It shouldn’t be this easy to beat a Bugatti Chiron Sport in the quarter-mile. This level of acceleration should require more driver skill, some rare manual dexterity lacking in Joe Commuter. Admittedly, it’s pretty easy to do a full-bore standing-start launch in a Chiron or any gas car that shifts gears for you. But the electric Rimac Nevera’s acceleration and its physiological impact on you are so extraordinary that you feel it shouldn’t be accessible to anyone able to afford the $2,400,000 price and brave enough to hold the accelerator down.
You do need bravery. Scary is often synonymous with fast, but the Nevera, the Croatian carmaker’s latest creation, is unnerving. Find a long straight and bring the car to a stop. Select Track mode from the closer of the two big in-house CNC-milled rotary switches that control the major driving functions, and maximum torque will flow through the four electric motors. Hold the brake, push the right pedal all the way in, and the back of the car squats as the rear motors flex on the suspension. Take a breath and then let go.
It’s not too brutal at first. Doling out twice the power of a modern Formula 1 car all at once isn’t possible, so the initial rollout is gentle compared to what happens later. In those first few tenths, the Nevera precisely matches motor output to available grip. But then the unnerving part starts as the rate of acceleration begins to increase with speed. The Nevera gets quicker as it’s going faster. Your breathing changes, becoming a slightly panicked eight-second inhalation. The fluid in your eyeballs seems to ripple, distorting your vision. The noise is intense: Four motors scream and whine as 1.4 megawatts—that’s 1877 horsepower—pump through them, and four tires rip at the tarmac, constantly on the edge of grip. It takes a very conscious effort to keep your foot in until the quarter-mile marker passes and you can finally exhale, use an expletive, let your head slump forward, and shake in the wake of the adrenaline.
To make matters slightly more stressful, Rimac founder and head honcho Mate Rimac came along to watch the proceedings and the Nevera is a pre-production prototype and particularly important to his business. We’re also taken by the fact that this one car represents about 10 percent of Croatia’s entire car production this year. There will be plenty more, though. Named for an electrical storm that occasionally ravages the Croat coast, 150 Neveras will be produced, and the first 50 are already sold.
After a few runs, Rimac himself showed me the onboard telemetry that will be available to customers. With no effort, the car did an indicated 8.7-second quarter-mile at 160 mph. Once the launch control is finalized, Mate promises 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, 100 in 4.3, and the standing quarter-mile in 8.6 seconds. In C/D testing, the Chiron Sport hit 60 mph in 2.4 seconds, 100 in 4.4, and passed the quarter-mile in 9.4 seconds at 158 mph.
So other than terror and what could be the quickest car in the world, what do you get for nearly 2.5 million bucks? Quite a lot, actually. Unlike many small-batch manufacturers, a lot of the Nevera is designed and made in-house. Rimac claims the Nevera’s carbon-fiber monocoque is the largest and stiffest of any car, deflecting at 70,000 newton-meters per degree. It has four motors, one for each wheel and each with its own single-speed gearbox. In front, each motor makes 268 horsepower, and the rear gets two 671-hp motors. The system totals of 1400 kW or 1877 horsepower and 1741 pound-feet of torque. The Brembo-supplied 15.4-inch carbon-ceramic brake rotors work in conjunction with up to 300 kW of regen to slow the car. The key-shaped 120.0-kWh battery is mostly behind the seats but also under them and down the center tunnel. Rimac promises it’ll be able to charge at up to 500 kW when that becomes possible; at a 350-kW hookup, it will go from 20 to 80 percent in 18 minutes. The bodywork is all carbon fiber, and some of it moves with an active aero package so smart it can even create the optimum plume of tire smoke behind you in drift mode. On a track, the onboard Driver Coach uses artificial intelligence to figure out the best line, give you a demo, and then tell you where to brake and turn in.
More than just a feral and extreme racer with license plates, Rimac intends the Nevera to be a usable grand tourer. Climbing in is easy, thanks to narrow sills. Outward vision is aided by 360-degree cameras. Three-stage adjustable accelerator sensitivity makes the colossal power simple to manage in traffic. This nearly 1900-hp car is no harder to drive than an Acura NSX. The low-speed ride can occasionally get choppy and noisy, with shock transmitted unabated through that ultra-stiff carbon-fiber structure, but mostly it’s possible to drive it every day.
There isn’t a lot of steering feel, but it’s quick and accurate, and the torque vectoring granted by individual drive motors pulls the nose tight to every apex. The ride is mostly fluid, body control tight, roll contained. And the brakes are mighty, if a little sensitive in their current setup.
The Nevera is no one-trick pony, but the powertrain is definitely the main attraction. Skeptics argue that cars like this have unusable power. But the same case could be made for a 617-hp BMW M5 Competition. The power here isn’t excessive; it just seems unlimited. The Nevera has power like the Fed has money. It just cranks out whatever you need. Passing is instant, at any speed.
It is a distinctly digital experience but no less thrilling for it because the acceleration is unreal. Hypercars like the Nevera aren’t for everyone, but there’s no denying its significance as the moment a battery-powered car toppled the Bugatti Chiron. The internal-combustion engine may never catch up.
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Source: Reviews - aranddriver.com