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Rimac C_Two: “this is our McLaren MP4-12C moment”

Building a car from scratch is really, really quite hard. Just ask Mate Rimac

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A little laugh, and then a sigh. “If you asked me two or three years ago how much money it’d take to develop such a car, I would have been completely wrong.

“I hope I’m not wrong today,” Mate Rimac tells us, a grin on his face. Considering he’s been on media duties for little under two hours straight - and it’s practically the end of the day when TopGear.com talks to him - you’d imagine he’d be exhausted.

He’s not. Even if the whole ‘build a mind-bendingly fast supercar from scratch’ process is, as it turns out, quite exhausting. “The complexity is incredible,” he says, speaking about his upcoming baby, the C_Two.

“Usually, 99 per cent of the time, manufacturers start with an existing platform and change the powertrain. Or start with an existing powertrain. Or both, and just change the design. Look at the last BMW 3 Series. It’s a slight evolution. The C_Two is one of those super-rare instances where absolutely everything is designed from scratch. Nothing is carried over from Concept One.”

Sure, the big ticket items like the chassis and drivetrain (fully electric, quad-motor setup) are new and designed in-house, but “even stuff like pumps, and fans, and special tyres” Mate says. “Very few people have done that.”

Indeed, the ‘people’ he namechecks is as revealing as the bruised, slightly battered C_Two prototype (having just returned from Nardo, no less) sitting just outside; revealing for whom he respects, and whom he feels most closely allied to. People like Pagani. Koenigsegg. McLaren.

“This is a platform for us. It’s a platform for Pininfarina as well. There will be future models heavily based on the C_Two – not to the extent like McLaren did with the MP4-12C, to have so many models based on the same thing. But the philosophy is there.

“This is our 12C moment,” he adds.

He talks about how difficult it is because his company decided to “do things properly”. It’s the difference, say, between “crashing one car and crashing ten cars”. You will no doubt recall the alarming footage of Rimac crash-testing the C_Two.

And as Mate and his team continue to send C_Two prototypes into walls and around circuits, we’re assured that the final car will be different still. “Basically, from the show car that you saw [at Geneva 2018] to this car [aforementioned bruised prototype], not one single part is the same. Not one part.”

He notes how that original Geneva show car was just that – for show. “It looked like a real car but the systems were not developed. From this prototype to the car you’ll see at Geneva next year [the world debut of the production C_Two], again not one single part will be the same.

“It’s iterations. In between these cars, thousands of virtual iterations,” he adds. Principally because, this is the car Mate always wanted to build. “In the beginning I didn’t have the money or the experience or people or time to do it. So the C_Two is what I always wanted to do.”

What about the Concept One, though? “It had many shortcomings,” he says, very matter-of-factly. “It was not homologated. It didn’t have enough cabin space. It didn’t have luggage space. The air con didn’t work properly… a lot of fundamental things. Little bits and pieces.

“I also knew the technology could be pushed much more. I wanted to do a proper car – one that’s easy to get in and out of, with space, that’s safe, reliable and properly designed, developed and tested. And I wanted to raise the bar for performance.”

He’s not so much ticked that last box, more depth-charged it. The C_Two promises some 1,887bhp from its four electric motors, along with 1,696lb ft of torque, 0-62mph in 1.97secs, 0-100mph in 4.3secs a quarter-mile time of less than ten seconds, and a top speed of 258mph.

Mate’s quite happy with these numbers, as you’d imagine. “What we set ourselves in the beginning was pretty hard to reach,” he says, noting how the production car’s stats won’t be any bigger or faster than what’s already been promised. “It’s not just about power, it’s about making it usable and reliable. We need to tick loads of other boxes too, so power will remain the same.”

Power that sits about level with the rush of EV hypercar rivals that are quickly lining up. “I am happy all these cars are coming… but it’s one thing to show something. It’s another thing to build a car. And then another thing to build a good car. Look at how many companies have shown something in Geneva, and disappeared afterwards.

“But on the other side, we always said we work with industry, not against it. There are enough people in the world who want to buy cars like this if they are good. It’s all about execution, not having an idea or a show car.”

We’ll see the final execution of the car Rimac has always wanted to do in March next year.

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