RM9.4m Rimac is a feat unlike any in EV history

by HANNAH ELLIOTT (Bloomberg Businessweek) 

AT THE top of Malibu Canyon Road, right before the asphalt dipped back into hairpin turns, I caught a glimpse of the sapphire Pacific Ocean below. Suspended for a moment, I felt my shoulders relax. My jaw unclenched.

Ah, yes, the simple things, I thought to myself. Fresh air. The sun and sea. Just the basics. This is what it’s all about.

Then I pressed the accelerator in the 1,914hp Rimac Nevera I was test-driving and blasted back to Los Angeles. Look, we can’t be expected to stay simple all the time.

The Nevera, which costs €2 million (RM9.36 million), is the opposite of a basic necessity. The electric supercar can bolt from 0 to 60 mph in 1.85 seconds; top speed is 258 mph. Putting pedal to metal can momentarily suspend your sense of space and time — my eyes and ears felt as if they paused for a moment to gauge what had just happened.

It looks as stunning as its performance numbers suggest. The car is compact and curvy, with doors that swivel up and out like butterfly wings. 

A large air scoop sits in the centre of its hood and a glass roofline stretches from the door hinges to the spoiler. Its carbon-fibre wing on the back extends out like a picnic table, depending on how fast you’re going.

Along each side, air vents flow into the body in sinuous curves that nod, Rimac Automobili says, to the shape of a cravat — the proto-necktie worn by Croatian soldiers who fought in Napoleon’s army. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres come standard. 

The Nevera cabin incorporates touchscreens and tactile buttons; it offers seating for 2 with 2 cup holders nestled in between the seats

The company will paint the car in pretty much whatever colour you want. Black and blue dominate early purchases, so if you really want to stand out, pick a hue in the other direction. (The one I drove was a pretty Callisto Green.)

Seating inside fits two people. A pair of cup holders can withstand G-forces, and they join conveniences such as phone chargers and seat warmers. 

A single round speaker angled vertically behind the seats monopolises any space you may have hoped would hold a coat or handbag, but there’s enough headroom to accommodate a helmet should you decide to take it to the track.

Once there, you’ll eviscerate all comers. The Nevera runs on a four-motor, all-electric powertrain with 1,725 lb-ft of torque, able to be adjusted individually for each wheel. 

Six drive modes further optimise throttle response and suspension stiffness. Drift mode and launch control are particularly naughty.

Under the prime driving conditions that exist only in fantasy, the Nevera will get 300 miles (483 km) per charge; 200 miles is more realistic. Gauges inside and light pods subtly placed outside the vehicle when it’s turned on indicate how much the battery has depleted. It will charge to 80% in 25 minutes on a 350 kW charger.

The lightweight doors open up and out like butterfly wings. Just 150 units of the Nevera will be made

The only thing more surprising than the superlatives is how quickly it all happened. Some brands haven’t made anything this beautiful in 100 years of business; Mate Rimac founded his eponymous company in his garage in 2009.

The 34-year-old Croatian has been working on cars and experimenting with their technology since grade school. When he was 19, Rimac converted a BMW M3 into an electric car that broke several records at the time. 

He also developed an active rearview mirror that did away with blind spots, and by age 21 earned patents for inventing the iGlove, which aimed to replace the computer mouse and keyboard.

In January he formed Rimac Group, an umbrella company that owns 55% of Bugatti Rimac and 100% of Rimac Technology, a supplier of high-performance battery systems that employs 1,000 people on the outskirts of Zagreb. 

Much of the car was developed in-house from scratch, including the battery system, gearbox, infotainment and all- wheel-torque vectoring. The 440 lb monocoque is a single piece of carbon fibre that the company says is the stiffest body shell in the industry.

Unlike most cars of this calibre, the Nevera rewards cruising, grand-touring style, along lonely back roads and wide residential byways. When I urged it forward during our Malibu date, the car responded instantly with no perceptible effort. 

One moment we were at 40 mph, then we were at 80 mph. And up from there. No drama. At the hottest point of the day in LA’s oppressive pressure cooker known as August, the car hummed and whirred its way through Topanga with ease.

It isn’t perfect. The brake-by-wire system clicks; the sun visors wobble over uneven pavement. A lone grey hazard button stands out on the dashboard like a pimple on prom night.

But it’s close. It goes faster than any other production car yet is engineered to handle like a friendly conversation. 

Its asphyxia-inducing good looks don’t compromise on comfort for daily driving. And it’s got exceptional build quality and craftsmanship among cadres of other electric vehicles that don’t.

With the elite price tag and production run limited to 150, the Rimac Nevera is going to be difficult to get. But if you’re lucky enough to get behind the wheel, everything else sure seems simple. —Bloomberg / Pics source: Rimac