Puritalia's AI-powered Berlinetta super-hybrid heads to the UK for Salon Privé
Italy's Puritalia Automobili is bringing its classy Berlinetta hybrid supercar out to Salon Privé at England's Blenheim Palace. This 965-hp (720-kW), 1,248-Nm (920-lb-ft), 208-mph (335-km/h) supercharged monster, with its artificially intelligent driving modes, is going on sale, with only 150 to be built.
Puritalia is a relatively new company, kicking off in 2010 with the dream of building classically styled, ruthlessly quick supercars using modern technologies but with an aesthetic and feel reminiscent of the great supercars of the past. The Berlinetta made its first public appearance at Geneva earlier this year, and while it might've been swamped in a deluge of hyper-machinery at the time, it warrants a closer look.
Where many cars around this performance level tend towards extreme racy styling, Puritalia has gone for an approach closer to Maserati's – class over show. That's not to say it looks slow – far from it. But there's no giant showy rear wings, and the form language of the full carbon bodywork is smooth and rounded, with the emphasis on beauty over extreme aeros. From pretty much any angle, it's a beautifully proportioned car with plenty of details to enjoy, some subtle and others more forthright.
The chassis features a carbon fiber tub, with aluminum subframes. Up front is a 5-liter, 32-valve, supercharged V8. Blown at a constant 11 PSI of boost and liquid-intercooled, this Euro 6-compliant combustion engine makes a meaty 750 hp (559 kW) at 7,000 rpm and 878 Nm (648 lb-ft) of torque, and contributes nice details like the meshed-over hood scoop, and side- and rear-mounted exhaust exits to the look of the car.
To balance the weight of the car, the seven-speed paddle-shift automated manual transmission is moved back behind the cabin and fed by a carbon fiber driveshaft.
Any slight interruptions to power delivery during gear changes are thoroughly dealt with by a secondary electric powertrain, which nestles in around the transmission in the back. A Yasa axial-flux electric motor stands ready to feed 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) of torque to the rear axles at any time, contributing as much as 215 hp (160 kW) at its peak. It's tuned to kick in extra power whenever the main transmission clutch is open, and features a clutch system of its own, so the electric motor can be completely disengaged from the wheels whenever it might be dragging a little on the final output.
The battery capacity is quite small, two packs totaling 5.2 kWh, but they're enough to give you 12.4 miles (20 km) of silent, modest, all-electric commuting around town. The packs are split so they can be used to provide high current draws in parallel when one's gumboot is lowered. No fewer than 10 radiators, mounted all around the car, work to pull heat from the gasoline and electric drivetrains, the intercooler, transmission, differential and the inverter.
There are four driving modes balancing the output from the two powertrains, as well as things like throttle response and suspension activity. The most interesting is "Superhybrid" mode, which uses a cloud-based "Purhydrive" system to dynamically process information like weather conditions, traffic data, the route you're driving on, your state of charge, your current driving behavior and your typical driving style. With all this in hand, the system can pre-determine what your likely braking, turning and acceleration points will be for the road you're on, and set everything from the gear you're in to the suspension parameters to give you exactly what it thinks you'll want.
This goes so far as to track the suspension's motion for each wheel, so that the system can learn exactly what bumps and dips are coming up on a road you've driven before – or indeed, that any other Puritalia driver has driven. The Purhydrive system uses artificial intelligence algorithms to continue improving itself over time, and Puritalia sees it, and the data it generates, as a key asset moving forward.
Through the same internet connection, the company is able to roll out instant updates and fixes for any electronically controlled module in the car. All configurable settings that are available through the touchscreen are thus also available through a mobile app, and there's remote diagnostics and online assistance from the factory in case of any issues.
The interior ... well, it's a bit louder and brasher than the exterior. A colorful digital dash and generous 10-inch touchscreen take center stage, and where most supercars tend to have super-racy, low-slung seats you need to shoehorn yourself into, the Berlinetta offers as much leg room as a typical sedan, with comfy, sportish Sabelt seats and plenty of headroom for tall drivers.
Only 150 will be built. Each will be built by hand in Italy, heavily customized to each customer, with prices starting at €465,000 (US$515,000), but there'll be different pricing per region and no two cars will share the same spec, so it's really just a starting point. Buyers will have to qualify themselves as suitable "Puritalia Ambassadors" to get the chance to plonk down their cash, so be sure to bump up your Instagram numbers before you call, or something.
The UK will get its first chance to gaze upon the Berlinetta at Salon Privé, one of the automotive calendar's perennial red-letter days in early September, and those deemed worthy of potential ownership will get a chance to test drive the thing on British roads after the show.
The video below provides a taste of the Berlinetta hybrid supercar.