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Mazzanti Automobili: The New Evantra Pura

In the world of supercars and hypercars, it has become a bit of a gimmick that manufacturers will release a car, and then, a year or two down the road, release a special, limited, or track-only version of that car. This has happened with many manufacturers from all countries, around the world. There are a few manufacturers, however, that stay dedicated to a tight model line, and each car from that model line is the absolute best it can be at the time it was built.

Mazzanti Automobili, a specialist hypercar coachbuilder and producer in Italy, is one such company. In fact, their model line is exactly three cars: The Evantra Classic, the Evantra 781, and the Evantra Millecavalli R. That is, it was three cars until October 2021, when their latest hypercar, the Evantra Pura, was unveiled to the world. Designed and manufactured without compromise, this car is set to become the next great Italian limited edition collector’s hypercar, as you will soon see.

The History Of The Evantra

The Evantra model has always been at the core of Mazzanti Automobili’s design and engineering concepts, due to the fact that the initial boxed steel frame and chrome-molybdenum cage of the 2012 prototype proved to be extremely strong. Structural rigidity was key, due to the fact that the Evantra was always meant to be a comfortable but agile and sporty two seater coupe. After testing and proving, the base model, now known as the Evantra Classic, went on sale in 2013.

As part of the whole concept of a coachbuilt hypercar, each and every vehicle was built precisely to customer specifications. The bodywork could be made out of carbon fiber, hand-wrought aluminum, or pretty much any combination of both. Each interior was made to measure, with the driver’s seat made to fit the customer’s own unique body shape, in essence making each interior a one-off, one of the core values of being coachbuilt.

Evantra (Evantra Classic)

Mazzanti Evantra Classic

The original engine for the 2013 Evantra was a GM-supplied 7.0L V8 that was stripped down to the block and rebuilt by Mazzanti’s in-house engineering department. What resulted was a 701 HP V8 that sat directly behind the cabin in a mid-mount longitudinal position, passing power through a 6-speed sequential transmission. During prototyping and testing, however, those same Mazzanti engineers were able to extract a further 50 HP from the engine, meaning the 2013 production cars left the factory with 751 horses going to the rear wheels.

With a limited production run of five cars per year, this allowed each engine to undergo stress testing and fine tuning, making each engine, like the car, a one-off in terms of its tune and timings. As such, if you were to test an Evantra Classic on a dynamometer, you would get a number close to 751 HP, but each and every car would give you a different result.

Evantra Millecavalli

Mazzanti Evantra Millecavalli

With the success of the original Evantra, Mazzanti introduced the Millecavalli, a more hardcore version of the base car, in 2016. The 7.0L GM V8 was not only stripped down to the block again, this time it was bored out to 7.2L, had new pistons to match the boring made, and just for power’s sake, had two turbochargers bolted to it. The result is the 7.2L Mazzanti Twin Turbo V8, which produces a net 1,000 HP, with 885 lb-ft, or dead on 1,200 Newton-meters, of torque. 

This new engine was the basis of the Evantra Millecavalli’s name, as in Italian, Mille is “One thousand” and Cavalli is “horses,” meaning the car is literally named the Evantra One Thousand Horses. Its interior is again customized to each customer, but features a more track oriented setup, including a bespoke 6-speed sequential built only for the Millecavalli. This means that the dash provides only necessary information, and the materials are more suited to letting the driver focus on speed and handling, instead of out and out luxury.

Evantra 771

Mazzanti Evantra 771

In 2016, the next Evantra was revealed, the 771. This version was displayed at the 2016 Bologna Motor Show, and gained immediate attention. It shared the same basic lines of the Evantra, yet somehow flexed a bit more, was that little bit more aggressive, and spoke of the extra 20 HP from its 7.0 Mazzanti-reworked V8, so that it produced 771 HP. 

Mazzanti Evantra 771 Engine closeup
The engine of the 771, with its direct feed air shaft from the roof scoop

Special features of the Evantra 771 are that it came with special, Mazzanti-only lightweight wheels from OZ Racing, shod with 255/30R20 fronts and 325/23R20 rears Pirelli P Zero tires. MacPherson struts were installed in all four corners, giving the car exceptional responsiveness and ride comfort without diluting the hypercar experience.

