Bohema is a €1.28m ($1.3m) hypercar inspired and tested by Formula 1 and IndyCar racing driver Romain Grosjean. Created by Praga Cars, the motoring arm of the 115-year-old Czech engineering and racing firm, the track-focused road car boasts a twin-turbo six-cylinder high-performance engine, targeting some 700 horsepower.
Meanwhile, the carbon monocoque chassis and body have kept the overall weight to under 1000kg, and the two-seater promises a top speed of over 300 km/h (186mph). Only 89 hand-built Bohemas are planned to honor the 89th anniversary of Praga’s historic 1933 road race victory, with customer delivery scheduled in 2023.
I asked Juraj Mitro, chief designer, to explain the Bohema project, the design principles, and why the team is betting on petrol during the transition to electric power.
How do you define the visual identity of Praga cars?
Praga has a broad portfolio from karts, trucks, race cars and now this hypercar. It is not essential or even possible to have characteristic design language across the board, as each product requires an individual character.
However, the one thing they all have in common is that they are engineered for a purpose. So, in their design, we are not distracted by too many outside influences: what does this product need to do to do its job, whether that is long travel distances, reliably, or winning endurance motor races? We design emotion into the package with our race cars and the Bohema hypercar. Our core philosophy is to deliver an engineering package with a design that adds emotion without reducing performance. It is a fine balance and very difficult, but you can see and feel the results.
The cars are lightweight by definition, with an all-carbon construction. How closely do you need to collaborate with the chief engineer to help realize your vision?
The cooperation between design and engineering comes naturally within our team as we all have practical experience in what we do. Getting the Bohema below 1,000 kg and still delivering a premium feel, in-cabin ambiance, and road manners was an incredible act of teamwork. I have been working with composites for almost three decades, so my vision is often inspired by the materials.
What are the constraints of creating a hypercar that stands out from the others on the market?
The biggest constraint we work with is legislation. We are used to this as we always have to work to the rules governing race car categories. We are a relatively small team with all its pros and cons. We can be very flexible in our decisions; more often than not, we find solutions in creative discussions.
Bohema is full of innovative solutions, even around legislation, many of which had to be designed because we didn’t want to follow the industry standards. It created challenges and presented opportunities to fully explore our creativity so much that Bohema became part of our lives. I believe this sets our project apart from others, and you can see the results in a car that looks and behaves like no other in its category.
Is there a future electric Praga in the pipelines? And if so, how radical can you be in design with electric architecture?
The best solution for a hypercar or supercar is still petrol because the best solution is lightweight — for performance, braking, and looks. You can “see” a light car, in my opinion. An electric vehicle for daily usage or performance is an excellent idea. Still, a hypercar with a battery adds hundreds of kilos of weight that kills its character, agility and fun factor. It also adds significantly higher cost with tire wear, and brake degradation, for example.
Do you see this changing as electric battery technology advances?
I’m not convinced that the current process of battery production, maintenance and recharging are environmentally the answer either. We are always looking far and wide, and there are concepts where EV will make sense. I am sure that the future of environmentally neutral transportation won’t depend entirely on batteries. Still, lightweight will remain the focus if we look at race cars or road cars.
I hear you design furniture using carbon fiber. How does your work from car design translate to this and vice-versa?
Sharing the furniture project with my wife, an interior designer, we are both fascinated by the properties and possibilities of carbon fiber, which we learned during my career in motorsport. We don’t want to use the material for aesthetics only, so our designs take advantage of carbon’s incredible strength and freedom in shaping. But where the material unites the projects, the feeling is quite different.
When I design a car, I am trying to deliver harmony between engineering and design. In our furniture business, though, my wife introduces an element of contrast — contrasting materials, shapes and colors.