Motoroids is among a handful of media around the globe that tested the ultra limited series Zerouno supercar built by Italdesign in Torino, Italy. Α WOW driving experience by all means!
Text & photos: Akis Temperidis
With a price tag equivalent of 1,5 million euros pre-tax (13 crores Indian rupees!), the ZeroUno is definitely one of the most expensive cars ever manufactured. It belongs in a narrow league together with limited-series hypercars such as the LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 or hand-made exotics like the Pagani Huayra and the Bugatti Chiron.
What exactly is the ZeroUno?
It is the first ultra-limited series car built by Italdesign Automobili Speciali, the brand created in 2017 by the most influential design centre in automobile history, based at the outskirts of Turin, in Italy. According to the project, only five were built and sold to car collectors around the world – each one literally unique – so you will hardly see them outside a Concours d’Elegance or Goodwood Festival of Speed event. The #0 prototype we drove was used as a test car during the development phase.
It was in 2016 when Italdesign German CEO Joerg Astalosch took the green light from Audi (Italdesign is its subsidiary since 2010) for the development of a one-off supercar. Nine months later, the first white-coloured Zerouno – which means “Zero One” in Italian – made its debut at the Geneva Motorshow. It was destined for a Belgian car collector and was immediately a sensation. Thanks to it, Nissan contracted Italdesign to manufacture its GT-R50 in 50 units to celebrate the 50 years of the most iconic Japanese sports car.
Italdesign is considered a master in car design since 1968 but it was never a car manufacturer on its own. 40 years ago it manufactured the BMW M1 and more recently it builds pre-series Audi models – like the Q2 – but is famous for its designs rather than for its manufacturing skills.
So the Italians designed a new brand first and patented it. Italdesign Automobili Speciali (“Italdesign Special Cars”) was born with a dynamic logo featuring a stylized bull’s head. The prancing bull is the symbol of the city of Turin but the designers skipped the idea of fitting the original logo because it would seem like mocking the iconic Ferrari prancing horse emblem.
What lies beneath the exotic body
The ZeroUno Is not built by Italdesign from scratch. Underneath its spectacular bodywork is hidden the powertrain of the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan, which is developed around a modular chassis in carbon fibre and aluminium. The mid-mounted aspirated V10 5.2-litre engine is capable of 610bhp @ 8,250 rpm and 560 Nm of peak torque @ 6,500 rpm.
The power is transmitted to all four wheels via a state-of-the-art 7 speed dual clutch gear box. Thanks to the extended use of carbon fibre, the weignt of the car is 170 kg lower than that of its Audi and Lamborghini siblings. ZeroUno is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h in 3.2 seconds and reaching 330 km/h top as it was proved in rigorous high-speed tests at the Nardo oval circuit during its development.
So the question that might come to your mind might be: why is the ZeroUno is so expensive to buy since it is built around an existing platform?
Well, first keep in mind that the car was conceived and designed to be built in five only units. Which means that all the R&D costs had to be divided to five. According to Italdesign, the project doesn’t make any profit but is considered a tool for promoting the styling, design, engineering prototyping and manufacturing capabilities of the design centre. “This is the best way to show what Italdesign is capable of” says Filippo Perini, the designer of most modern-day Lamborghinis, who was recruited as chief designer at Italdesign few years ago.
Imagine the thousands of working hours needed to design the unique body, engineer its compatibility with the chassis, simulate and test its aerodynamic performance and homologate every single part that didn’t exist in a Lamborghini Huracan or an Audi R8. The dna of the ZeroUno provides also the highest possible standards of passive safety and reliability.
A collector’s item to drive hard!
The looks of the car are mesmerizing. The cab-forward body is like a jet fighter on four wheels. It is 40 cm longer than the Huracan, for more functional than aesthetic reasons. The thorough aerodynamic study of the bodywork has dramatically increased the car downforce while keeping the drag coefficient as low as possible and ensuring the much-needed ventilation of engine, transmission, brakes and electronics.