Brakes were increased in diameter from the Evantra, with a 380mm rotor with 6-piston calipers in the front, and 360mm rotors with 4-piston calipers in the rear. The 771 was also the first Mazzanti to offer second generation carbon-ceramic brakes, offering fade-free performance without the grabby, jerky nature of the first generation carbon-ceramics offered by many supercar manufacturers in the mid-2000s.

Evantra 781

Rear view of the Mazzanti Evantra 781

As the Evantra 771 became more and more desirable as a hypercar, and due to the limited production of only five cars per year, the decision was made to switch the engine from the 7.0L Mazzanti-fettled V8 to another GM-supplied V8, this one being a 6.2L V8 based on the widely known LT2 Corvette engine. Of course, this engine was stripped down to the block and extensively reworked by skilled Italian engineers, and ended up producing 781 HP.

As well, the Evantra 781 changed the suspension from MacPherson struts to fully adjustable, independent double wishbone suspension at each wheel. This was done to give the 781 a more aggressive handling profile and increasing high speed stability in response to road surface imperfections.

Evantra Millecavalli R

Rear view of the Mazzanti Evantra Millecavalli R

The most recent Evantra, the Millecavalli R takes the already insane performance and handling of the Millecavalli and turns all the dials up to maximum. The 7.2L V8 was taken back to the Mazzanti engineers, and with a further boring and reworking of the tuning, is now a 7.4L Mazzanti V8 with a nigh unbelievable 1,121 HP and 892 lb-ft of torque. 

The biggest difference over its brother model is that the R receives a full aerodynamic package. This is meant to be the track-only version of the Evantra, yet because of it keeping the boxed steel and chrome-molybdenum frame and cage, it is fully road legal. Also, as part of the track-oriented nature of the car, special Michelin Sport tires are made for the car.

The New 2021 Evantra Pura

Front view of the 2021 Mazzanti Evantra PuraA totally reworked front aero package increases downforce without introducing any increased drag.

In Italian, the word Pura means “pure.” For Luca Mazzanti, the man behind the name of the company, it is something he has been searching for in his cars from day one. Not purity in the sense of design or shape, but purity in the way that the car feels around the driver. Let us remember that each and every Evantra is almost a one-off due to being customized to each client, and Luca wanted something for those that remember the days of three pedals, a manual shifter, and the connection that gave, the pure exhilaration, of being completely one with the machine.

The core of this search for the purest driving experience comes with the all-new 7-speed manual transmission designed for the Evantra Pura alone. Left behind are the sequential 6- and 7-speed transmissions of the other models, as they don’t give the same connection as a gated transmission, each shift accompanied by that mechanical feeling of the lever sliding home. The clutch has also been redesigned for the car, to give superb feel and allow the driver to slip it perfectly, with a move from a dual-plate clutch package to a triple-plate clutch.

Close up of the 2021 Mazzanti Evantra Pura badgeThe Mazzanti Automobili badge, denoting a handbuilt carbon fiber hypercar

The engine is borrowed from the Evantra 781, yet as with each model, has taken a trip through Mazzanti’s in-house engineering and tuning department. What has emerged is a 6.2L V8 with a bespoke supercharger, which feeds the dual-injection-per-cylinder engine with compressed air from even the lowest revs. This, in turn, helps the V8 produce 761 HP, but more importantly, 970 Nm of torque (about 715 lbs-ft). 

Close up of OZ Racing wheels for the 2021 Mazzanti Evantra PuraBespoke OZ Racing wheels made just for the Evantra Pura

This pursuit of driving purity is not only down to the engine and clutch, however. The body has been extensively lightened, and the aerodynamics have been reworked with the use of computer-aided fluid dynamic simulation. These simulations were carried out by both Mazzanti and their strategic partners who help design Formula 1 and Le Mans racing cars, giving highly detailed results that let the aerodynamics be optimized for the power and speed of the car.

