A lot of you either won’t remember, or won’t know what this car is based on, but I’m going to touch on it briefly just because it really is something special. In 1938, a fighter pilot and keen racing driver by the name of Andre Dubonnet conceived what he named the Hispano Suiza Dubonnet Xenia. It had suspension well ahead of its time, a curved windscreen – never done before – and a body shape that relied heavily on aeronautical themes. On its arrival into a pre-World War 2 world, it was obviously quite a shocking and futuristic looking machine.
The Hispano Suiza Carmen works with the same underlying theme, but pushes boundaries even further. not only in design, but in regard to the mantra behind the car. But before we get further into that, let’s first run through some numbers and specs.
It’s an EV, which uses Formula E tech to send 1,005hp to the rear wheels. You can already tell it’s going to be quite the handful. but technical directior Lluc Marti tells us this isn’t a competition so has limited its top speed to 155mph.
“I don’t want to compete with the performance of a Koenigsegg or a Rimac,” he says. “We limit the top speed because we don’t think there’s sense in any more.”
Coming from a man who worked with Koenigsegg for four years on the One:1, this is a punchy statement.
“Even though I came from Koenigsegg this is a dream job. There, we had the old chassis and engine and suspension, here I was given a white sheet of paper and told ‘create the car’. I was like ‘really, I can put everything I’ve learned in this chassis?’”
As well as the talent that comes from Marti, there’s a 40-strong team of people ready to develop the brand that’s been dormant for so long. 70 years is a long time for a brand to stay silent, so they have a real challenge on their hands, but they’re more than willing to put in the time and effort. And it’s not difficult to see where this time and effort has gone so far.
the car is meticulously hand crafted, with a carbon tub at its centre to reduce that all important weight and to add stiffness. But, unlike the likes of Rimac and Pagani, Koenigsegg and Pininfarina, this car isn’t here to break track records or boast 0-60 times. It’s art, and therefore won’t be looking at the Nurburgring and certainly won’t be setting foot on a drag strip.
“It’s been developed in Barcelona at Catalunya, as well as some less busy circuits,” says Marti. Not the Nordschleife? “No, no, no, not at all! We are closer to visiting Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach than the Nürburgring.
“I know where Koenigsegg, Rimac and Pininfarina are in that regard, and it’s a lot for us to achieve in two years. We’re after a new market; collectors mainly and perhaps fewer young people, and instead those who know what Hispano Suiza is.”
So despite its high power and potential, this is a car to drive slowly while admiring its wonderful curves and endless details. And while this may annoy some readers, I’d be more than happy to sit back and have a go.