autoevolution
Car video reviews:
 

Croatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP Nevera

The year was 2010, and I was attending my first-ever international drift event. I was still in college at the time, and I had just attended several major drag racing events a few weeks back. It was at that time that I first laid eyes on a Nissan Skyline R34. It was only a GTS-T, but it was drift-ready with all the parts and the livery to go with the theme. It was then that I first met Miro Zrncevic, the nowadays Chief Test and Development Driver for Bugatti Rimac.
Croatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP Nevera 31 photos
Croatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP NeveraCroatian Man Has the Best Job in the World, He Feels Right at Home in the 1,914-HP Nevera
While Rimac Automobili was founded in 2009, it would take several more years before it would become an important name on the global automotive scene. While most car enthusiasts are aware of how amazing the Nevera is, let's do a short recap before diving into our interview with Miro. You're looking at one of the fastest cars ever built, and there's no internal combustion engine inside. There are four electric motors, though, one for each wheel. Performance-wise, these deliver 1,914-hp and 1,735 lb-ft (2,360 Nm) of torque. Every great dream begins with a dreamer
That's good enough for a 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) time of 1.97 seconds. The Nevera can accelerate to 186 mph (300 kph) in 9.3 seconds, and it has a theoretical top speed of 256 mph (412 kph). Right off the factory floor, it can run the standing quarter-mile (402 meters) in 8.6 seconds. And according to our calculations, Miro has more seat time in the Croatian hypercar than any other human being. Naturally, we were curious to learn more about his transition from drifting to his current job.

"Since I can remember it was all about cars for me. My dad loves cars and my grandfather owned 17 motorcycles throughout his life, but we were never a car family. Nobody did any kind of racing, nor did we have any sporty cars in our garage." Now in his early 40s, Miro has been mesmerized by cars ever since he was a kid. He grew up with cars like the Volkswagen Golf, Hilman Hunter, Citroen Diana, Yugo 45, and Mercedes-Benz E Class. His first car was an Eastern European classic: the Zastava 750 - the Serbian version of the Fiat 600.

He had bought it with his savings, and his dad helped with the restoration process. He still remembers his father's words to this day: "This is your car. You repair it, refuel it, maintain it, register it. Don't ask me for my car." While most kids these days wouldn't be particularly thrilled about that, Miro feels that this was one of the best parenting choices ever. Miro didn't exactly enjoy wrenching on cars, as he later found out. He drove the little Zastava hard, and the Serbian budget car demanded sacrifices in return.

With limited financial resources at hand, he went through a few more cars until eventually buying a Toyota Celica ST162. His obsessions with cars landed him a part-time job as a motoring journalist, and so he would often get to drive brand new demo vehicles from various manufacturers. Although he had had an attempt at going sideways in a BMW E30 back in the '90s, his appetite for drifting became obvious upon meeting up with Josip Žagar Zax. He was driving an AE86 Hachiroku, and Miro was instantly hooked.Determination gets you a long way
"When I bought my AE86 I was driving it almost 24/7. Every rainy day I would be up in the hills. When it was snowing, I was barely ever home. And then I met mister Stevo Aluga who saw potential in me as a driver and convinced me to buy something with more power, so I changed the AE86 for a Nissan 200SX." Soon after, Miro found two partners to form Links Team: his ticket to becoming a professional drifter behind the wheel of a Nissan Skyline R34 GTS-T. "We won quite a few races and titles. Those were unforgettable times."

Miro has taken part in over 50 drift events in his relatively short career, winning the Croatian Drift Challenge in 2011, among other things. Even though many saw the R34 as one of the coolest drift cars in Europe at the time, his heart was still bound to the little Hachiroku. Miro's drifting adventures could most likely spawn a story of their own, but we also wanted to learn more about how he managed to get involved with Rimac.

"I guess it was around 2002 or even earlier when I met Mate. Forums were big those days, but the car community was fairly small. I remember I was at the Grobnik race circuit just a couple of meters away from the first corner when the engine of his E30 blew up. At that time, I had just started the Croatian Formula Student team, so I was exchanging contacts and machine shop knowledge with Mate. When he and Adriano Mudri started building the Concept_One I was working for EVO magazine in Croatia, and I designed the first brochure for the Frankfurt Auto Show."