Rear view of the 2021 Mazzanti Evantra Pura showcasing the spoiler and diffuserThe reworked spoiler and diffuser at the rear of the Evantra Pura. Also note the visible elements of the chrome-molybdenum engine support frame

The Pura is also the first Evantra that will not include any aluminum body parts at all in its construction. In pursuit of that pure driving experience, the car will be made of a special weave of carbon fiber composite that has immense torsional and structural rigidity, yet is so lightweight that this Evantra produces another first, that being its dry weight of 1,280 kg (2,822 lbs), the first car weighing under 1,300 kg.

2021 Mazzanti Evantra Pura headlights and front endHood vents both cool the radiators and create a flow of air over the windshield and roof of the Evantra Pura, helping feed the hungry supercharger and create a smooth pressure layer over the aerodynamics of the car

It is this combination of factors that has led to Luca Mazzanti bestowing the name Pura onto this model. The control of a light, single clutch with three plates. A gated 7-speed manual shifter with positive and solid feel. A lighter weight body, tuned aerodynamically to provide the possible handling and high speed experience. A V8 engine with a Mazzanti-designed supercharger giving the best sound and power, a bellow of 8 cylinders matching with the soprano scream of the twin screws in the supercharger housing.

Closeup of the Mazzanti Pura exhaustWe can just imagine what the bellow of the 6.2L supercharged V8 will sound like out of those exhausts, placed so that they help increase the Venturi effect of both the diffuser and spoiler to increase downforce

The result is the most pure Evantra made. It bolts to 100 KPH (62 MPH) in 2.9 seconds and pulls strongly to a top speed in excess of 360 KPH (224 MPH). It also carries the purest of partner parts, among them Brembo second-generation carbon-ceramic discs and calipers, Tractive Suspension shocks within adjustable MacPherson struts with spherical bearings, and a Brembo-Mazzanti ABS system that, on customer request, can have an ABS deactivation button fitted to the interior.

Of course, no interior will be the same, and Luca Mazzanti, with a little knowing smile, has no intention of showing the newly redesigned interior. This is because, as with all other Mazzanti’s, there will only be five cars made per year, and he wants to have something that only clients will see, which is their own customized interior. We can’t blame him, really, as that is part of what makes Mazzanti Automobili special: Each car is bespoke to its owner, and really, it’s up to that owner to choose what they like around them as they drive without having to share it with anyone.

2021 Evantra Pura Technical Specifications

Model 2021 Evantra Pura
Top speed >360kph / 224mph
0 – 60mph 2.9 seconds
Measurements  4325*1955*1225 mm
Wheelbase 2550 mm

Boxed steel cradle + roll bar and engine and gearbox

support frame in chromium-molybdenum trellis

Weight distribution 43% front and 57% rear
Weight (dry) 1280 kg
Car body Carbon fibre
Engine (GM Block) 6200 cc V8 Supercharged
Power HP and Nm 761 hp – 970 Nm
Engine layout Rear / mid
Gearbox 7-speed manual (Mazzanti)
Clutch Single – 3 discs
Brake discs (Brembo) Carbon ceramic 380mm front + 360 mm rear
Brake calipers (Brembo) 6-piston brakes front + 4-piston rear

McPherson – adjustable option

Suspension fitted with Spherical bearings

Shock absorbers  Tractive Suspensions
Tyre size 255/35/19 + 315/30/20
Traction Rear wheel drive
Seating 2 seats
Tank capacity 70L
Fuel consumption Combined cycle 12.4 lt per 100 km / 22.7 MPG

An In-Depth Look at the Ford Focus RS

Blisteringly fast, sometimes unforgiving and exclusively blue, the Mark I Ford Focus RS is a sublime analog sports car disguised as a boy-racer-ish hot hatchback. In the two decades since its introduction, this Euro-only limited production Ford has matured into a pretty desirable classic.

The first Ford Focus RS is one of the finest examples of affordable power at the dawn of the third millennium. Saying that this hot hatchback was worthy of the famous RS insignia is an understatement, because it is way more than just a Focus with a lower stance and the strongest production engine that could fit in the engine bay. It was conjured, engineered and executed out of sheer enthusiasm rather than for profits, and that shows from the moment you step on the gas.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Europe, continue on to see why you may want to get one of these cars for yourself right now (or as soon as it turns 25 if you’re in the US).

