Speed for speed’s sake seemingly serves little purpose. The automotive world’s fascination with 0-60mph times is far too often little more than a pissing contest, with genuine automotive innovation being served up as fortunate a byproduct of such willy waving.
You might think that Rimac’s new electric hypercar falls into this category, a rare entrant into the canon of cars that can propel you from standstill to 60 miles an hour in under two seconds. It joins the Porsche 911 Turbo S and Tesla’s Roadster in this rarified group.
The numbers for Rimac’s Nevera are, admittedly, frankly staggering. Formerly known as the C_Two, the car’s structure houses a 6,960-cell, 120kWh lithium/manganese/nickel battery (designed from scratch by Rimac) powering four permanent magnet motors driving each wheel individually. The 340-mile WLTP range can be topped up in 19 minutes from zero to 80 per cent when hooked up to a 500kW charger. Not only does this set-up afford the Nevera the most advanced torque vectoring ever achieved, it means the car has a mind-boggling output of 1.4 megawatts. That’s 1,914bhp and 1,740lb ft of torque.
Top speed is a theoretical 258mph. Zero to 60mph is dealt with in 1.85 seconds, 100mph in 4.3 seconds, the quarter mile from a standing start dispatched in a mere 8.6 seconds. Incidentally, the Nevera reaches 186mph in 9.3 seconds. Why is this worth mentioning? It means it is faster than an F1 car, yet it weighs 2,150kg compared to the 752kg regulation minimum weight of a Formula 1 racer.
As I sat on the Zadar airport runway in Croatia, preparing to launch myself at these ridiculous speeds towards the white stripes in the far distance, I wondered how such acceleration might feel. The main advice I was given was to be sure to place my head on the headrest so I wouldn’t strain my neck muscles fighting to keep my head in place as the Nevera shot down the course ahead.
After setting off, then main things I can recall after the punishing initial g-forces is the odd sensation of the featureless outside view – no trees, side roads or other cars to give any frame of reference as to how fast I was going – bending around the windscreen. It looked like the dolly zoom shot made famous in Vertigo and Jaws where an in-camera effect undermines normal visual perception resulting in the background warping impossibly.
I physically couldn’t tear my eyes away from this disorientating scene to note that I had topped out at just shy of 160mph in less time than it took to write this sentence. This must be what going into hyperspace feels like as light bends around the cockpit. Seemingly before I could draw breath I had hit the point at which you either lift off the throttle before tarmac ends or resign yourself to taking a £1.7 million limited edition electric hypercar off road at speeds that would really not be advisable. Unsurprisingly, so overwhelming was this all-out assault on the senses, once back at the starting line it took a great summoning of will not to throw up.
What’s more surprising, however, is that a car with such capabilities as this then proves to be child’s play to drive on the open road. Rimac’s All-Wheel Torque Vectoring 2 (R-AWTV 2) system replaces your traditional ESP and traction control systems, calculating more than 100 times per second the precise level of torque to channel through each wheel for optimal stability. The result is, in “comfort” mode (as opposed to the visceral, bone-shaking “track” experienced on the runway), an exceedingly pleasant ride considering the car is not even finished yet.