Inspired by legends like Loris Bicocchi, Ken Miles, Valentino Balboni, or Dario Benuzzi, Miro had always dreamed of becoming a factory test driver. Rimac Automobili was in its early days, so Miro applied for the job of marketing assistant. At that time, the whole company had only about 30 employees, so everyone had multiple tasks to carry out. "I was a photographer, videographer, mechanic, travel agent, test engineer, driver, homologation specialist, whatever was needed. It was fun and a very steep learning curve at the same time. When the company started to grow, I could slowly devote myself to test driving."When speed gets in the blood, one must drive to live
When the Concept_One launched, it was rated for a solid 1,224-hp and 1,180 lb-ft (1,600 Nm) of torque. Driving the prototype must have been quite a challenge: "It is always a great responsibility and great honor: a cocktail of fun, fear, excitement, and happiness. Prototypes are extremely delicate cars. You need to understand that we did a lot of things that had never been attempted before. Nobody had built a 1.1 MW car with four electric motors."

Experiencing all that power and torque must have felt addictive. We're sure that no drift car in the world could come close to providing that kind of sensation. "With 365 slicks on, I did an all-wheel burnout for about 656 feet (200 meters) when I stepped on the throttle. Taking the car out for its first track day made me think that that was what acid must have felt like. I had never felt anything like it before!" As you can imagine, it's not always a fun job as days spent at the desk can be boring at times.

There's also the chance of experiencing frustration, as not all tests go according to plan. But when everything clicks, everything is back to normal, and by normal, we mean thrilling and out of this world. Going through three sets of tires a day at tracks like Nardo in Italy is not something everyone is going to experience in this lifetime. "We often engage in parallel activities like the tuning of torque vectoring, traction control and optimization of cooling systems, sometimes with multiple cars."

You'd probably need a few weeks of talking to Miro to learn everything there is to know about the Rimac Nevera, but we'll try to keep it as short as possible. So we asked about the differences between the Concept_One and the new car: "Both have Rimac DNA, both have four independent electric motors, but are very different to drive. The biggest difference is the amount of time and process involved in the development. The Nevera is a globally homologated production hypercar that went through extensive simulations, real-world crash testing, and homologation processes. It has a carbon monocoque, active aerodynamics, and a lot of very advanced systems."A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities
Meanwhile, Concept_One was a pioneering project, and only eight of them were ever built. It was based on a spaceframe chassis with a carbon fiber body. Size-wise, it was also smaller than the Nevera. By comparison, the Nevera is more luxurious, more spacious, easier to drive, more powerful, and also faster. The hydraulic power steering was ditched in favor of an electric system, which was more complicated to set up. "My initial drive in the Nevera was 1 meter (three feet) long, inside one of our facilities. That was the most exhilarating short drive in my life."

The Croatian company has built 18 prototypes so far, and 11 of them were used in crash testing. "I had names for each of them, and some of them I miss like I lost a good friend. It's hard to explain." Miro has gone past a huge milestone when it comes to driving Neveras: over 62,000 miles (100,000 km) since that first meter. And that figure keeps on growing each month, with more and more customer and media drives. We haven't managed to drive the Nevera ourselves yet, but we hope that day will come soon enough.

In the meantime, we asked Miro to describe the whole experience beyond simple numbers: "It's very user-friendly. It has five different modes, and five moods if you want. It can be very calm and composed but still Supercar fast in Range mode. It can be very powerful and comfortable in Cruise mode for driving on B roads and a bit more aggressive in Sport Mode. It's very agile, sharp, and quick in Track and a true "hoonigan" machine in Drift mode. In my career as a motoring journalist, I've driven a lot of sports cars and hypercars. I don't know of any other vehicle that has so much character and driving potential."

Besides driving the car, we're also extremely curious to see if and when the Nevera will attempt a Nordschleife record-run. And if that happens, it's going to be fun to see how it stacks up against the Mercedes-AMG One. We asked Miro whether he thinks he will ever go for a career change: "This is my dream job. I plan to do it as long as I can and as long as I will learn something new. And there is always something new to learn, something to improve. I would like to help raise a couple of more test drivers and teach them what I know. This job means the world to me. It takes a lot of time, a lot of kilometers, and proper guidance. I was fortunate to learn from the best guys in the business."

With the expansion of the company, it will likely be one of the biggest players in the market within the next few decades. And there is always a job opening that you can look at if you fancy a slice of the future. "We need everyone: from software developers, to project managers, vehicle engineers, to assembly technicians. If I was to advise a young automotive enthusiast that wants to join us after college, it would be- get involved with Formula Student. Nothing can prepare you better for a real-world challenge. Stay thirsty!"



 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories