For passionate gearheads with money to burn.
There are brands that we all dream to own one day. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche. But there a very lucky few who are able to aspire to something even greater. Catering to the needs of car collectors and society's elite are the so-called boutique supercar makers. Pagani and Koenigsegg are the best-known among the handful of low volume sellers, having managed to survive in this notoriously cut-throat industry. But there's one carmaker that's been on our radar for a few years now that's worthy of more attention: Mazzanti Automobili.
You may not have heard of Mazzanti, yet the Italian carmaker has been around for over a decade and is currently working on its third model. The firm's atelier is based in Pontedera, a short drive from Pisa, of leaning tower fame. Just five cars are hadcrafted each year, built to order, sourcing components from leading automotive companies, with its latest creation the Evantra Millecavalli emerging as Italy's most powerful supercar. We recently had the chance to visit the small factory, where the first customer "1,000 horses" Millecavalli was in the midst of being constructed, a stunning blue and gold Evantra 771 was on show, and the 750-horsepower Evantra is currently undergoing a series of road tests as it nears completion.
The morning we arrived, new software for the six-speed robotized gearbox had just come in that had to be tested on the prototype. So with Niccolo Englaro, Mazzanti's marketing boss, piloting the car, we went for a spin in beautiful Tuscany, the low slung, mid-engined aggressive Italian with its wailing V8 turning heads and stunning the locals. In styling the Evantra, company founder Luca Mazzanti wanted to find a balance between classical and modern. Timeless fender lines combine with modern LED light graphics while aggressive detailing adorns the smooth surfaces. Open the company's signature dual suicide doors and the coach built interior is all leather, Alcantara and carbon fiber.
A new infotainment system currently being custom made in the Netherlands will also eliminate the need of any buttons, enhancing its sophisticated feel. Apart from, that is, the Tricolore start buttons that sit above the driver. Mirroring the colors of the Italian flag, the green button primes the pumps and other devices, akin to the first tick of the key. The red key fires up the GM-sourced 7.0-liter naturally aspirated V8, while the white button shuts everything down. Racing seats form part of a new interior layout, and while they remain ideally suited to the track (like the car itself) my six-foot frame was comfortable enough when cruising through town and whipping around the country lanes.
The Evantra will have up to twelve settings, adjusting the suspension, gearbox and throttle response according to pre-determined levels. Currently, the car can switch between Strada and Corsa, but for the purposes of analysis, the prototype's custom gearbox was in race mode. Data from our drive was later poured over by the team's engineers and sent to the Bologna-based transmission manufacturer, Cima. Given the Evantra puts down 634 lb-ft of torque, Mazzanti opted to use a company specializing in race car gearboxes. There is still work to be done on making the Evantra a useable street car, but with Loris Bicocchi working on setting up the car, we have no doubt it will drive like a dream.
Having cut his teeth at Lamborghini in the mid-seventies, where he remained as production car tester until 1989, the Italian test driver helped develop the Pagani Zonda, the Koenigsegg CCX, and has been the go-to man for Bugatti, developing the EB110, Veyron and more recently the Chiron. The man known in the industry as 'King Midas' is now the R&D Manager and official tester for Mazzanti. Weighing in at around 1,350 kg, with a short 2.5-meter wheelbase, the Evantra already possess amazing agility and with a 47:53 front-rear weight distribution feels very well balanced and planted on the road. And then there's the noise. Being mid-engine, the 7.0-liter lump sits directly behind the cockpit – no need for a rear-view mirror here.
Pop the large rear hood and you're greeted with a decent size trunk along with copper-painted suspension arms, matching the exposed subframe between the rear diffuser and central twin-exhaust, and a transparent engine cover, providing visual access to the heart of the Italian beast. Loud, visceral, with typical V8 burbles and growls, coupled with what sounds like turbos spooling up thanks to the air intake on the roof sucking in air right above your head, the engine provides an aural feast for the ears from standstill to top gear. After parking up for a few pictures and a swift espresso in the beautiful surrounds of Castelalfi, we headed back to the factory for a debrief.
Niccolo was tasked with maintaining constant rpms for testing purposes, but a tap of the right foot and a couple of clicks of the paddle shifters sent us hurtling down the road, overtaking up to four cars in a blink of an eye. There's no plans to fit a fully automatic transmission to the car. There have been no customer requests for one either. Mazzanti wants owners to be engaged when driving the Evantra. It's a special event driving a car that will be made in such limited numbers, crafted by artisans, set up the best in the supercar business, carrying a million-dollar price tag. In a few months' time we hope to return to Tuscany and get behind the wheel of this fabulous car before its lucky new owner takes delivery.