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2022 Automobili Pininfarina Battista First Drive Review: Mamma Mia!

This EV hypercar is much more than its headline-making straight-line speed.

Front 3/4 view of a green Automobili Pininfarina Battista EV Hypercar in motion
Pininfarina's first standalone production car is glorious.
James Lipman/Automobili Pininfarina

The first thing that strikes me as I walk up to the glistening Automobili Pininfarina Battista is its idle noise. Instead of a throaty exhaust note or the whirring of cooling fans, this stunning hypercar is emitting a strange, pulsating electronic thrum. That "Suono Puro" noise signals to the world that the Battista is not powered by some exotic Italian V12, but is instead fully electric. This is the future of hypercars right here, and the Battista is all the better for it.

Though Pininfarina is a legendary design house with more than 90 years of history, the Automobili Pininfarina spin-off was founded in 2018 and launched with the Battista. (For brevity's sake I'll omit the "Automobili" for the rest of the story, but the car company is a somewhat separate entity from the design firm.) Croatian brand Rimac supplied Pininfarina with the Battista's electric motors and 120-kilowatt-hour battery pack -- the same basic setup used in the Nevera -- but the Italians did everything else in-house. Pininfarina has a long history of designing some of the world's most beautiful midengined machines -- and man, is the Battista gorgeous.

Finished in a glorious pearlescent green called Verde Paradiso that has shimmery gold flake, this Battista really stands out under the Malibu sun. You won't find the usual smattering of huge intakes and big wings as most modern hypercars, but the Battista still has a lot of cool aerodynamic trickery going on, like shoulder vents that pass through to the floating rear wing. My favorite design cues are the thin LED taillights that sit like blades atop the rear end; when the light catches them they throw red reflections all over the ground. Its styling may come off generic at first, but to me the Battista is obviously a Pininfarina design -- elegant, understated and unforgettable.

The taillights make for some amazing reflections.

James Lipman/Automobili Pininfarina

Getting into the Battista is surprisingly easy. Its heavy butterfly doors have a large cut-out in the roof, and the side sill is much narrower than on most midengined cars. After sliding into the seat butt first, I'm greeted by a trio of screens in front of me. A screen about the size of an original iPhone is mounted at the top of the steering column, showing vital info like speed, drive mode, range and battery charge level. Flanking the steering wheel are a pair of larger touchscreens that run an attractive infotainment system designed by Pininfarina. The left screen shows things like performance pages, drive mode info and other vehicle settings, while the right screen is mostly for navigation and media.

There's plenty of satisfying tactile stuff inside, too. Every piece of aluminum trim is milled from its own single block of metal, including the surrounds for the rotary drive mode and gear selectors, which have small displays, too. The leather seats have cool triangular stitching patterns, with all the aluminum analog buttons and switches using the same pattern for texture. The Battista even has a small volume knob, and the air vents are adjusted manually too. I do wish there were stalks behind the steering wheel for turn signals and wiper functions instead of everything being controlled via buttons on the wheel, but the hexagonal wheel itself is nicely shaped and has a thick rim.

The Battista powers on without much fanfare, and as I set off onto Pacific Coast Highway it feels, well, normal. Unlike pretty much every gas-powered hypercar, the Battista is perfectly happy to sit in traffic. There's no high-strung idle, no uncomfortable heat emanating through the cabin and no jerky transmission. In Calma mode the Battista is -- hilariously -- front-wheel drive, with the two front motors producing a more than adequate 402 horsepower, and Pininfarina says the Battista has an EPA-rated range of 300 miles. In this mode as well as the next-level-up Pura setting (which has just under 1,000 hp) the Battista has strong one-pedal regenerative braking, which is greatly appreciated versus the touchy brakes that are typical of this caliber of car. Visibility is pretty great, with thin A-pillars and sculpted front fenders that make the Battista easy to place, and a digital rearview mirror aiding the view behind. The ride is stiff without being unbearable, letting you feel all the bumps and divots in the road without getting unsettled. The Battista even has enough storage space in the rear for a set of fitted leather luggage.

The Battista's interior is spacious.

James Lipman/Automobili Pininfarina

Once I turn off PCH and get onto one of Malibu's excellent canyon roads, I twist the Battista's drive mode knob to the aptly named Furiosa, which unlocks its maximum performance capability. There's an electric motor at each wheel for a ridiculous total of 1,877 hp and 1,726 pound-feet of torque. From a stop, 60 mph arrives in under 2 seconds, but honestly, once you get below the mid-2-second mark, I don't think 0-to-60 times really matter. Where the Battista's power really comes through is when it keeps accelerating past 60. It takes less than 6 seconds for the Battista to reach 124 mph, and 186 mph is achieved in less than 12 seconds. Even a light squeeze of the right pedal is brain-melting, and I have to be way more conscious of how much more I can accelerate between each corner than in a normal high-performance car. The power is immediate in every situation, and it doesn't fade away after a few seconds or at higher speeds. Keep your foot to the floor and the Battista will accelerate all the way up to 217 mph.

