MALIBU, Calif. – The most amazing thing about the $2.1 million Rimac Niviera is how easy it is to ride and drive.
Nievera is an electric supercar from Croatia. It is very low to the ground, and at first glance it seems that just getting in could be complicated. But the doors, which rise in and out like a Lamborghini, cut off the roof just enough to ensure I don’t hit my head when I drop myself into the driver’s seat.
Getting started requires a little learning. Gears are shifted with a large knob to the left of the steering wheel, power seat adjustments are hidden in a touchscreen, and switches for the turn signals and headlights are mounted directly on the steering wheel. But once you’re done, it’s easy to operate.
The whole car is just that – easy to operate – despite its 1,914 horsepower.
One of the first things I noticed when we started working was that it was easy to see outside of Nevera. That’s not a given with cars like this. For example, in Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other low-slung highway cruisers, it’s often difficult to see what’s behind you. But while the Niviera is certainly low, there’s enough of a rear window to make driving in motorway traffic easier. Good side mirrors definitely help with that.
There’s also enough mechanical noise to remind you that you’re in a supercar. There may not be a motor, but there are four electric motors that make nice mechanical sounds as the car moves down the road. Not so loud that I couldn’t talk to my passenger, Rimac’s Ryan Lantin, in a reasonable voice. It’s loud enough to remind us that we’re driving something special.
The Niviera is very special indeed – as it should be at just over $2 million. And you’ll see why in the video.
Rimac – roughly pronounced REE-mahtz – is Croatia’s first and only automaker. Its founder, Matty (MAH-ta) Rimac, 35, started repairing electric cars after he blew the engine of an old BMW he raced as a teenager. After rebuilding it with an electric motor – and winning a few races – he founded Rimac Automobili in 2009, hoping to one day build an electric supercar in his homeland.
Although the company’s early years were difficult, Mate’s timing has turned out to be excellent in retrospect, as automakers around the world move to electrify their fleets.
Rimac’s prototypes were impressive enough to attract major investments from Hyundai and Porsche, and it raised another 500 million euros (or about $534 million) last year. That served as the foundation for what is now a thriving business consultancy for traditional automakers eager to build high-performance electric vehicles. Aston Martin and Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg are among Rimac’s clients, along with a number of others that the company says it cannot yet reveal.
The Nefera River was named after the severe summer storms that hit Croatia from the Adriatic Sea. (Rimac employees like to say that the Nievera storms—“extremely powerful and lightning-charged,” just like their car.)
The Nevera (the car) serves as a renewed showcase of Rimac’s electric vehicle expertise and as the supercar that Mate Rimac has always dreamed of building. It’s a four-motor design – one for each wheel – with a 120-kilowatt-hour battery, enough for about 300 miles under normal driving conditions.
But there is nothing natural about energy production on Nevera. These four engines give it a total of 1,914 hp and 2,360 Nm of torque, which is enough for a top speed of 258 mph. Zero to 60 mph takes just 1.74 seconds, according to Rimac.
I have not investigated it at the time with any great accuracy, but I can attest that such a push is reasonable. Although friendly when driving in traffic, the Niviera is almost unbelievably quick when fully open. But it never feels out of control, which is a major engineering feat.
Even more impressive, if more subtle, is the way these four engines work together. The car’s systems adjust the power output of each engine 100 times per second to ensure optimal handling from one moment to the next. Or to put it another way, the Nevera blasts in and out of tight corners without hesitation. This is a trick that other supercars can only replicate using brakes.
It’s an even more impressive trick considering the car’s roughly 5,100-pound curb weight. But it’s hard to believe that this weight is so well packed, with the batteries mounted so low and close to the center of Nevera, that it’s hardly noticeable. (Of course, the sheer power that can be harnessed helps.)
It’s a good-looking car too, low and radical but not over the top. civilized. It’s well made, with flawless carbon fiber on the outside and comfortable leather throughout the interior. Croatia has no car-building tradition, but the Nievera reflects some national pride: In addition to the car’s name, the inlets on its sides are designed to resemble a necktie, the predecessor of the modern necktie — a Croatian invention dating back to the 16th century.
The Nevera starts at €2 million, or just over $2.1 million. If this is in your price range, talk soon. Rimac says it plans to build just 150 of them.
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