Last Thursday on roads north of Malibu, I had 90 minutes behind the wheel of the first production Pininfarina Battista, with chief engineer Paolo Dellacha riding shotgun.
With 1726 lb. ft. of instant torque generated by four inboard-mounted electric motors, a “super-brain” carefully metering and adjusting power sent to each individual wheel at any given moment to maximize speed and agility, Battista proves beyond doubt that in its post-Ferrari era, Pininfarina has its mojo back.
With the launch of Battista, Pininfarina fulfills the family’s nearly century-old dream of not just being carrozzeria for other carmakers, but of manufacturing their own brand of automobiles.
At the close of my drive, I executed two acceleration runs in the most aggressive calibration, “Furioso,” in which Battista can hit 60 mph in under 2 seconds, shaving a half-second off the sprint time of Bugatti Chiron, the quickest internal combustion series-production hypercar.
Keep the hammer down and Battista covers the quarter mile in under 9 seconds. Stay on it at the quarter-mile post and another 3.5 seconds carries Battista to just shy of 190 mph. Top speed of 217 fits the norm of Italian supercars. All with a range in the “calma” green setting of 300 miles, and maybe 200 miles range if driven con brio.
In Furioso, acceleration is ruthless, relentless, but with none of the sound and fury of a piston engine screaming its guts out, which makes the view out the windshield all the more intense and otherworldly.
Battista is a bold Darwinian evolution of the classic Italian sports car, but it’s easy to think of it as some species of 4-wheeled particle accelerator. It fits gracefully into the legacy of Pininfarina-designed Ferrari supercars of the past half-century, yet it’s different, of the 21st Century.
Battista has redefined for the entire auto industry the meaning of effortless acceleration. Once my diaphragm and stomach wall could relax after letting off the throttle, involuntary war whoops filled the cabin. Dellacha, who defines Italian Cool, was only slightly annoyed by my Spring Break outbursts.
Battista is not just a straight-line rocket sled as is the case in many electric cars. Dellacha, who cut his teeth developing V8 and V12 cars at Ferrari in the Montezemolo era, from the 360 Modena forward, tuned Battista to have “analog” sensibilities. He has tailored a sense of connection with the mechanical aspects of the car: suspension, steering, jounce and rebound of dampers and springs, roll-rates in cornering, inputs at throttle and brake pedal. Build speed, hold the throttle even and glide through a big sweeper and Battista is a state-of-the-art Italian supercar.
Just like in the best sports cars of the Golden Era, to bank smoothly into that big sweeper, you simply curl your wrist with a squeeze on the side of the chunky steering wheel. Electrics and electronics may be the headline of the Battista story, but it’s no video-game toy.
It’s a hypercar, and thus taut even in the softest calibration. That said, we ambled serenely along PCH north of Malibu for five minutes before turning up yet another canyon road. Battista possesses everyday capability. If you’re one of the lucky 150 owners, don’t hesitate to drive it to a mid-morning presentation in Brentwood or DTLA.
No need to study Zen yogi to slide behind the steering wheel, either. Thanks to butterfly doors, very low sills, and a deep door opening, just face outward, brace a hand on the doorframe, aim your backside at the seat, and drop with hip rotation, then draw legs and feet in. You can go Full Steve McQueen, coolly precise—no need for a Fosbury Flop or scissor kicks. A woman in a short cocktail dress can maintain dignity, her deep knee bend not creating a scene at the valet stand.
Battista quickly becomes an extension of self, surely a payout from Dellacha’s years with Ferrari, which knows man-machine as well as any company on earth. Sightlines forward, across the fendercrests, and to the sides bring instinctive, subconscious connection. As my headline said on an earlier story about this car, think of it as an electric Ferrari. That’s exactly how the machine feels.
There’s enough legroom for the inseam on my six foot two frame. Thin-shell buckets are comfortable but with ample bolstering. If you wear size 13s like mine, opt for moccasins or a loafer, not a pair of hefty lace-up Oxfords. That’s the only compromise inside, and only applies to we roaming big footers.
Battista uses a wide-angle camera mounted astern that projects a clean view onto the flatscreen rearview mirror. That slim mirror is eerie, and combined with Battista’s surprisingly well-formed sound signature, a drive can turn into something like a waking dream state, as if you’re starring in a futurist fantasy cult movie.
Thanks to the simplicity of a lithium-ion battery pack sandwiched between upper and lower cooling systems, Battista does not require a dozen radiators with active aero vents and complex cooling channels. Pininfarina is blessed with its own wind tunnel in Cambiano—they don’t have to rent time from Boeing or Airbus.
Battista has all the expected control of airflow: over, under, sideways, down…and through, ensuring high-speed stability and proper cooling of the battery pack, the enormous Brembo brakes and electric motors. But in contrast to more boy racer supercars, in Battista aero addenda is not allowed to define beauty. It’s all subtly incorporated, flowing, curvaceous.
For my old friends who worked with me in the days of paper and ink who remain internal combustion die-hards, understand that embracing this new form of supercar is not an act of infidelity. You’re simply discovering a new way to explore the pleasures of fast cars. I cannot turn my back on human invention, and I’d never turn down a return engagement with a Battista or any Pininfarina vehicle to come.
Battista sets new standards that challenge every performance car maker—every single one. Battista delivers a pure Italian supercar experience with a new electric rush. And other than Pininfarina’s very own Sergio limited production car based on the Ferrari Italia of years ago, I dare you to point out a sports car in recent memory that is more beautiful.
Supercar collectors who throw down $2 million for a Pininfarina Battista will never be disappointed with the car or the purchase and given time the 1900-horsepower battery-electric Battista will prove a fine investment, a hard asset that will deliver ROI in 10 or 20 years at Gooding’s Pebble Beach auction.
There has never been a car like Battista, the first manifestation of a compelling evolution of the supercar breed, assuring the car’s long-term significance.