But the Battista is so much more than straight-line speed. Its T-shaped battery pack gives the Battista a weight distribution akin to a traditional midengined supercar, and it feels much lighter than its 4,000-ish-pound estimated curb weight. The Battista has fully variable torque vectoring that can independently control each electric motor, which combined with standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires provides mega amounts of grip. I can feel the Battista wiggle and squirm under acceleration in corner exits, but there's never a moment where it's unsettled. In Furiosa mode the regenerative braking is dialed down a bit, requiring me to actually use the Battista's Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, which have a strong bite and are well integrated with the regen.

Automobili Pininfarina Battista EV Hypercar
James Lipman/Automobili Pininfarina

Most importantly, the Battista is genuinely fun to drive. The steering provides a fantastic amount of feedback and is quick without being twitchy; there's none of the disconnected feeling typically associated with EVs. Acceleration bursts result in massive giggles, while throwing the Battista into a corner provides shock and awe. Once I'm used to the absurd performance it's not daunting to drive faster and push harder, but even a leisurely pace is enjoyable. A mellow cruise through the canyons gives me total Italian Job vibes, thankfully without a tractor hidden in a tunnel. The Battista has a real personality that's apparent no matter the situation, and it's a really easy car to fall in love with. 

That Suono Puro sound just adds to the whole experience. Pininfarina's engineers worked with audio brand Novo Sonic to take the authentic sounds made by the Battista's powertrain and layer specific frequencies on top, using individual synthesizers that respond to and tune things like motor speed and steering input. The results are pumped through 12 Naim speakers mounted both inside and outside of the car. Pininfarina says the Battista's base idle frequency is 54 Hz, which sends organic symmetrical ripples through water and has an effect on human well-being that, say, Gwyneth Paltrow might enjoy. In Furiosa mode the noise gets noticeably louder and more aggressive, and the sounds change as I drive, becoming increasingly intense the quicker I go. There's not much sound deadening in general, so in addition to the Suono Puro noises I hear the pinging of stones against the carbon-fiber tub, the tires smacking against rough patches in the pavement, the brakes squeaking and the whooshing of wind as I accelerate. It might sound gimmicky, pun intended, but the Battista's auditory drama just adds to the excitement.

@cnetcars The electric Pininfarina Battista hypercar has an actual idle noise! What do you think? #Pininfarina#battista#pininfarinabattista#hypercar#supercar#electriccar#luxury#malibu#ReTokforNature♬ original sound - CNET Cars

The car isn't without faults, of course. When I first got into the Battista the seat and mirror adjustments, which are controlled through the touchscreens, weren't working at all, requiring a full restart of the car. The backup camera system wasn't working either, making it just a bit more stressful to maneuver the Battista on a small turnout to get photos. There's basically zero interior storage aside from a small glove box and one of the smallest cup holders I've ever seen. And while the material quality on the interior is fantastic, there are a number of squeaks, rattles and wiggly trim pieces. This is a hand-built Italian car, after all.

Only 150 Battistas will be built, with a starting price of around $2.2 million, and each one will be completely unique. Pininfarina says there are 13.9 quintillion possible exterior spec combinations (and 128 million interior configurations), and owners will be fully involved in the design process of their cars, working closely with chief designer Dave Amantea, even flying to Italy throughout the process. It takes about 10 weeks for each Battista to be built, with 10 craftspeople spending more than 1,250 hours on each one, and the even more limited Anniversario model is hand-painted, too. This particular Battista is actually the first production car to be delivered, and apparently the brave owner is stoked to have so many journalists and other customers driving the car during its months-long road show. It was displayed at Villa d'Este earlier this year, where it was the first EV to win the Concorso d'Eleganza Design Award.

North America is likely going to end up being Pininfarina's biggest market, with the brand having partnered with nine dealerships across the US and Canada along with 16 others worldwide. The Battista is already sold out, and it was obviously unattainable for regular consumers anyway. But Automobili Pininfarina has big plans to expand, with its next model set to be an electric SUV that will be built in greater numbers. The Battista assuages any fears that the electric era would remove the flair and emotion that's inherent to all the Italian cars we love, so if Pininfarina's next model can capture even some of that spirit, it'll be a real winner.