Ford Focus RS Background and Development

Starting with the British Escort RS1600 two-door sedan in 1970, the European Ford and Cosworth embarked on a joint venture to create a number of RS cars—fast Blue Ovals for rally and sport. Though the RS insignia appeared on the Capri Coupé, the Sierra sedan and as a standalone badge on the RS200 Group B special, it was really the Escort RS that had the strongest impact on the masses.

Whether it was a rear-wheel drive sedan or a front-wheel drive hot hatch, with or without turbochargers, the Escort RS never failed to give power to the people—becoming an integral part of European automotive folklore for three decades. On the other hand, each regular Escort couldn’t be farther from its RS-badged counterparts, as it was getting increasingly dull, stripped of any joy and character with each new generation that entered the market.

In its sixth and final generation, the Escort RS got a dramatic sendoff in 1992, as the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. A phenomenal version of an otherwise terrible car, this masterclass in hot hatch engineering was built on a shortened Sierra RS chassis, meaning it had four-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter, 224 horsepower Cosworth YBT T34 four-pot.

This Group A homologation special didn’t manage to win a WRC title, but its whale tail spoiler and mean attitude ensured it a place in the British automotive pantheon.

The Ford Focus in the New Millennium

The Escort survived throughout the nineties and the early aughts and was desperately in need of being replaced by an all-new philosophy. With a history of building joyless cars, Ford had to reinvent itself to stay relevant globally. Moreover, as per the Ford 2000 plan, the new millennium asked for a true world car to spearhead the Blue Oval’s lineup in all corners of the Earth.

That car was the Focus—the funky compact hatchback that debuted in 1998 in Europe and got to the US in 1999. Developed under the brilliant Richard Parry-Jones, the Focus was more than just a new name in the C-segment; it was a disruptive force.

What Parry-Jones wanted was an affordable car people would actually enjoy driving. He pushed to make a car that steered more precisely and had better road holding while still being affordable for the customer and commercially viable for the company.

The risk he took with a novel rear suspension design paid off, and the Focus eclipsed both its predecessor and head-on competitors, making their engineering solutions seem dated and inferior.

Conceiving the Mark 1 Ford Focus

Thanks to Parry-Jones, the Focus was an entry level family car that felt fun, comfortable and involving—something the competition could hardly follow. With such a foundation, Ford naturally had sporty ambitions for the new nameplate.

Still, the idea of a really hot Mark 1 Focus was still a European affair. After all, hot hatchbacks always felt more at home in Europe, and Ford didn’t abandon its rallying efforts, teaming up with M-Sport to build and run the Focus WRC and signing superstar driver Colin McRae for the 1999 season.

The same year, Ford showcased the Focus Cosworth concept car at the Los Angeles Motor Show—but behind the curtains, the upcoming Focus was distanced from Cosworth, and the high performance model was entrusted to a team of 60 engineers from Ford and Tickford Engineering.

To make the hot Focus a reality, Tickford re-engineered 70% of the base car, sourcing specialized high quality components from Quaife, Garrett, Brembo and Sparco, among others.

Initially, this hot hatchback was supposed to be a Ford Racing Focus, but after the Ford Racing Puma was not met with the reception it frankly deserved, Ford decided to revive the evocative RS badge—which turned out to be just the right decision.

Close up of radiator on blue Ford Focus RS

The Birth of the Ford Focus RS

Still in development, the pre-production car was shown at the Birmingham Motor Show in 2000 and the 2001 Geneva Motor Show, but the production took longer than expected. So the Focus RS hit the showrooms in late 2002, a year and a half later than originally planned.

In the meantime, Ford unveiled the 170-horsepower SVT Focus for the US market in 2001, whereas Europe got the spiced up ST170 in 2002.

Despite the development being carried out in the United Kingdom, Ford produced the Focus RS in the Saarlouis plant in Germany between 2002 and 2003, making it available in 4501 copies only. Unsurprisingly, the UK market was the biggest one, with 2147 cars being right-hand drive, whereas the remainder was scattered throughout Europe.

The RS model was based on the pre-restyle Focus, despite the regular model receiving a refresh in 2001. However, halfway through the production run, it did get a number of mild changes colloquially known as Phase 2.

