Pininfarina’s teased us enough, but here it is, finally: the 2012 Cambiano concept gets completely exposed, ahead of its debut in the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. And for all the mystique and allure that rare, expensive, coachbuilt Italian cars hold, what’s underneath comes from more proletarian means. Hey, isn’t that what Italian cars are all about?
In true 21st century Internet-swamped fashion, Pininfarina released the Cambiano concept on Facebook, in case multimillionaires might be convinced to buy the Italian luxury sedan between rounds on Plants vs. Zombies. Pininfarina reportedly drew inspiration from the Lancia Florida II concept of 1957: a staid-looking two-box design by our standards, but a revolution in an age where revolutions came quick and copiously—one that sprung from the pen of company founder Battista “Pinin” Farina himself.
“I wanted to create a strong visual impact into the Cambiano using as few lines as possible, while avoiding any decoration,” said Fabio Filippini, Pininfarina’s chief creative officer.
Certainly some of the subtlety and simplicity of the Florida II finds its way onto the Cambiano, named after the town Pininfarina calls home. The shape is curvy and fluid but pinched at the middle, with admirable restraint throughout. There’s little of the needless fins and “flame surfacing” that seems to corrupt modern car styling these days. A dramatic rear end features a knife spear of a spoiler, jutting out over equally knife-edged taillights. It’s a simple theme that carries over to the fronts, as well, but here it’s less successful: looking like a Challenger’s stretched maw, it’s a pretty generic rendering—perhaps too simple for its own good. A full-length glass roof tops the cabin, and perhaps in the only example of an Italian exotic sharing anything with a Saturn, there’s one door for the driver and two on the passenger side.
Underneath the svelte skin, however, the underpinnings are less seductive. A “diesel hybrid” seems to recall the worst of belching Peterbilts and left-brain rationality of the Toyota Prius—but there it is, a plug-in hybrid with a diesel-powered range extender. Each wheel gets a 60kW electric motor that can jump to 150kW for short period, with a small turbine that recharges the batteries but can also provide drive to the wheels if necessary. All in all, the Pininfarina Cambiano can reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds on its way to 170 miles per hour, though this might impact the supposed 500-mile range a bit.
Seems too good to be true? Well, that’s why it’s a concept; we suspect that despite the styling and the specs, the actual Pininfarina Cambiano doesn’t actually drive anywhere. Regardless, you’ll be able to check it out at the Geneva Motor Show if you’re Switzerland-bound next month. Even if those performance targets are true—and in true Italian fashion, it won’t be cheap—it’ll still be one of the best-looking cars even when it runs out of juice.