Pininfarina Battista during the test in Nardò

Caution, high voltage! When the Pininfarina Battista soon pushes into pole position on Electric Avenue, environmentally conscious high-income earners have to be careful. The battery bolide is terrifyingly easy to control for its insane performance. But the dangers lurk elsewhere.

Of course he had gasoline in his blood too. It was not for nothing that René Wollmann started his career with the sporty Mercedes offshoot AMG. But now the Westphalian is something like Mister 1000 volts, high current flows through his veins and he is under even higher voltage than most of the already highly electrified engineers in the automotive industry. After he switched from eight-cylinder to battery at AMG, was first responsible for the SLC eCell and then launched Project One, he is now head of development at Pininfarina, where he is responsible for nothing less than the first hyper sports car of the battery era. As potent as a Porsche Taycan or a Tesla Model S may be, not to mention the exotic Rimac Concept One, they pale against what Wollmann intends to do with the Battista. And Bugatti & Co from the old world as well: 1.900 hp and 2.300 Nm make the whisper-quiet flounder the most powerful car ever built in Italy, and secure it the pole position not only on Electric Avenue.

Quadruple the power

Of course, such performances are easier to represent with electric cars than with a combustion engine, admits Wollmann. Because where his colleagues from the old world have to squeeze their multi-cylinder engines down to the last detail, he simply installs four motors, each of which is hardly bigger than a shoebox and each of them has more power than most Porsches. Two at the front with 250 kW / 340 PS each, two at the rear with 450 kW / 612 PS each - even the 1.500 PS of the Bugatti Chiron suddenly seem rather modest.

But unfortunately that's only the theory, the head of development sends afterwards. In practice, these machines have to be supplied with sufficient energy, which is why the Battista also sets new records for the battery and carries almost 7.000 lithium-ion cells with a total capacity of 120 kWh for a WLTP range of over 500 kilometers . And a charger that can handle up to 250 kW and thus achieves the stroke from 20 to 80 percent in less than 25 minutes. After all, the fun shouldn't be over after one or two laps, especially not if the Battista is being marketed as a Gran Turismo and thus at least verbally sent over the long haul.

Not everyone can

And you have to orchestrate the interaction of the engines accordingly. However, this is both a burden and an opportunity. "Anyone who solves this in a smart and clean way can represent a previously unattainable form of toque vectoring," enthuses Wollmann. Because each motor is controlled individually and its torque can reverse in a few milliseconds, the power can be better distributed than with any traction or stability control and the Battista drives through bends that it steals your senses.

The man who is supposed to hold these senses together for Wollmann and to conduct the orchestra is none other than Nick Heidfeld. Having grown up in Formula 1 and then switching to Formula E, he now closes his racing suit and starts on the handling course of the high-speed oval in Nardo after months in the laboratory and in the simulator for his maiden voyage - and can hardly stop being amazed.

Feather-light steering

Because at the latest when he changes the driving programs from “Calma” to “Furiosa” in the chic but simple cockpit and then quickly lowers his foot, he wants the helmet that he has so carelessly left in the box. Not because the car is so difficult to control. "On the contrary," says Heidfeld, wondering instead how easy it is to keep the car on course and how close it can be to the ideal line without needing more than two fingers on the steering wheel. It's because his head hits the seat so hard during kickdown that it almost hurts. “Even the cars in Formula E don't accelerate so brutally,” he says, while the grin literally shimmers through the Corona mask, “and they don't even weigh half as much as the two-ton Battista.” So Wortmann has it but not too much promised if he wants to sprint from 0 to 100 in less than two seconds, to be to 200 in less than six seconds and to 300 in less than twelve seconds. In contrast, the 350 km / h top seem almost modest.

But it is not just the sheer acceleration that distinguishes the Battista. What Heidfeld is just as enthusiastic about is the precision with which he can master the Pininfarina. Four individually controlled motors with extremely fast thrust reversal enable perfect torque vectoring and thus the ultimate in stability control. And all of this without any delay, as you know it from even the fastest combustion engines: Heidfeld brakes corners later, cuts through the radii at greater speed and is back on the gas earlier. And although the Battista is anything but a lightweight and not a puristic racer for the racetrack, it is not in the least impressed by the centrifugal force - this is digital lawn 2.0 and an experience that you literally have to digest first. If you climb out of the passenger seat next to Heidfeld after three laps, you are initially served and avoid the buffet.

Tesla cannot be left behind

Pininfarina celebrates the Battista not only as a super sports car, but also as a manifesto of a new self-confidence. After 90 years of drawing and in some cases developing the most beautiful and spectacular cars for other manufacturers, the Italians praise the electric low-flying aircraft as the first product of their own. Unfortunately, that's only half the story. The Italians are cooperating with the Croatian start-up Rimac on batteries and drive systems and on the carbon monocoque, which is building its C2 on the same high-tech skateboard and is already launching its first competitor for the Battista. And as if that weren't enough, Lotus is also working on an electric extremist who, as “Evija” with 2.000 hp, is supposed to mark the beginning of a new era for the ailing British. And somehow the new Tesla Roadster with its more than 1.000 hp is pushing its way into this league of the hasty elite.

As well as the Battista may drive, as spectacular as it looks and as little regret is when racing, Wollmann will of course not save the world with the racer. Because even if the engineer can experiment more on such a project and therefore hopes for a lot of new knowledge, the impact on the global climate will be rather small. All the more so when the Battista, as one might assume, will only be in an air-conditioned collector's garage most of the time. And yet it is already a big step for Mister 1.000 volts. After there were barely a dozen SLS eCell cars, Pininfarina wants to build the Battista 150 times.