From a cynical point of view, the Focus RS was a parts bin special, but the choice of high quality suppliers and how all their parts worked together made the final product well worth the RS badge (and the wait). The Focus RS was received as an instant hit, praised for its physics-defying handling, and revered for its turbocharged power delivery—all at a competitive price of only 19,995 pounds.

Front and left side view of blue Ford Focus RS in field near forest

For a multitude of reasons, the Focus RS became a hot topic in all echelons of European car culture. On the streets, the tracksuit-wearing crowd was charmed by its looks and performance, whereas the racing community appreciated all the engineering that went into it, making it a solid foundation for rallying.

So, two decades later, how does the original Focus RS hold up? Is it still hailed for all its traits and what made it a crown jewel of the Focus range in the first place? Let’s see!

Chassis, Body, & Interior of the Ford Focus RS

Exterior Impressions of the Ford Focus RS

The looks of the Focus were the most distilled expression of Ford’s New Edge design language, but the final execution didn’t sit well when the Focus came out in 1998. Unlike the whimsical Ka supermini and the handsome little Puma, the Focus was just too odd and radical, especially for a car in a segment that had to appeal to the widest of audiences.

Rear three quarter view of blue Ford Focus RS

Under Jack Telnack and Claude Lobo’s guidance, John Doughty blended straight lines and curves with sharp angles and clean geometric surfaces, making the Focus stand out from its relatively conservative contemporary competition. Today, this clean and simple look has aged exceptionally well, making the original Ford Focus an exemplary piece of turn of the millennium car design.

For the RS model, the structurally sound 3-door Focus shell underwent a comprehensive overhaul, transforming the clean, futuristic silhouette into a car that would be more aggressive and appealing to the new generation of hot hatch aficionados.

Front view of blue Ford Focus RS in field

With flared wheel arches, a tailgate spoiler, a unique front bumper adorned with a gaping air intake, fog lights, and air extracting louver-like vents, the Focus RS looked quite like its increasingly popular rallying counterpart.

Beneath the surface, the unibody shell was strengthened throughout, increasing the car’s rigidity and ability to withstand punishment when pushed to its limits. As a final touch to this special treatment, the original Focus RS could be painted any color the customer wanted—as long as it was Imperial Blue.

Interior of Ford Focus RS

Inside the Ford Focus RS

The true blue theme continued on in the interior as well, with Sparco bucket seats finished in black and blue vertical stripes with black Alcantara accents. Breaking the tradition, Ford chose Sparco over Recaro as a supplier for all other RS-specific parts, so the interior got bespoke aluminum pedals, a handbrake lever, a gear stick, and a ball-shaped knob, too.

Sparco bucket seats in Ford Focus RS

Other details unique to the RS were custom blue gauges and a steering wheel wrapped in blue and black leather with a blue 12 o’clock marker. Rather inexplicably, the water temperature gauge inside the instrument cluster was omitted in favor of a turbo boost gauge, prompting many owners to find aftermarket solutions for reading out vital engine parameters.

Ford Focus RS engine start button and serial number stamp

Finally, the last RS-specific interior bit was a unique carbon fiber gearbox console with a green starter button and a stamped serial number of each car produced. The Phase 2 model got “ENGINE START” written around the green button, as well as additional stitching on the seats.

Ford Focus RS Engine & Transmission

The Focus RS was powered by a transversely mounted 2.0-liter DOHC inline four from the Zetec-R family, yet branded as Duratec RS. This 16-valve four pot has a cast iron block and aluminum head and was thoroughly re-engineered to withstand additional power coming from forced induction.

That being said, Duratec RS got forged pistons and connecting rods, sodium-filled valves, a more capable water pump, an oil cooler, and high flowing injectors.

Ford Focus RS Duratec RS engine

The aviation grade Inconel-made Garrett GT2560LS turbo was developed exclusively for the Focus RS, allowing the Duratec RS to produce a total of 212 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 229 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 RPM. This power gave the 2,817 lb car a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 144 miles per hour—quite a punch for an early 2000s hot hatch and still respectable today.

In Phase 2, the car got a new engine map, making it less thirsty and more friendly for daily use.

