Pininfarina Battista: 1874bhp EV slips into London, avoids ULEZ charge

The Pininfarina Battista was one of the most interesting cars to come out of this year’s Geneva motor show – in both looks and web traffic – and now it’s back, in London. Pininfarina has brought its 1874bhp hypercar to the capital in order to highlight just how exempt it is from the new ULEZ urban tax. It’s a marketing ploy to get the car in the spotlight post-reveal, but when it looks like the above, who really cares?  

‘The Battista is a truly beautiful, guilt-free hypercar – the first EV to really fall in love with,’ said Michael Perschke, CEO of Automobili Pininfarina. ‘Because electricity enables us to develop it with zero emissions and as the most powerful car that will have ever been designed and built in Italy.’

Wait, what’s the ULEZ?

If you’re someone who regularly drives in London, it’s another thing you’re going to have to pay. The ULEZ or Ultra Low Emission Zone is London’s latest attempt to curb emissions in the capital, it’ll operate in addition to the Congestion Charge and it’s coming into force on 8 April 2019.

Because it’s primarily aimed at reducing emissions, it’ll only affect older, dirtier petrol and diesel vehicles – and EVs like the Battista are exempt. For a more thorough briefing on the ULEZ, and to see if your car is affected. Keep reading for more info on the Battista, which is probably what you came for.

Pininfarina Battista: everything you need to know

Powered by a Rimac-produced powertrain, the new Pininfarina Battista hyper EV produces 1874bhp, 1696lb ft of torque from four electric motors, and can launch from 0-62mph in under two seconds. 

If you can take it, the Battista will get you to 186mph from a standing start in under 12 seconds. Top speed is over 217mph. 

Who said electric cars were slow?

Pininfarina says the Battista can go for 280 miles between charges thanks to its 120KWh Li-ion battery pack. Yes, this is an all-electric car, remember. 

What’s the name about?

As for the name? The badge is significant: it’s named after Pininfarina founder, Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina – and it’s ‘the first model in Automobili Pininfarina’s portfolio of luxury electric vehicles.’

When the first hand-crafted Battista rolls out of the Pininfarina’s Cambiano-based factory in 2020, it’ll be the most powerful road-legal car ever designed and built in Italy. No more than 150 will be made, and we’re expecting a price at around €2 million.

‘Soprattuto deve essere bella’

But forget the numbers – take a look around the new Italian pin-up. Despite its futuristic gubbins – which we’ll explain in detail later – the Battista looks like a thoroughbred Italian supercar. If it wasn’t for the lack of exhausts and engine on display, you’d expect to hear the growl of a naturally-aspirated V8 on startup.

But where you’d usually find a viewing port for a fire-breathing powerplant, there’s simply a glowing Pininfarina badge. All this car’s power comes from its T-shaped Rimac powerplant, and there’s no cylinders or sparkplugs involved. 

It will have a distinct sound though. Pininfarina says the driver will be able to define their bespoke sound settings – though there won’t be any artificial sound amplification. Key factors in this signature sound will be the electric motors, air flow, HVAC system, and resonance of the carbon monocoque. 

Above all it must be beautiful

At the front, headlights – which look a little like those on the recently shown Ferrari F8 Tributo are linked by a striking light bar – though we’re not sure if that feature will make it to the UK. Either way, it’s a stunning signature feature, and gives the car a futuristic, yet still classic, look.

Walk around the Battista, and you’ll find those sweeping lines we’ve come to expect from the Italian design house, and the ‘floating’ active rear-wing at the of the car is almost like a visual full stop. It’s integrated at lower speeds, but can pop up to increase downforce at higher-speeds, and even act as an air brake. It’s all a bit sci-fi. 

All models will run on huge 21-inch rims smeared in Pirelli P-Zero rubber, and carbon-ceramic 6-piston brakes on the front and rear axles will get the Battista stopped. As this is still an EV, those brakes allow for energy recovery, eeking out and reclaiming as much energy as possible. 

Three flavours

The Battista is being shown in three specifications at this year’s Geneva motor show, to highlight just how much customisation the oligarchs that buy it can spec. The white car shown in the majority of our pictures is the Bianco Sestriere – the most elegant and understated take – while the Blu Iconica (below) comes with more aggressive details to underline the car’s futuristic styling. The Grigio Luserna spec represents something of a halfway-house, with a satin grey finish combining with blue accents. Our pick has to be the former. 

And the interior?

We’ve only got one picture of the car’s interior so far, but it shows a driver-focused cabin with dual-screens either side of the steering wheel. To avoid being saddled with infotainment and connectivity that quickly dates – an issue that super- and hypercars too often suffer – Automobili Pininfarina looked at suppliers who can provide future-proof software and also wanted to make sure the passenger has a good time as well.

‘In terms of user experience we’ll have mirroring technology, screens and all these kind of things,’ said newly-installed Italian design director Luca Borgogno, ‘but it’s about how you live with this car. We have some nice ideas on how we’ll be able to do that and have a different experience inside, beyond what you have in a normal hypercar.

We don’t want a cabin that is too tight and we want the passenger space to receive the right attention too.’ To that end, Pininfarina told us last year that the Battista will have serious ‘Internet of Things’ capability and Level 3 or higher autonomous driving ability.   

Powered by Rimac

The hypercar’s 4WD underpinnings feature a Rimac-made T-shaped battery pack crammed between and behind the driver and passenger seats rather than below the floor. That way, the roof stays low and the major weight between the wheelbase for better handling. Originally, Pininfarina wasn’t keen to confirm the use of the Croatian start-up’s internals – but now the fact is featured in the Battista’s press release.

Drivability

Pininfarina is keen to emphasise just how driveable this car should be despite its insane performance figures. As well as dialling down some of the reaction times of the EV’s powerplant, so it’s easier and more predictable to drive at lower speeds,  the Italian marque also enlisted the help of the Mahindra racing Formula E team. That meant Nick Heidfeld helped make the Battista a little more manageable for its eventual owners. 

With that in mind, the car will feature five drive-modes, and will also intelligently use its four electric motors for torque-vectoring; helping the driver get the most of the Rimac powertrain.

Pininfarina Battista at Geneva 2019

And what about those luxe SUV rumours to follow?

They’re true. After the Battista hypercar in 2020 which will be sold as a limited edition of fewer than 100 to keep up exclusivity – although the “Euro Millions” price tag should see to that – a range of Automobili Pininfarina-badged cars will follow. The first could well be a Lamborghini Urus fighter with smaller luxury SUV versions to follow.

Handily, 42-year old design director Luca Borgogno, also worked on the latter production model during a brief stint at Lamborghini between 2015-16, despite being a Pininfarina man for most of his career. We put it to him that Automobili Pininfarina’s luxe SUV ought to look a good deal different from the far-from-perfect Urus? ‘No car is perfect, I totally agree,’ he responded quickly and with a smile. ‘We want ours to be elegant, clean and pure, this is our basic idea of design.’ Phew!

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