MALIBU, Calif. – The most amazing thing about the $2.1 million Rimac Nevera is how easy it is to just get in and drive.
The Nevera is an electric hypercar from Croatia. It sits low – very low – to the ground, and at first glance it seems like just getting in might be complicated. But the doors, which lift a bit like a Lamborghini’s, cut through the roof just enough to ensure I don’t hit my head when I plop into the driver’s seat.
Getting started requires a bit of learning. Gears are changed with a large button to the left of the steering wheel, power seat settings are hidden in a touchscreen, and switches for the turn signals and headlights are mounted directly on the steering wheel. But once you get the hang of it, it’s simple to use.
The whole car is like that – simple to use – despite its 1,914 horsepower.
One of the first things I noticed at the start of the trip was how easy it was to see from Nevera. It’s not easy with cars like this. For example, in Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other low-slung road rockets, it’s often difficult to see what’s behind you. But while the Nevera is definitely low, there’s just enough rear window to make highway driving easier. Good exterior mirrors certainly help.
There’s also just enough mechanical noise to remind you that you’re in a hypercar. There may be no engine, but there are four electric motors that make gentle mechanical sounds as the car moves down the road. Not so loud that I couldn’t converse with my passenger, Ryan Lanteigne of Rimac, in a reasonable voice. It’s just loud enough to remind us that we’re driving something special.
And the Nevera is very special indeed – as it should be for its asking price of just over $2 million. You’ll see why in the video.
The story of Rimac
Rimac – roughly pronounced REE-mahtz – is Croatia’s first and only car manufacturer. Its founder, Mate (MAH-ta) Rimac, 35, started tinkering with electric vehicles after blowing the engine of an old BMW he drove as a teenager. After rebuilding it with an electric drivetrain – and winning a few races to boot – he founded Rimac Automobili in 2009, hoping to one day build an electric supercar in his home country.
Even though Rimac’s early years were rocky, Mate’s timing proved excellent in retrospect as automakers around the world worked to electrify their fleets.
Rimac’s early prototypes were impressive enough to attract significant investment from Hyundai and Porsche, and they raised an additional 500 million euros (or about $534 million) last year. These served as the basis for what is now a thriving commercial consultancy business with traditional automakers wanting to build high-performance electric vehicles. Aston Martin and Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg are among Rimac’s customers, along with a number of others that the company says it cannot disclose at this time.
Nevera owes its name to the violent summer storms that sweep over Croatia from the Adriatic Sea. (Rimac employees like to say that Neveras – storms – are “extremely powerful and charged by lightning,” just like their car.)
The Nevera (the car) serves as both a demonstration of Rimac’s EV expertise and the supercar that Mate Rimac has long dreamed of building. It’s a four-motor design – one for each wheel – with a 120 kilowatt-hour battery, giving a range of around 300 miles under normal driving conditions.
Four engines and a tie
But there’s nothing normal about the Nevera’s power output. These four engines give it a total of 1,914 horsepower and 2,360 Newton-meters of torque, enough for a top speed of 258 miles per hour. Zero to 60 miles per hour takes just 1.74 seconds, according to Rimac.
I haven’t verified this time with great precision, but I can attest that such a power surge is plausible. As friendly as it is to drive in traffic, the Nevera is almost impossibly fast when fully uncorked. But it never feels out of control, and that’s a significant technical achievement.
Even more impressive, although more subtle, is how these four engines work together. The car’s systems adjust the power output of each engine 100 times per second to ensure optimal handling at all times. Or, in other words, the Nevera goes through and out of tight corners without hesitation. It’s a trick that other supercars can only imitate with braking.
That’s an even more impressive ride considering the car’s weight, about 5,100 pounds. But as difficult as it may seem, this weight is packed so well, with the batteries mounted low and near the center of the Nevera, that it’s barely noticeable. (Of course, the enormous power available helps.)
It’s also a beautiful car, low and radical but not over-the-top. Civilized. It’s well made, with crisp carbon fiber on the exterior and comfortable leather throughout the interior. Croatia has no tradition of car manufacturing, but the Nevera reflects a certain national pride: in addition to the car’s name, the air intakes on its sides are designed to resemble a tie, the ancestor of the modern tie — a Croatian invention dating back to the 16th century.
The Nevera starts at 2 million euros, or a little over $2.1 million. If it’s in your price range, talk about it soon. Rimac says it plans to build just 150 of them.