in a straight line but lack the grip, feel, and feedback you immediately enjoy in a Ferrari SF90 or a McLaren anything. Maybe it just takes time to adjust.

But you don’t have a lot of time. Pininfarina will make just 150 of these for the global market. Price in the US is $2.03 million as of the last Euro-to-dollar conversion. You can say you’re being environmentally responsible with this, too, since the car’s 120-kWh battery will get it 300 miles of EPA combined range, according to Pininfarina.

Competitors? The only competitor after the Rimac—and maybe the Tesla Model S Plaid—is your own sense of familiarity with supercars past. Pininfarina is going to make only electric cars from now on. Electric hypercars like this are surely going to be the future—coming at you very fast.