Hyper cars have entered the electric era. Here, we take a look at five definitive plug-ins, from a mix of heritage marques and bold emerging carmakers.
By STEPHEN CORBY
When we talk about how long something is we tend to measure it in football fields; if we’re making a weight comparison, we’ll reach for how many elephants it equates to. But when it comes to talking about how fast a car is, the benchmark is always Formula 1. That’s because road cars, even the hyper ones, are never quite as fast as an F1 race car, or they weren’t, until Pininfarina — an Italian design house that previously helped supercar companies make their cars more beautiful — unveiled its Battista.
The company’s first-ever vehicle is all-electric and all-round ridiculous, with 1,416kW and 2,300Nm on tap, a $3.4 million price tag and the bold marketing tagline “faster than a Formula 1 racer”. With a motor tucked into each wheel it’s actually twice as powerful as the average F1 car so it seems a reasonable claim, as is its sub-two-second 100km/h dash. But who, other than an F1 driver, will be brave enough to tame one?
Elon Musk, the marketing genius behind Tesla, makes a habit of promising outlandish things, but what makes him one of the richest people in the world is the ability to actually deliver.
Which is why we should probably take his claims about the much-mooted Tesla Roadster at least slightly seriously. True, it’s difficult to comprehend his suggestion that the $326,000 Roadster will be able to provide 10,000Nm of wheel torque — that much grunt should simply dig a hole for the car to fall into — but the suggestion that a Tesla can hit 100km/h in 2.1 seconds doesn’t seem implausible at all.
The Roadster will also, allegedly, have a battery capable of providing a 1,000 kilometre range and enough room for four adults.
We’re not quite sure if Musk is serious about his promise that high-performance variants of the car will include small rocket thrusters, borrowed from one of his other companies, but anything is possible.
Is it wise to not so subtly hide the word “never” in the name of your new car? Is there not a danger that it might give people a sense that what you’re promising is never actually going to arrive, that it’s just vapourware on wheels?
Obviously, the answer is yes, but this is just the kind of crazy, non-mainstream behaviour that Rimac Automobil — a truly outside-the-mainstream brand — is set to become famous for.
You might recall that Richard Hammond, a co-presenter of “Top Gear”, narrowly escaped with his life back in 2017 when he crashed Rimac’s absurd 913kW Concept One. But that didn’t slow down the Croatian EV company, nor did it do anything to discourage investors, with Porsche recently purchasing 24% of the company.
Rimac’s next big, bad thing is the Nevera— and it really does sound like something from Neverland. The size of its price tag, $3.2 million, is exceeded only by the power from its four electric motors, which promise a huge 1,400kW and 2,360Nm. If the tyres don’t simply explode, the Rimac Nevera will hurl you to 100km/h in 1.97 seconds, or to 300km/h in 9.3 seconds. Top speed is 412km/h.
It might sound like something that will never happen, but pre-production models are already out there, somewhere.
Exploring the rare air beyond 300km/h is the kind of thing that’s tempting for adrenaline junkies, but usually even they like to be able to walk away afterwards with their hair still attached to their scalps.
The Aston Martin Valkyrie Spider will take you all the way to 330km/h with its removable carbon-fibre roof safely tucked away, but the chances that the wind at those speeds will suck the top of your head right off seem fairly high. Perhaps the $5 million-plus price tag will include helmets.
There’s certainly plenty of race-car tech on offer here, with Aston Martin promising the Spider can deliver an experience closer to a Formula 1 racer than any road car ever. That’s partly down to the extreme use of aerodynamic nous, lifted from the company’s F1 team, but it’s also due to the hybridised 6.5-litre V12 engine, which offers 850kW of power and a very racy redline of 11,000rpm. You have to wonder if hearing loss might be another side effect to consider if going roofless (bonus: the Spider will hit 350km/h if you leave the roof on).
The designers at Ferrari believe their cars are the most visually delectable in the world, because Italians grow up surrounded by beauty, and the folks at Lamborghini will tell you that their more brutalistic, aggressive style is better again.
But if it’s pure speed you’re after, with a touch of high-tech cool thrown in, McLaren is the brand for you. Bringing Formula 1know-how to the road has always been the company’s goal and it pretty much perfected the idea of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) hyper cars with the incredible P1, which launched in 2013. Now, it is updating the breed with the Artura, which slots into the McLaren line-up in 2022, somewhere between the less violent GT and the stupidly wild 720S.
Powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 linked with an electric motor, the $449,500 Artura offers a hefty 500kW and 720Nm, with all of that going to the rear wheels for serious sideways fun. It can combine its electric and petrol power for a zero to 200km/h dash of just 8.3 seconds, or you can save the planet by using its 7.4kWh lithium-ion battery to drive up to 30 kilometres in zero-emission EV mode at speeds of up to 130km/h. You could, but you almost certainly won’t, because you’ll want to hear the noise its petrol engine makes.