Photos copyright ©2011 Wolfango Spaccarelli / AOL
This name-guessing game is one of the best things Lamborghini has going for its mystique value. Another thing that comes close is what the new colors of the car's paint palette will be labeled. The model we've shot here is the actual Geneva showstand Aventador, and its all-new scene-stealing hue is Arancio Argos – Argos Orange – named after the deep-colored oranges grown around the ancient southern Greek town of Argos, a chief rival of the mighty killing machines over in Sparta.
Today, Lamborghini is just hoping to go Ferrari
-, and Bugatti
-hunting, so no killing of all the male inhabitants or anything is foreseen.
At this point, the bosses at Lamborghini know they'll never stop hearing the "Audighini" or "LambAudi" comments, but don't say it to their faces on this go-round. The Aventador is, according to creditable head of R&D Maurizio Reggiani, as close to 100-percent-new as it gets versus the outgoing Murcièlago LP-640. The three-section chassis, cabin structure, V12 engine, transmission, suspension bits, all-wheel-drive module – you name it, it's all new to the company "apart from some carryover Murcièlago nuts and bolts," adds Reggiani.
Internally known as model "LB834," the Aventador's one-piece passenger cell is made entirely of a new-generation reinforced carbon fiber formulated with help from Boeing Aerospace, and it weighs in at just 324 pounds, while the whole naked chassis including aluminum front and rear crash structures weighs just 505 lbs. Overall bending and twisting stiffness is said to be double that ever experienced with the Murcièlago. Every carbon fiber cell is created in a just-completed facility at Lambo
HQ in Sant'Agata Bolognese, and between 700 and 800 units per year is the ultimate goal once the full-rhythm build starts after the August summer holidays when Italy traditionally shuts down. The best year for the Murc was 2007, when 613 were delivered worldwide.
The new 691-hp (SAE), 6.5-litre V12 engine out back – called "L539" in Lambo-speak – is a massive 40 lbs. lighter than the Murcièlago engine, sits 2.8 inches lower in the chassis, is nine percent more powerful, and produces upwards of 20 percent better fuel efficiency
in the hands of the right driver (for a whopping 13.7 mpg average). Dry weight of an Aventador is now just 3,472 lbs. compared to the Murcièlago's 3,671 lbs., a healthy five percent reduction in a class segment where weight loss is a crucial and constant challenge. Weight distribution is a predictable 43 percent front and 57 rear.
So, the Aventador's all-important pound-per-horsepower reading is just 5.02 lbs. versus the Murcièlago at 5.81 lbs. To beat these super-exotic numbers in the big rear-engine club, you'd have to shell out at least $1.3 million for either a Bugatti Veyron
or Pagani C9 Huayra
. As it stands, the Aventador LP700-4 is estimated to come in at around $370k.
Thanks to a three-inch-lower dry-sump pan under the motor and the choice not to go with direct injection as on the Gallardo
V10 engine for now (it's sequential multi-point), the exterior look and stance were allowed to remain as gorgeous as they are. Comparing bore and stroke between Murcièlago and Aventador, the former reads a rather square 88mm x 89mm (3.47in x 3.50in) while the new motor gets bored – literally – now reading 95mm x 76.4mm (3.74in x 3.00in). Engineer Reggiani is a big believer in short-stroke cylinders since the ability to get lots of torque cranking down low in the rev range improves greatly. "With this car, I can take off from a stop in fifth gear and 1,000 rpm, no problem," says the man with the R&D plan. Just, please, don't try this at home.
Whereas the Murcièlago was honestly not allowed to be a totally new Lamborghini in its design (like the cash-cow Gallardo
was, albeit heavily borrowed from Audi
) due to lack of resources at the start of Audi
ownership in mid-1998, the Aventador design reflects a dramatic effort on Lamborghini's part over the past three years to create a true 21st-century halo car, something the Murcièlago never achieved.
