The Rivian R3's Retro Hatch Was Inspired by Group B Rally Legends

The Rivian R3's Retro Hatch Was Inspired by Group B Rally Legends photo
The Rivian R3's Retro Hatch Was Inspired by Group B Rally Legends photo

The golden age of rally racing is largely centered on Group B cars like the Lancia Delta S4, Citroën BX 4TC, and Nissan 240RS. These wild, powerful, outrageously entertaining vehicles lived a hard and fast life and will be forever etched in enthusiast history.

When Rivian revealed its surprise R3 crossover this week, its sloped tail end looked nothing like its R1T, R1S, or even the upcoming R2 siblings. While speaking with Rivian’s chief design officer Jeff Hammoud, however, The Drive found out that it was partially inspired by these Group B legends.

“Our initial sort of ethos or inspiration for R3 was how can we take something that builds off the Rivian brand, is still capable offroad, but is really about the joy of driving,” Hammoud told The Drive. “All that inspiration [was focused on] the soul of rally cars. If you look at some of the old cars like the Lancia Delta Integrale or Audi Quattro, those were the types of things we looked at and how could we do something that's in the Rivian brand and feels like us, but evokes that feeling.”

Don’t call it a hot hatch, SUV, or crossover, CEO RJ Scaringe said during the reveal; he wants it to have its own category. In actuality, it’s a blend of all of those and it’s none of them at the same time. It does have some advantages over some of its competitors in the EV space, a robust driver information display being the primary benefit over the Volvo EX30, for example. Plus, the R3 will be built right here in the good old United States.


Rivian’s upcoming R3 and R3X will include single-motor (RWD), dual-motor (AWD), and tri-motor (two in rear, one in front) configurations, a new battery allegedly good for 300 miles of range, and a unique hatch-style design that is a big departure for the brand. On the R1T and R1S, a flat tail end that evokes a Land Rover Discovery has been a hallmark of the brand’s design. But what's going on with the new models? Hammoud clued us in.

“For one, we wanted to stretch the definition of what a Rivian brand is, and at that proportion, if you do something with a really squared-up back, it's going to look a little odd,” he said. “The other thing that makes [the design phase] a lot more challenging is even though we have very aggressive, aerodynamic requirements for the R2—and even more so for the R3 because it's smaller—it means you have to have a smaller battery in order to get the range.”

<em>Kristin Shaw</em>
Kristin Shaw

The other factor for the R3’s shape is related to the vehicle’s aerodynamics. Built on an all-new midsize platform, the R2 and R3 are more compact than the R1S and R1T, and the R3’s hatch-style design improves the overall coefficient of drag. Hammoud says he wanted the R3 to still look “tough” and “capable” but still hit its aerodynamics metrics to reach the target range. Plus, if Rivian had stayed with the squared back end from its R1 series, the R3 might have ended up looking like a Kia Soul instead.

This new crossover is the coolest hot hatch on the block, and at an anticipated—and alleged—sub-$45,000 price range (Rivian says the R2 will start at $45,000 and the R3 “will be priced below R2”) it’s immensely more accessible than the $70,000-plus R1T and R1S. Rivian’s larger vehicles are intended for fans of overlanding and off-roading, and the R2 and R3 don’t include the air suspension associated with the pickup and large SUV. However, CEO RJ Scaringe says Rivian will be unveiling a new line of accessories for both new vehicles including rooftop tents and bike racks.

Two battery sizes will be available for the R2 and R3; Rivian didn’t spill the details on the smaller pack, but it says the larger pack is good for more than 300 miles of range on a full charge and can zoom from zero to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. This could very well launch the next generation of electric rally cars, and with Rivian’s reputation for solid interiors and quick tech rollouts, the R3 will surely come with its own unique set of improvements over those of the past.

Rivian hasn’t released any information on horsepower or 0-60 times for the R3 yet, but I’m itching to get my hands on an R3X and whip it around in the dirt to live out my Group B dreams.

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