High-speed testing the 1,900PS Pininfarina Battista

02nd December 2020
Ethan Jupp

Storied a-name as it is, Automobili Pininfarina as a bonafide manufacturer is new to the game. The game of high performance EVs, is itself very new. How do you seamlessly meld such a recognisable and beloved name with the new and sometimes controversial (to enthusiasts) world of all-electric motoring? Happily, both are enticingly challenging for proven and in-demand talent. Paolo Dellachà is just such a talent, that first made a name for himself with the likes of Ferrari and Maserati

Paolo is Chief Product and Engineering Officer at Automobili Pininfarina. We caught up with him via Zoom – insert New Normal quip here – to reflect on the goals and challenges of the Battista project. This follows soon after the completion of its first high-speed and handling tests at the demanding Nardo Technical Centre in Italy, as development continues through the pandemic. Here are some things we’ve learned about the luxury EV hypercar that can out-accelerate an F1 car. 


The Battista is nearly finished

This all-new all-electric hyper GT is coming very close to production readiness, as the company looks to see the first cars in the hands of customers in 2021 Dellachà tells us the process of development of these kinds of cars has changed, to the point that up to 60 per cent of dynamics testing can be done digitally. This means a more streamlined and agile team can accomplish a lot more in a shorter space of time.

Physical testing serves to validate components in extreme conditions and verify that the real thing can live up to those finely-calculated tolerances and standards. It also means the team can finely-hone the car in terms of feel. The prototype as it sits, so Paolo tells us, is running over 90 per cent production-ready parts, with a 70-80 per cent power output. Even then he says, with a glance down to one side and a crack of a smile, the performance is “striking”. 

“It’s not the way it gets to 100, or 150. It’s how it pushes on from 150 with the same urgency. Having experienced many fast cars, it is still devastating.” All as you would expect, given that 70-80 per cent of the 1,900PS output Battistas will ship with is still over double that of the average ICE supercar. Once in full 1,900PS, 2,300Nm specification, it’s claimed it’ll crack 62mph in an Formula 1-baiting 1.9 seconds, 186mph in under 12 seconds and go on to 217mph.

According to Automobili Pininfarina Test Driver and Vehicle Dynamics Manager Georgios Syropoulos, “Our clients will never have experienced acceleration like this before”. Strong claims...


From Ferrari F430 to 1,900PS Pininfarina Battista

Here’s the rub, though. With EV powertrain technology that’s available today – in the case of Pininfarina, a collaborative effort with Rimac – extreme performance is not difficult. Beefed up motors and batteries in combination with a single-minded calibration can easily produce the Battista’s scarcely-believable figures. 

Then you have to ask how it feels. How does the Battista turn that volcanic tower of power into a driving experience that goes beyond the assault of its acceleration? The real challenge is to calibrate a competent, satisfying, engaging and well-rounded driver’s car, befitting that evocative badge and those classically pretty looks.

Happily, as above, Paolo is a man with past experience of turning cars that wore Pininfarina insignias into standard-setters in the supercar space. His experience in what he calls “torque vectoring logics” goes back to the 2004 Ferrari F430 and its then-revolutionary E-Diff. This is the man for the job of distributing near-on 2,000PS between four hungry electric motors, then. The scale of the task is not unknown to Paolo, in spite of his seniority on the subject: “We’re putting almost 500 horsepower to each wheel. That’s as much power to one wheel as some full-on supercars have in total,” he says through a smirk.

The Ferrari of course had a transmission and a differential, archaic limiting factors by comparison to what is on offer here today. Even so, Dellachà admits they were initially worried about torque steer, with so much instant punch – 675Nm to each wheel – a toe’s twitch away. The car surprised them, deploying its performance prodigiously.

“This is the perfect setup for power distribution,” he says. “The beauty of independent motors and control over them gives us access to full torque-vectoring, with no differentials, no transmission, no loss of efficiency and limitless calibration possibilities by comparison. The magic happens when you’re finalising the calibration of the torque vectoring. It is ideal by definition.”

The Battista will drive like a proper supercar…

As a result, Dellachà claims the Battista will be an authentic class-leading supercar to drive, in-spite of that monstrous power and enhanced by the e-powertrain.

“It’s not about seeking only the top performance,” he continues. “We’re working a lot on the balance of the car. You can imagine the longitudinal performance, with the e-powertrain. How you combine that level of speed with lateral dynamics is key.

“The instant performance means the lateral dynamics have to be next level, from the response of the steering, to the tyres, to make it usable and get it to that magic place where it’s enjoyable. The tyres are the only mechanical filter between the raw power and the road but even then we’re working with two brands for high-performance tyre options for Battista.”

The enemy of a performance car is weight which, unfortunately, is often significantly increased when using an electric powertrain. It’s claimed however that the Battista isn’t as far off conventional supercar weight standards as you’d think, in part achieved by incorporating the battery arrangement as a structural element. That heavy battery is low down, too, for a hunkered centre of gravity and an optimal feeling of inertia.