Ford Focus RS instrument cluster with turbo boost gauge

Power delivery was as direct as could be, with Ford bypassing turbo lag by cooling the compressed intake air via a liquid circuit with a separate radiator instead of using a conventional intercooler system. By saving space like this, the engineering team improved responsiveness, cutting on lag one would usually find in turbocharged cars of similar vintage.

Via a composite AP Racing clutch, the engine was mated to the only transmission that could fit the Focus and withstand the engine’s torque output. It was the Ford MTX-75 transmission, a close-ratio 5-speed unit with a short shifter kit, sending power to the front wheels through a bespoke Quaife automatic torque biasing differential.

Ford Focus RS MTX-75 transmission

Distributing torque to the wheel with more traction, the worm gear Quaife ATB diff was a key piece for the Focus RS’ exceptional handling, though the car also gained a reputation for torque steer, especially in wet weather and despite Tickford’s efforts to minimize it.

What definitely didn’t help is that the original Focus RS had a front-biased weight distribution of 59.5:40.5 and no form of traction or stability control, making it too challenging in the hands of inexperienced drivers.

Ford Focus RS Suspension & Handling

The Focus’ main selling point was its MacPherson suspension at the front (similar to what you’d find in a Mustang) and what Ford called Control Blade at the rear. Richard Parry-Jones’ brainchild, this compact multi link suspension blended the packaging of a trailing arm setup with geometry of a double wishbone suspension.

In this setup, the Control Blade steel trailing arm took care of the braking and traction loads, whereas the long rear lateral arm controlled the toe and two shorter front lateral arms controlled the camber.

This engineering solution increased ride quality and enhanced the car’s maneuverability in many ways, giving the engineers greater ability to fine tune it on the RS model, while the clever design also lowered the center of gravity by eliminating the need for rear shock towers. The fact that it was fairly cheap to produce and easy to assemble created a breakthrough in the segment, giving the Focus a huge advantage on the market.

For the RS, the engineering team completely overhauled the suspension, redesigning new front arms, lower arms and trailing arms, stronger bushings, and anti-roll bars, and installing stiffer Sachs dampers.

As a result, the Focus RS was lowered by 25mm (compared to the standard version) and, in addition to that, it had revised geometry and wider track on both axles, matching the Focus WRC 03 rally car’s track.

As the final piece of the handling puzzle, the RS got a quicker steering rack too—amping up its responsiveness and allowing for more direct feedback at the steering wheel.

Ford Focus RS Brakes, Wheels, & Tires

Stopping power was granted through a Brembo system with 324 mm ventilated and grooved steel discs at the front and and 280 mm solid discs at the back. The rotors were gripped by four-piston calipers front and single-piston floating calipers in the rear.

Ford Focus RS Mark 1 OZ Racing 18 by 8 inch wheels

The Focus RS was exclusively equipped with lightweight 18×8-inch five-spoke OZ Racing wheels with a 4×108 bolt pattern, and wrapped in 225/40ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport high grip tires.

Legacy of the Ford Focus RS

Offering a raw and thrilling analog run for quite an affordable price, the original Ford Focus RS succeeded in becoming another street racing hero for the Playstation generation, while McRae’s rallying escapades between 1999 and 2005 wrote its name in Y2K’s motorsport history.

Although the road going Ford Focus RS wasn’t directly a homologation car for the radical Focus RS WRC 03, strong associations between the two cemented the car’s cult status—making it a worthy successor to everything the Escort had accomplished in past decades.

Front view of blue Ford Focus RS parked in grassy field

But before it became cherished as a legitimate modern classic, Focus RS was first loved for its immense tuning potential. Its bulletproof engine and turbo setup made it ideal for various modifications, be it for road, track or rallying use. This in turn means that the number of surviving examples is limited even further, especially those in their original condition.

As it usually goes with limited supplies of cars that happen to be amazing, the increasing demand for this model has driven values back up to its original price tag. And the fact that it is another phenomenally fast Ford that America never got will make it even more valuable when it reaches 25 years of age.

The automotive industry has shown us too many times that looks can be deceiving. With its street-fighter-esque, cartoonish features providing cover for a mature and compelling sports car, the Mark I Ford Focus RS is one of the brightest examples of how the art of deception can amaze you once you look beyond the surface.

All photos by Djordje Sugaris.