The overall shape takes the aerodynamic curved profile of either a Diablo or Countach a less pimp-y step further, and is heavily influenced by the edges seen on the 2008 limited-edition Reventón. The rear face and tail profile especially take hints from the Estoque
four-door concept seen at the 2008 Paris Motor Show
. Overall height is identical between the incoming and outgoing V12 car, while the length of the Aventador versus the Murc grows by some 6.7 in. and width is reduced by 1.1 in. To go with the added length, wheelbase grows as well by 1.4 in. The desire is clearly to have less of a boxy door-stop shape in favor of one that will slip through the air to threaten speed records. The only visibly moveable aerodynamic bit now is the rear wing, which reaches a maximum downforce-inducing angle of 11 degrees. The gaping side intakes open or close automatically, and here there is nothing like the origami shoulder appliqué air flaps used on the Murc.
Our time spent sitting in the finally un-camouflaged new supersport reveals a distinct leap ahead in aesthetics, with far more character and fewer borrowed (and cheaper) surfaces than before. All controls are distinctly more easily accessible and understandable, while the digital bright instrument readouts are in keeping with the retina-defibrillating show. And there is at last an electric handbrake. Throttle-engine response, Servotronic steering force, rear differential slip degree, and gearshift timings are altered by pressing one of the three buttons by our right hand: Strada, Sport or Corsa.
And what would a V12 Lamborghini be without scissor doors? As ever, there is only the slightest compromise for any sports car
lover while entering or exiting the Aventador. In fact, if it had standard doors then nobody would buy the thing.
Speaking with Lamborghini executives, it is clear that they want their 12-cylinder to bust out of the big shadow thrown by Gallardo and brashly take on all Ferraris
and any other 12- or 16-cylinder exotics at every quantifiable and subjective level. The Gallardo will finally eat a little humble pie and assume its proper spot as the firm's higher-volume number-two "people's car."
To make this clear, the current estimated acceleration time for Aventador to 60 mph is 2.8 seconds (i.e. 2.9 to 100 km/h) when dallying in the fields of Launch Control. The engine howls with all power on tap now up to 8,250 rpm, and there's much more flexibility in the mid-revs with almost all of the 509 pound-feet of torque available from 5,000 rpm and more going on also at the lowest revs. The new seven-speed ISR ("Independent Shifting Rods") Graziano single-clutch gearbox is said to polish off shifts in Corsa mode in just 50 milliseconds while weighing half as much as the old E-gear Audi R-tronic-like dual-clutch system. And for the first time on a Lamborghini, the suspension is pulled right out of Formula-car thinking with its sophisticated inboard pushrod spring and damper setup. Top speed realized so far, so they tell us, has gone beyond the stated 217 mph max.
As the cream on top, the new all-wheel-drive system is a Haldex IV setup in keeping with the latest-generation units with greater rear-end bias. The Aventador-specific wheels – 19-inch front and 20-inch rear – are amazing eye-snatchers, and big (15.74-inch up front) ceramic stop-you-like-a-wall brake discs are standard. The treads are Pirelli P Zero and get sized out at 255/35 front and 335/30 rear. No manual transmission will be offered, but there is a welcome limited-slip differential. To keep your Aventador from chipping expensive front teeth, there remains a hydraulic lift for garage entry and school-zone speed bumps that raises things 1.6 inches.
After a disastrous 2009 and still tough 2010, Lamborghini is right back on track and up to the tricks we expect. Having planned and executed everything for the show-stealing Aventador LP700-4 in-house, this V12 arrow is finally and properly determined to account for the updated Lamborghini pride and image lead among prospective customers. Of the five design concepts for the car
from various VW
Group studios that made it to 1:1 scale, Filippo Perini and his team at the Sant'Agata Centro Stile won out. A year after the hardtop launches, the "LB835" Roadster version will arrive – hopefully with a less Lincoln
Logs-difficult manual roof mechanism than the contraption on the Murcièlago Roadster.
U.S. deliveries begin toward the end of October, and we promise to bring you a first production-quality Aventador drive in May. The wait is going to be excruciating. No bull.