Carmen electric: Spanish car maker's blast from the past pins future on $1.7m supercar

Hispano Suiza is trying to muscle in on a supercar glut with something retro-futuristic

A Spanish car maker, once the marque of choice for dictator Francisco Franco, has roared back from obscurity with a $1.7 million electric supercar.

The general triumphantly entered Madrid at the end of Spanish Civil War riding in a Hispano Suiza in 1939 - and that is pretty much where the story ended for this pre-war auto and aero engineering firm.

Devastated by the economic effects of trade embargos and World War Two, the automotive arm joined up with banks and other firms and consolidated in what is today SEAT - the Iberian country's only mass-production car maker.

Fast-forward 80 years though and the 115-year-old brand from Barcelona has debuted the electric Carmen - a $1.7 million supercar - at the Geneva International Motor Show.

The 1,0005hp Carmen, named in honour of the granddaughter of founder Damián Mateu, has a maximum power outage of 503bhp and runs 0-100kph under three seconds.

Decent enough in a crowded segment, so it's relying on its quirky looks to charm.

Based on the 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6C Dubonnet Xenia, the Carmen has doe-eyed headlights, which look almost apologetic.

The closed off rear-wheels that swoop to the tail give it a big-bum feel of some 1930s vehicles.

Inside, it looks to take some riffs from a luxury tourer - brown-stitched leather interiors and whiffs of mahogany with the LED touch-screen console.

Just 19 will be made.

Perhaps it's a more go-slow offering for the segment - at 250kph top speed, it's slower and more sluggish than the Pininfarina Battista and Koenigsegg Regera, with the latter boasting 400kph with the driver's foot to the floor.

At 400km, the Carmen's charge range is also short of the Battista, which promises to run 450km of range on one charge.

The Tesla Model 3 range is about 500km.

Under the exterior is some hefty lithium-ion batteries giving it a weighty 1,690kg - not bad for an electric supercar.

The first test drives of the Carmen will take place this autumn, with deliveries scheduled to start in June 2020.

Updated: March 6, 2019 08:43 PM


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