A decent benchmark for ‘incredibly fast car’ is an Aston Martin Vantage. It comes with 503 hp, cracks 0-62 mph in 3.6 seconds, brushes the underside of 200 mph, is fun to drive, and tickles the senses in all the right ways.
It is also, thanks to the Rimac Nevera, a slow-moving relic. A thing that, when we look back from the future, we’ll consider “hot… ish.” Rimac has moved the performance game on so far and so convincingly that it renders any argument against electric cars moot.
The Rimac (and that’s pronounced Rimatz; it’s Croatian) Nevera, formerly known as the C_Two, is, on paper, a big deal. It comes with a 120-kWh battery and four electric motors that fire 1914 hp and 1696 lb-ft to all four wheels. The numbers translate to a 340-mile range, 0-62 mph in 1.97 seconds, 0-100 in 4.3, 0-186 in 11.6, on up to 250 mph. It’ll cover the quarter-mile in under nine seconds. Thanks to Rimac’s charging architecture, you can recharge it from 20% to 80% range in just 18 minutes with a 350kW fast-charger. Impressive stuff written down, but will it do it?
Rimac kindly provided a runway and a fully charged Nevera to put its money where its mouth is. To launch the car you need to have it in Drive, nail the brake, lean on the gas, wait for the instrument panel to indicate Launch Mode, and lift off the stop pedal. Then… You warp from one part of the world to another. The acceleration is savage and unrelenting. As there are no gears to shift, you’re not given a break for a millisecond. The speedo adds numbers so quickly it can’t keep pace with itself, but you don’t look down because you’re struggling to breathe. Where torquey turbo cars push you back in your seat, the Nevera forces the air from your lungs. While you try and catch your breath, your vision narrows as you aim for the distance. Your hands have pleasingly little to do thanks to the car’s incredible stability; it feels solid as they come. Nine seconds after lifting off the brakes, you’re back on them, stopping straight and true with nary a hint of drama, on a dry day at least. While taking a moment to reinflate your chest, involuntary and incredulous swearing happens. Everything else from that point on is slow.
When it comes to outright performance at least, the internal combustion engine’s card is irrevocably marked. And then you turn around and do it again because… why not? The car can do it anyway.
An EV proving it’s very quick isn’t new, but the step up in performance between ‘quite fast’ and ‘so fast it makes breathing difficult’ is quite something. Much faster could well feel rather unpleasant.
As a thing to look at, the Nevera eschews big, shiny, chintzy. Company founder Mate Rimac says he wanted to build a timeless car, one that reflected where it came from. The key design point, the necktie graphic that runs along its flanks, is a nod to Croatian heritage. Three lights in the ‘knot’ show what mode the car is in; these can also be customized to the owner’s preference.
The interior is a feat in carbon fiber and leather. Six screens handle the vast majority of the car’s functions: a central touch screen does most of the heavy lifting for seat adjustment, A/C, infotainment, and car setup; others act as displays that change depending on settings. There’s a pleasing tactility in the cabin as well. Flip-switches under the main screen jump the display to specific functions and work the windows, for example, and the steering wheel comes with the usual mass of buttons required for the day-to-day. Rimac wanted some proper tactility in there, and placed click-wheels around each of its small circular display screens. Shifting to drive or between drive modes (depending on switch) is a chunky, angry joy. This is a car that has given itself over to technology, and unashamedly so.
The steering is done by wire, as are the brakes, bar an emergency connection. It steers sweetly, perhaps lacking a touch of the feel you’d get in a more traditional setup, but that’s not anything to complain about. It changes depending on your driving mode, making things easier or more engaging. The brakes are fascinating; the Nevera can use brake regen to recoup some power on the move or employ its 15-inch six-pot carbon-ceramic Brembos depending on the situation. Because the brakes are not connected to the pedal, feel has been programmed in by Rimac; it can be adjusted depending on your driving mode. The car we drove was 95% finished, meaning the set up was still TBD, but it provided good feedback, though it was a little soft in the middle. The brakes, as demonstrated on our jaunt down the runway, work rather well. When you’re properly stepping on them, though, you feel the car’s 4740-lb kerb weight come into play. On a runway that doesn’t matter, but it can feel a little alarming when coming to a brisk stop in traffic.
Weight is still an EV’s Achilles heel. Rimac’s huge battery is a big ol’ lump, although it’s hidden low in the car, under the cabin and behind the driver. Every effort was made to keep weight down, and the liberal use of carbon fiber everywhere is evidence of that, but the Nevera’s carbon monocoque deserves special mention. The tub, roof, battery pack, and everything else is one single piece of carbon fiber. Composed of 2200 carbon sheets and 222 aluminum inserts, it’s not only incredibly stiff but weighs just 441 lbs.
