Pininfarina PF0 takes aim at the hypercar elite with 2020 launch

Six thousand miles away from the glitz of the LA Auto Show, Automobili Pininfarina has just revealed the first official pictures of its PF0 electric hypercar

AutoClassics was one of the first publications invited to Pininfarina SpA in Turin and - when we could finally drag ourselves away from the Ferrari P6 Prototype, Lancia Florida II, Sigma Grand Prix car and Pininfarina Sergio - view the prototype. That’s the thing…even standing in the foyer or enjoying a fleeting visit, it’s impossible to not be enraptured by this cathedral to car design, nor overstate its importance.

Design is a language, just like English or Italian, that can express the intrinsic characteristics of an object and the values it offers. For decades, Pininfarina seems to have grasped that understanding better than anybody else. Now approaching its 90th year, it’s not just design but technology that offers Pininfarina the opportunity to take a quantum leap.

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This, fellow gearheads, is why Automobili Pininfarina now exists, with a mission to define the future of the hypercar. We know it can be all too easy to get cynical about yet another two-million-dollar plaything designed for a select few high net worth enthusiasts, collectors and damn speculators, but this endeavour feels different. Different, not in a ‘is-that-from-the-Jetsons-or-a-McLaren-Speedtail?’ kind of way, but different in terms of the brand’s entire philosophy.

Automobili Pininfarina design boss Luca Borgogno explains it as ‘Pura’ or expression of purity. Purity of design, of beauty and of rarity. He certainly has the latter attribute licked: just 150 examples of the PF0 will go on sale globally, with allocations of 50 units going to the USA, Europe and Asia. After an initial VIP viewing at this year’s Pebble Beach, Borgogno informs us that most of the American allocation is already sold. Typical.

Yet from where we’re standing, it’s easy to see why. Automobili Pininfarina may have only revealed official images of the new badge and low-slung rear end with the wraparound light graphic, but the entire design is fluid, cohesive, clean and unadorned by huge spoilers or splitters.

Even a quick perch in the VR cockpit reveals a surprisingly spacious, driver-centric cabin, with a narrow sill, split-level dashboard and two large, fixed touchscreens that frame the steering wheel: the left screen features your core driver functions, while navigation and multimedia settings are located on the right. Until its official reveal at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, you’ll just have to take our word for it.

Pininfarina has quite the back catalogue to work from and it shows here. There are modern references of the 1965 Dino Berlinetta Speciale in the single light strip that adorns the assertive front end. There are even shades of the wonderfully daring 512S Berlinetta in the way the body sculpts air around its sides.

From the pictures, you may notice that there’s considerably more body enveloping the rear, especially when compared to conventionally powered hypercars like the McLaren Senna, and that’s because electric cars don’t require as much cooling. You may not notice the charging port, that will be located somewhere between that break in the rear spoiler. Overall, it looks technical. It looks quick.

It is quick. Thanks to the support of its key financial backer, Mahindra, and a new partnership with emerging technology powerhouse Rimac Automobili, the all-electric powertrain is on target to help the PF0 possess a range of 450kms and hit 0-100kph (62mph) in sub two seconds or 0-300kph in sub 12 seconds. That’s quicker than the claimed 12.8 seconds of the newly released McLaren Speedtail and almost as barmy as the company’s development roadmap.

With the PF0 scheduled to go on sale in 2020 (coinciding with Pininfarina’s 90th anniversary), that leaves the team less than two years to establish sales, marketing, distribution and branding, not to mention prepare a further three cars for launch by 2023.

Automobili Pininfarina CEO Michael Perschke appears unfazed. 'Auto 4.0 is not about factories, it’s about agility. Time to market is critical and now is our time,' he explains with the required determination and passion to win.

Fortunately, the chief test driver vacancy has already been filled by former Formula 1 and Formula E driver, Nick Heidfeld. 'My target is to make the car a lot of fun to drive, but the lasting impression will be the acceleration. I still vividly remember my first test in an F1 car at Silverstone, but this has more than 1000hp so it’s even quicker than an F1 car.'

When AutoClassics pushes Heidfeld on the PF0’s noise characteristics, he concedes 'We don’t want to use synthetic sounds like other manufacturers,' he states. 'We’re very keen the driver can hear the real mechanical sounds taking place.' In many ways, this is music to our ears.

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