While most manufacturers look to futuristic designs for their EV’s, there are a brave few who channel the timeless designs of yesteryears to create retro-modern masterpieces. Founded in 2018, Totem Automobili spent the last two years developing their first-ever vehicle. They’ve stepped up to the plate with their take on the retro-modern sports car, the Totem GT Electric.
Headed by Italian automotive designer Ricardo Quaggio, Totem has breathed new life into the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA of the late 60’s, one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Starting with an original chassis from an Alfa Romeo Giulia GT Junior 1300/1600, Totem disassembled, stripped and dismounted all the external panels from the original car. The frame was finely tuned and stiffened by hand to handle the significant power buff. While only 10 per cent of the original chassis remains intact, the suspension was thoroughly revised, with MacPherson struts up front and an all-aluminium multilink set-up in the rear.
The beautifully handcrafted body is made entirely from carbon fibre, requiring over 6,000 man-hours to sculpt. Totem elegantly redesigned the clean lines of the original Giulia GTA for the Totem GT, giving it a futuristic interpretation while still paying homage to the past. The front fascia of the Totem GT is reminiscent to that of the competition-derived Giulia GTam from 1969, with the quad headlights and a low, wide stance. With an additional 180mm of added width over the original Giulia, the aggressive stance of the Totem GT is further accented with the wide carbon grille with a unique geometric pattern, as well as the sculpted hood.
The side profile is undeniably 60’s Alfa Romeo with all the lines that made it a classic intact. The rear end of the Totem GT is undoubtedly sensual, with two round LED taillights and a curvy design that tapers towards the end for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. As it is an electric vehicle, the Totem GT doesn’t have exhaust pipes, and in its place are two large air extractors that further improve the aero of the car.
Just like the exterior, the interior of the Totem GT is exquisitely handmade, blending in old school charm with new technology. The interior is entirely custom made and will be tailored to suit each individual customer. The carbon fibre and leather seats will be moulded to the driver’s body shape. At the same time aluminium and leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminium gear shifter and aluminium pedals will be custom fitted according to the position and size of the driver. Such is the attention to detail that even the driver’s shoe size is taken into consideration.
While the interior may be well made and portrays an elegant design, it is uncompromisingly Spartan when it comes to features. The infotainment system is merely a standard radio from a decade ago, and the air-conditioning is a single climate control with just four outlets. The only modern piece of the interior can be seen in the two digital displays that have been designed in a classic round shape and enclosed in carbon fibre rings, echoing back to the days of the Giulia GTA.
Despite the extensive use of carbon and the body weighing in at a relatively lightweight 1,270 kg, the Totem GT is still a lardy beast when compared to the original 920kg of the Giulia 1300. Yet, the weighty issue is of no consequence as Totem has equipped the GT with plenty of grunt for rapid performance. Powering this petite sports coupe is a mighty 518hp electric motor that propels the Totem GT from standstill to 100kph in just 3.4 seconds and achieves a top speed of 245kph. The 50.4 kWh battery is one of the safest and lightest in the world, weighing in at only 350kg, and provides a range of 320km on a full charge.
Totem opted for a more conventional power delivery method, with either a sequential transmission or torque converter automatic as options available for customers to choose from. Moreover, the unique mid-rear layout of the electric motor and the inclusion of a rear limited-slip differential perfectly mingles the electric and the mechanical for a more authentic driving experience.
Addressing the lack of sound from electric powertrains, a common gripe amongst enthusiast, the Totem GT pipes in synthesised sound from the gaming world. Totem has partnered with 2electron, a company which specialises in McFly technology to reproduce realistic feel, sound and vibrations of that of an Internal Combustion Engine. Everything from the engine torque, number of gears and the gear ratios, engine braking characteristics as well as sound can be customised in the Totem GT.
Totem paid extra attention to the sound department, with nearly limitless sound layers available for choice. This gives the customers the ability to uniquely customise the sound experience in their vehicle, even those that exist only in the creative mind. The Totem GT is equipped with 13 handmade speakers, 4 speakers and 4 tweeters, as well as a subwoofer mounted on the exterior. Capable of producing up to 125 decibels of sound, the speakers are meant to generate external noise for the aural pleasure of both occupants and passers-by.
With stunningly good looks and incredible performance to boot, the Totem GT Electric is a worthy spiritual successor to the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA for the 21st century. One may argue that Totem may be ‘trying too hard’ to hang on to a bygone era sports coupes with the extent of ‘fake noise’ generation and attempts to recreate an authentic driving experience of a typical ICE car. However, given the fact that only 20 Totem GT Electric’s will ever be made, the elite few that will eventually own a Totem GT will demand nothing but the very best from both the past and future.