Italian design house-turned-automaker Pininfarina has made a lot of noise about the silent Battista hypercar in recent months, but it knows it can't build a brand on a single halo model manufactured in strictly limited numbers.
The second car it will release will be an upmarket electric SUV scheduled to make its debut as a design study in August 2020. We got an early preview of it at the company's headquarters; we're not allowed to publish photos yet but we can tell you a little bit about what we saw.
Pininfarina calls the project PF1 internally, it named the concept that will preview it "Pura Vision," but it wants nothing to do with the term "SUV." Everyone in the company refers to the high-riding model as a sustainable luxury utility vehicle (SLUV), an initialism that summons memories of an Isuzu-designed pickup sold by Chevrolet as a captive import from 1972 to 1982 in America.
Regardless of what you call it, Pininfarina's next new model blends the ground clearance of a crossover with grand tourer-like proportions characterized by a long hood, steeply-raked A-pillars, and short overhangs. Luca Borgogno, Pininfarina's head of design, cited the award-winning, Pininfarina-designed Cisitalia 202 released in 1947 as a major source of inspiration.
Pininfarina Battista prototype
Cisitalia shut down in 1963, and no one has revived it—yet. Exploring even lower depths of this obscure Italian rabbit hole brings us to the one-of-a-kind 1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 Superflow and its glass roof. Pininfarina adopted that solution for the Pura Vision, the only sheet metal above its belt line is the windshield frame, and it's working with a supplier it's not ready to name yet to bring it to production. The thin metal frame the panel is mounted on protects the occupants in the event of a rollover, so firm isn't worried about getting the SUV through a crash test, and sunlight-reflecting glass will ensure the cabin doesn't turn into a Crock-Pot.
Pininfarina Pura Vision
Davide Amantea, Pininfarina's head of exterior design, told me the Pura Vision concept is "extremely close to production." It will arrive as a four-door five-seater with up to 1,000 horsepower from an electric powertrain whose full specifications haven't been dialed in yet. It will ride on a modular platform developed jointly with suppliers, and, to settle earlier rumors, it will share precisely zero parts with Rivian's R1T and R1S models. It will boast a three-second sprint from zero to 60 mph, a 186-mph top speed, and up to 341 miles of range (on the WLTP testing cycle) in its most powerful configuration. It's too early to tell whether slower, cheaper PF1 variants will also be part of the range, but company CEO Michael Perschke pledged to build smaller models on the PF1's modular platform in the medium-term future, in part to offset the huge investment required to develop it.
Pininfarina will introduce the Pura Vision concept on the sidelines of the 2020 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Production should begin in 2022 in a new facility located on the outskirts of Turin, Italy, though the company warned it hasn't selected a site yet, let alone purchased it and transformed it into a manufacturing hub.
The cost for the new luxury utility will be in the vicinity of €300,000 (about $330,000), a figure that will put it in direct competition with the high-riding Ferrari Purosangue also expected to arrive in 2022 and the electric Lagonda soft-roader that Aston Martin delayed until 2025. Amantea hinted at a volume of less than 10,000 units over the model's production run.
—By Ronan Glon, for Motor Authority