The ZeroUno, with all its fins, spoilers, louvres, air splitters and diffusers, looks more like a GT3 racing car ready to tackle the 24 hours of Le Mans than a road-legal supercar that it is. It also features different cues inspired by a modern F1 car, like the wide duct under the front bonnet and the side badge boards. Like it or not it is sensational and prepares you for what you should expect when you seat behind its wheel.
So, how does it feel to drive a 1,5 million euros supercar on public roads?
At first hand, being invited to test a car so unique and so expensive bears a certain psychological weight but curiously enough, since you push the start button and give life to the roaring V10 right behind your back, you forget everything. The multi-coloured virtual cockpit is a unique feature of the car – it was actually redesigned in Turin purposely for the ZeroUno.
Besides the huge, digital rev-counter with its red zone starting at 8500 rpm the cockpit can be altered according to your choices. I preferred the one with the “potenza” (power) and “coppia” (torque) gauges on the right side and with the tyres temperatures and pressures on the left. On the flattened steering wheel you can control the infotainment system but also select a different driving mode, de-activate the ESP and open the exhaust valves if you prefer an even more thrilling engine soundtrack.
Starting from Moncalieri I was encouraged by my Italian hosts to drive as hard as I wanted the ZeroUno and this is what I did. “Beware of the radars only” I was advised, so I never tried to verify the monster’s top speed. The ZeroUno is deafingly noisy but feels so secure and natural at such speeds!
During that crisply sunny day, I was also set free to play with the car at the narrow, twisty roads of Langhe, the wine-rich region in the outskirts of Turin, either alone in the cockpit or with press officer Umberto Giorio on my side. Franco Bay was following from a certain distance in a red Audi S4 with Ingolstadt – the Audi hometown – plates. This man is the Italdesign Head of Communications and one of the spiritual fathers of the ZeroUno.
My impressions? Well, this is a breathtakingly fast but also easy car to drive and it works in perfection. The chassis is stiff but absorbing and the suspension works great on the road imperfections in a way I could judge it as comfortable. The carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes with 6-piston callipers are sensational for the immediate, linear feeling when cold and for their enormous braking power when they get boiling hot from any speed.
The low weight and the chassis balance are the two major assets of the ZeroUno. You can really trust the car and its purposely developed 20-inch Pirelli PZero tyres to the absolute limits, or at least to your absolute driving limits on open Italian roads! You can’t feel any understeer and you can hardly provoke
Here is a video depicting how the Italdesign ZeroUno was created
The company was created 50 years ago by the “Designer of the Century” – aka Giorgetto Giugiaro and a bright engineer, Aldo Mantovani. In the years that followed Italdesign established itself as the most influential design center in the world.
More than 200 models have been designed in its premises in Moncalieri – a suburb of Turin in northern Italy. Many of them have starred worldwide becoming best sellers. Some of these cars actually rewrote automobile history of the automobile, from the Alfasud (first FWD Alfa Romeo) and the VW Gold Mk1 to supercars like the Lotus Esprit, the BMW M1 and the Maserati MC12, highly popular models like the Lancia Delta, Fiat Panda, Uno, Punto and Daewoo Matiz, as well as some eye-opening, futuristic and always drivable concept cars. Even the iconic DeLorean featured in the “Back to the Future” film is an Italdesign concept.
In 2010, Giorgetto Giugiaro decided to sell 90% of his company to VW and Italdesign became a subsidiary of Audi in the same period with Lamborghini and Ducati. Giugiaro was a good friend and mentor of Ferdinand Piech, chairman of VW.
50 YEARS ITALDESIGN
Italdesign was created in1968 by Giorgetto Giugiaro –ex Bertone car designer – and Aldo Mantovani. Member of the VW group since 2010. Its HQ cover 67.000 sq.mt. area in Moncalieri, Italy incliding 2 design centrers, two virtual reality rooms, 900 design stations (CAS, CAD, CAE, CAM), 10 digitally controlled milling machines, 3 robots for laser cutting, two laser for chassis welding. Italdesign has a work… of around 200 million euros per year with a personell of over 1000 people. CEO id German manager Jorg Astaloch, while Filippo Perini is head of design.
ItalDesign ZeroUno Image Gallery