September 28, 2023

What it’s like to drive the 1,914 horsepower, $2.2 million Rimac Nevera electric hypercar

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ZAGREB, Croatia – I was the first American to visit Rimac’s newest headquarters on the outskirts of the Croatian capital Zagreb. When completed early next year, the 800,000-square-foot facility will house continued production of the brand’s flagship Nevera, a 1,914 horsepower, $2.2 million, all-electric all-wheel-drive hypercar. It has already set nearly two dozen world records for acceleration and braking, including rushing from 0-60 mph in 1.7 seconds. But while Rimac, pronounced “ree-mahtz,intends to attempt another world record in this concrete space without pillars, for the fastest speed achieved in a building, this was not where I drove the fastest vehicle in the world.

Most of my driving was on Croatia’s highways, villages and hills. Rimac conducts quality checks on every Nevera it builds for two weeks, including up to 500 miles of shakedown rides, and it shows. Seams are even inside and out; everything works as it should, and the car doesn’t rattle like a 1970s Italian exotic or a 1920s Tesla. Perhaps this is the result of the company’s founder and CEO Mate Rimac’s experience with his own Model S, whose material quality he described to me was only decent “if you don’t really care, if you’re not much of a car person, and you don’t care about all the details of the interior and stuff like that.”

Plus, the technology on board feels in service to the Nevera, complementing rather than counteracting the sense of joy like the Pininfarina Battista’s hard-to-see/use video side mirrors, and infotainment and instrument panels (the powertrain of that car and carbon fiber tub are produced by Rimac by the way). This was particularly apparent in the easy-to-apply handful of riding modes controlled by a simple, knurled button.

Range mode maximizes efficiency by favoring the front motors, although even in that setting the range of the 120 kilowatt hours of battery packs stowed under the floor can only reach about 200 through the central tunnel and behind the seats . miles. This feels perfect if you plan on running errands in your Nevera, which seems about as likely as riding a unicycle. The two offer similar indoor storage. If you want to go further than 200 miles, a 0-80% charge takes just 25 minutes via a 350-kilowatt DC fast charger, though Rimac claims the car will be able to accept speeds of 500kW once the charging infrastructure is there.

Cruise mode offers softer suspension settings and less aggressive acceleration and steering inputs. Sport mode raises the bar on all of these. I usually hesitated between these two, the first on wider roads, the second on winding roads. Both send power to the motors in the front and rear wheels – the rear wheels produce significantly more – but limit power to 70% of maximum power. This is not unusual for cars with huge amounts of power, but seems like a particularly good idea here.

Track mode stiffens and tightens things up further, ensuring all 1,914 horsepower and 1,725 ​​pound-feet of torque reach both ends. Drift mode sends all available power to the rear tires and disables the stability and traction controls, allowing you to play out all the sadistic fantasies you could possibly have towards pricey Michelin rubber with a section width of 315 millimeters.

For our flat-out 0-60 runs on the track, we used Track mode, appropriately enough. As much as I tried to prepare myself for the experience of my brain and internal organs being shunted backwards by 1.5g, the reality of hurtling forward into the Nevera proved quite a hurdle. I had just eaten a traditional Croatian lunch, but I didn’t feel sick. It was more of a mild disorientation, like I couldn’t handle the speed. It wasn’t like that dream where you find out you can fly. More like the one when you find yourself falling. In a black hole.

According to Mate Rimac, this experience may be relative.

“When the first trains came out, the scientific community agreed that humans are not built for fast travel,” he said.
“I think they said your brain will explode at 35 miles an hour.”

I can confirm shooting from 0-60 in less than 2 seconds didn’t cause such a brain rupture. I thought it was unsettling to realize that I had probably just experienced how fast I will ever accelerate in a car. At least one “with only ties and no guile,” as Rimac said, mischievously hinting that he has such tricks up his sleeve.

Surprisingly, the Nevera was quite smooth on road and track. Its computer-controlled suspension dampened imperfections, and while it has a lift — which works on all four corners, not just the nose — it wasn’t necessary to implement, even when climbing the speed bumps that mark the entrance to many Croatian cities . Another example of how the car transcends physical limitations.

Braking is a slightly different issue. While the rotors that set the world record are clearly extremely capable, the speed and agility of the Nevera may have prevented me from taking the car’s mass into account as much as possible. The four-wheel drive system with torque vectoring can diligently distribute the power of the individual engine in each wheel to maximize grip and provide extra rescue if something goes wrong on the road or track, but keep in mind that inertia in a 5,100 car pound is anything but inert.

Rimac has seen massive investment from Aston Martin, Bugatti, Koenigsegg and others, contracting it to support the development of battery-powered performance products. Those are big names. But Mate Rimac feels his eponymous company maintains a three- to five-year head start on the competition. And he is confident that it will continue to stand out.

“Rimac has to be more of the crazy, the rebel, doing things that might be unimaginable,” he said. “Because maybe six, seven years ago it was unthinkable for an electric car to accelerate from zero to 60 in less than 2 seconds. And what I want to do now is do more things that might be unthinkable today.”

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