Pininfarina Battista

The Circuito Tazio Nuvolari is 1.7 miles long and has a 0.44-mile-long main straight. Ample, really. But the last time I felt anything like this was when I drove a Caterham Seven on Rye House go-kart track. Long straights become very short ones, corner exits blur into braking zones and you spend so much time thinking about going and stopping that cornering is almost an afterthought.

But one that’s worth concentrating on. Pininfarina says it was important that, for the money it charges (more on which in a moment), the Battista must do things that no internal-combustion-engined car could. With 1206bhp going to the rear wheels alone, unsurprisingly it has managed that.

Not only can it do things that no ICE car can do, but it also does things that no 2200kg car should do. The battery pack sits in a T-shape between the occupants and right behind them, low and central, so there’s a remarkable feeling of agility.

Pitch and roll are contained, but still, what feels like firm springing on the road leaves the Battista loose when it puts all of its power down on a circuit. Even modest throttle inputs push it into controlled slides on corner exit, and if you keep your right foot pinned, it feels like the back end is on castors.

That’s unsettling at first but hilarious as you get used to it. Even though the front tyres have 670bhp, the rears are dealing with specialist-drift-car levels of power.

The cornering is arguably more impressive than the acceleration. It’s a two-trick pony at least, then. So while I suspect that if you gave Porsche’s, Ferrari’s or Lotus’s rather bigger engineering teams this level of performance, they would tame it more, it’s a minor miracle that the Battista is this drivable at all.

A caveat, though: the stability-control and torque-vectoring systems are still pre-production. I experienced a momentary loss of retardation and a colleague full ABS failure. Those stopped the laughter.

I doubt the final tune will make a difference to the verdict. How do you rate a car that costs €1.98m (£1.67m) before options, plus local taxes? Call it bang on £2m on the road in the UK, depending on the exchange rate, plus delivery charges and a tenner on numberplates, that sort of thing. Pininfarina hopes to sell 150 Battistas. Its next car – cheaper, slower and more SUV-ish – is meant to follow the end of Battista production in about three years’ time. I don’t think it will be quite like this. Not much will ever be.


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