... because Pininfarina benchmarked it against the best supercars

He’s not shy about how to get the Battista where it needs to be, it’s been benchmarked against the best. “Always look at the progress of rivals,” he says. “Then when you know the full story, you can create your own story. You can’t be successful without this so we benchmarked the current hypercars and shall we say, sporty cars that are not quite hypercars.

“There were two or three we looked at quite extensively. The hypercar that is communicating the luxury GT feeling – we all agree Bugatti has that language. The McLaren Senna looks more at track use and for handling, we stay close to Italy with the Ferrari F8. The inspiration is how you’re refining the feel, reward and ease of the car. You then work on beating them.”


The Battista will still sound good, even though it’s an EV

The weight has been kept down, the dynamics finely-honed. What else do drivers look for in their performance cars? An evocative soundtrack? Ah. 

“For driving, sound is a key sensation and we know EVs are quiet by comparison. We needed a sound for driver engagement and secondly, obviously, it is a legal requirement” Dellachà says. 

“The whole team were in agreement from the beginning, though, we didn’t want to try to replicate an ‘engine’ sound for Battista. Instead, we are I would say expanding on the harmonics of the electric motors. They’re higher frequency with higher RPM but you can hear them. Believe me, you really can in the Battista. We are bringing up those frequencies and trying to use the sound, which will be internal and external. You get this sound and you get the roar of the tyres and the sound of the air travelling around the car. You hear the car on track and it’s like a jet.”

Yes, more powerful motors do make a noise and it is distinctive. So with that as a backbone they plan to add extra aural meat for more dense musical accompaniment. Different? Yes. We’re promised it’s a worthy take on the problem of voice-less electric cars.


It’ll be usable every day

Reigning in all that now-tuneful power are carbon-ceramic brakes developed especially in collaboration with Brembo. They work in tandem with a new-generation recuperation system that helps with the impressive claimed range of 310 miles (500km). Leading powertrain efficiencies are a win-win too, both contributing to that range figure and helping deliver a razor-sharp response. “We are green because we are electric but we are also green in our leading efficiencies,” he follows.

A Grand Tourer isn’t just a car that can go the distance, though. It needs to do so gracefully and with ease for the driver. Dellachà claims it can, with drivers able to ‘tailor’ the driving experience with the five driving modes. “We think you could possibly use it every day,” he follows. “Our driving modes are the essence of the car’s personality. With a 360-degree camera, nose-lift system, high charging speeds and long range, this should be an easy car to drive every day.”

As one of the lucky 150 owners you should be able to charge for free with ChargePoint as part of a new partnership. Each car will also be available with a ‘Pininfarina-designed wallbox’ in the same colour as your car. 


“The most connected hypercar”

“So important too is the interior,” Dellachà continues. “We’ve worked hard to make the cabin as high-quality an environment as possible, with beautiful materials and lots of technical features that are easy to use, with next-generation connectivity. This was a big request from our customers. We aim to connect with our customers and beyond even before they see the car in front of them.” 

That is an allusion we think to a special digital portal Pininfarina will be rolling out in the coming weeks, name to be decided, for a COVID-safe from-home digital Battista experience. The Battista itself, though, is described as “one of the most connected hypercars”. That means Tesla-esque over-the-air updates for continuous improvements over the life of the vehicle, troubleshooting, an app to configure the car and much more. This functionality is enabled by Pininfarina’s partnership with Deutsche Telecom.


It’s a child of the pandemic

Although the Battista has visually been with us since the times when Corona was just a beer, the pandemic actually hit before physical testing had begun. While there were supplier issues for the company, development has run more in parallel with the pandemic, rather than being stopped in its tracks. 

“We were able to work through COVID quite a lot,” Dellachà says. “Through the build of the prototype we were always able to solve the challenges coming day by day because of COVID. There’s not much that can stop us, now we’re testing, though we do want as soon as possible to bring customers and journalists like you in to physically see and drive the car. That’s a challenge that we’re working on but apart from that, we’re going full speed.”

We’ll take that as an invite, thank you very much...


A hyper GT almost ready for the Goodwood Hill

So if a McLaren Senna can be described as driving exactly how it looks, could the same be said of the Battista? “Yes, I would say so,” Dellachà affirms. “We’re aware that we are a design-driven company. This is no secret. The Battista is unique and beautiful but still unmistakably a hypercar, for the exterior as well as with the interior. It is passionate. This is Battista but this is also a statement about Automobili Pininfarina.” 

The car is beautiful, it’s a name we know and love, the technology is proven and it’s being developed by some of the biggest brains in performance car engineering. It sounds like it’ll welcome the challenges of the Riviera and the ‘Ring in equal measure. What’s more, we’re assured the car will be absolutely ready to take to the Hill, as soon as we’re ready to have it. 

Could the Battista take the NIO EP9’s road-going record at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard? We wouldn’t bet against it, before it wafts back to the Goodwood Hotel in all-electric grand touring serenity. Between this, the NIO and the Lotus Evija, the ICE supercar establishment should be in for a real shock.

  • Pininfarina

  • Battista

  • Nardo

  • EV

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