In the real world, where there are bends, speed limits, other traffic, and seemingly infinite people taking pictures of the whirring car as it passes by, you might expect the Nevera to be soulless. Having nailed hypercar speed, has it managed to be an exciting car for the road? Yes, thankfully. While you don’t hear the gentle thrum of liquefied pterodactyls exploding, the car’s motors and inverters give off a pleasing EV hum that gets louder as you press on. In the pre-production car, there were a few noises and creaks that Rimac plans to fix, but it was largely a quiet, smooth experience.
Overtaking, once you’ve got over the fact you’re driving a wide, €2 million hypercar representing a decent fraction of Croatia’s all-time automotive production, is not as easy as you think. You see, if you pin the throttle, you’ll simply vanish into the distance. You need to recalibrate how you drive. Increase the flow of electrons by ten percent and you’ll whoosh by. Twenty percent and you’ll pick up a decent clip. Thirty gets you full-bore supercar pace. Anything more than that and you’re either talented, brave, or hugely optimistic that nothing’s coming around the next bend… three miles away.
Rethinking how you use the “fast” pedal, for it is neither noisy nor gassy, means you can one-pedal drive to an extent provisioning you work with the brake regen. That kind of thing isn’t out of place in a BMW i3, but here it feels a little strange.
Give it some beans on a twisty road and the Nevera is just as enjoyable as anything coming out of Germany, Italy, or France. The steering flows wonderfully from corner to corner, the power appears in a linear fashion as you go. You can hurl the car around bends with ease, as quick as you dare. On the public highway you’re nowhere near reaching its limits. You’d have to work pretty hard on track as well, judging by a brief play.
Thanks to all-wheel torque vectoring, each wheel measures what’s going on and adjusts torque delivery on the fly to keep you going in the right direction, physics allowing. Even at speed it feels safe, secure, and exciting. It’ll corner as flat as you like, the body moving only if you accelerate or brake heavily.
Rimac’s acutely aware that some customers will want to take their Neveras around a circuit, and that they may not want company coming along with them. Therefore an AI driver coach is available to pop an overlay of the track on the car’s infotainment screen and talk you round. Some tracks come pre-loaded, but Rimac says that if your favorite course is not there, you need only drive a couple of laps and the car will know what to do. What a race car driver would make of all this remains to be seen.
There are a few drive modes to choose from. Comfort will keep things smooth; Sport sharpens throttle, springs, brakes, and steering; Drift sends more power to the rears to help it kick the ass out; Range isn’t hard to guess; Track sets everything to angry and lets you play; and two customizable modes let you change the car to your will. Want to have a front-wheel biased heavy-steering hard-spring car? Feel free, you weirdo. Seeing as the Nevera is largely software-based, it makes sense that there’s so much choice. The change between each mode is quick and noticeable; no matter where you’re at, it’ll shift, and just how urgently is up to you. The only thing missing is an exhaust valve opening.
The car’s active aero works with the modes as well. Underfloor trickery aids airflow and downforce, while the active wing is a thing of many tricks; it can be set up to offer huge downforce, to nestle into the body of the car for high speed runs by giving it a 0.28 drag coefficient, or anything in between. It’ll also do the classic hypercar trick of acting as an airbrake.
While you’d expect to see an engine in the rear mirror, you instead get a limited view of the 100-liter luggage space and a sliver of sky. For parking, Rimac isn’t relying on its customers’ proficiency in using The Force; there are cameras on each side of the car to help guide you, just the kind of stuff you’d hope a hypercar would have.
The Nevera can be as easy to drive as your daily beater or as hardcore as anyone would wish, though Rimac says it’s more grand tourer than track monster. There aren’t many track monsters that can match its pace, though.
Speed, quick recharge, and ease of use are all huge boxes ticked. And the Nevara certainly comes with drama. Not the kind that an internal combustion hypercar offers, but something different. New noises, different sensations, and greater urgency are all there for you to enjoy. Pretty much everything about this car was made in-house by Rimac, freed of stringent budgets. Seeing as Rimac’s main business is developing EV solutions for OEMs all over the world, this car is a rolling demonstration of what can be done when the leash comes off.
Electric cars are coming, and the Rimac Nevera is proof that we needn’t be worried about them. In fact, we should be looking forward greedily to what comes next. A lucky 150 people will get the keys to one of these starting later this year, and they’ll be in something truly special: The most advanced, most powerful, quickest car out there. Speed has a new name, and it is Nevera.
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