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Geneva 2019: Automobili Pininfarina Battista

04 March 2019 | by Michael Gooderham

Automobili Pininfarina – which, we should make clear, is a new company created with and fully owned by Mahindra & Mahindra – has publicly revealed its first car, the all-electric Battista hyper-GT, for the first time. 

The new company worked very closely with the 89-year-old Pininfarina SpA we already know and love (and which Mahindra Group also predominantly owns) to create and develop the design, marking the realisation of the late Battista “Pinin” Farina’s dream for the design house he founded in 1930 to one day build cars as an OEM brand in its own right.

The car, whose goal is “to make people love EVs,” will also be built in Cambiano, from Q4 2020, in a run of no more than 150 examples. it is the first of an intended four-car range, all in high-end segments and built in low numbers, with sustainable premium materials and full-EV powertrains.

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In an interview with Maorinews News, Pininfarina SpA’s design director, Carlo Bonzanigo, said of the project: “When we were asked to design this electric hypercar which should express luxury, high technological content and ecological conscience, we had to come up with a form language which was totally new. We started to understand that, because it’s a different type of power, this car should express its power in another way.” 

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“So, we have tried to work on the volumes and surfaces to express a sort of ‘soft power’. This form language moves away from referencing the ‘gasoline world’ and towards the aerodynamic and fluid-dynamic, ‘liquid world’. What we wanted to do is absolutely avoid the usual reflex that we would use with a normal V12 mid-engine hypercar. So, this was really the biggest effort before sketching: how do we express these different values with a different object?” 

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While the fundamental shape of the car being very low, pointy and cab-forwards is to be expected of anything described as a hypercar, the impression made by the Battista is immediately different from the snarling, scowling hypercars emerging from design studios elsewhere in northern Italy, and beyond.

A desire to keep things as simple as possible while still cooling the substantial batteries and motors and allowing for aerodynamic performance, has lead to a fairly clean, un-fussy look, with the air intakes made as subtle as possible to avoid slashing the surfaces to pieces.

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The DRG is minimalist, with an LED lighting strip connecting two small main headlights, while a carbon outline (quietly containing small ducts for airflow channels) reaches from the main lights’ outer edges to loop around the foremost point of the car, creating a separate, wing-like panel ‘inside’ the face of the car, which customers can have painted in a contrasting colour (see above).

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The side profile benefits from two graphic devices which help visually lower the car. Firstly, the roof is blacked-out to give the appearance of a full glass dome. This pulls the eye’s focus onto the coloured main volume, a trick many car companies have found useful of late.

Secondly, in case that wasn’t enough, a contrasting trim piece traces the outline of the upper DLO edge, in such a way as to make the roof’s profile appear two centimetres lower. It terminates in an arrowhead-like shape adorned with a refined imitation of Battista Farina’s signature.

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As for the main volume itself, the bodyside has very deliberately been kept smooth, with a soft negative surface reaching forwards from an air duct ahead of the rear wheels being the only interruption.

Above it is perhaps the main feature line of the exterior. It reaches from the ‘cheekbone’ of the front end, runs through the front wheel, then continues along the door before sweeping up and over the rear shoulder onto the rear deck, terminating in a ‘floating’ rear wing element on each side which is punctuated by LED tail lights at their trailing edge.

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This design allowed the teams to “hide” different cooling and air-channelling functions within the long, twisting surface, as a bare-carbonfibre piece runs inside it to bisect the airflow – partly cooling the radiators, partly feeding the pop-up rear wing and airbrake. Below this elegant tail is the obligatory large air diffuser for greater high-speed stability.

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The interior features a very strong driver-focused theme. Whilst they couldn’t have gone the McLaren F1/Speedtail route of a central driver’s seat even if they wanted to, due to the T-shaped battery configuration (chosen over a skateboard platform to keep the car low-slung), the interior team have worked to create a contrast-coloured ‘driver zone’ which is absolutely symmetrical, right down to the minor trim pieces.

Finishing off the upper are is a chicane-inspired, angular dash, which straightens out for the minimalist passenger side.

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Ahead of the driver is an irregularly-shaped steering wheel, where the traditional stalks have been replaced with rotary switches nestled into the lateral spokes. Two large screens show the vehicle and media information, while a small central unit viewed through the steering wheel shows the speed and other vital info.

Despite the trio of screens, there is still a reliance on physical controls that are within easy reach for the main functions – because the last thing you should be doing in a 1,900-horsepower car (yes, really) is looking through sub-menus instead of looking where you’re going.

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Speaking of which, the Battista takes its EV underpinnings from Croatian outfit Rimac, who worked closely with Automobili Pininfarina throughout. It appears the battery and motor layout are all but the same as that of their own C_Two, with a motor and gearbox for each wheel to allow instant torque-vectoring. Pininfarina claims a 0-62mph time of 1.9 seconds and a top speed above 250mph. So it’s rather quick.

We will have a full, in-depth article on this car for our subscribers to enjoy very soon. For now, feel free to scroll through both galleries.

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