Lambo supercar with family hatchback economy

Paris Motor Show: Lamborghini’s message is clear - this is not just a show concept rival to La Ferrari. This is “production feasible”

 

It might be nearly a year behind the times, but Italy’s wildest supercar maker has leapfrogged the hybrid supercar party by delivering a 320km/h coupe with hatchback-shaming economy.

With a 3.0-second sprint to 100km/h and legging it out to a top speed of 320km/h, the Asterion LPI 910-4 has 669kW of total system power, or the 910 (Italian) horsepower that gives it the numerical part of its badge.

The Asterion LPI 910-4 might be “just” a concept car, but with a 5.2-litre V10, three electric motors and 50km of pure electric range, it’s completely production feasible according to Lamborghini executives. It should be, too, with parent company, Audi, already having the A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid in production with modular hybrid hardware and software systems that can easily fit into a Lamborghini.

That electric range has helped to slash the Asterion LPI 910-4’s fuel consumption from the Huracan’s 12.5 litres/100km to just 4.2 litres/100km, even with more power than the new, conventional 448kW V10 supercar.

“Lamborghini is always looking ahead, investing in new technologies and setting new benchmarks, delivering the unexpected,” Lamborghini President and CEO, Stephan Winkelmann, said.

Even so, the Asterion LPI 910-4 has yet to see a production line and the Ferrari LaFerrari, the Porsche 918 and the McLaren P1 are all in showrooms already - and some of them are faster and more powerful than the Lamborghini concept car.

The LaFerrari, for example, uses a V12 engine and an electric motor to deliver 718kW of power. The McLaren has a twin-turbo V8 and an electric motor for 674kW, while the Porsche has a turbocharged V8 and two electric motors to help it to deliver 661kW.

The opposition is fast, too, with all of them boasting 0-100km/h sprint times below three seconds and 0-200km/h sprints below seven seconds. What the opposition can’t do is deliver pure electric running, future-proofing the Lamborghini for life in tomorrow’s mega-cities.

With the traditional transmission tunnel now reserved for a series of lithium-ion battery packs mounted low in the chassis, the Asterion LPI 910-4 can stretch up to 125km/h as a pure electric machine.

Its three electric motors combine to deliver 220kW of power, though Lamborghini makes no claims about the all-important torque figure of either the electric motors or the total system. The main electric motor sits between the V10 and the dual-clutch transmission, acting as electric motor, generator and starter motor. It then feeds its energy to the front electric motors, each of which turn just one wheel.

The driver can toggle through three steering wheel buttons to choose between pure electric or pure V10 power, plus the hybrid mode that combines both power systems.

The front-mounted electric motors spell the end for the all-wheel drive Lamborghini’s front differential, which pulls back some of the weight from the battery pack, which fits neatly into the space the front diff’s prop shaft would normally occupy.

The plug-in hybrid supercar is a far cry from Lamborghini’s wildly styled but technologically tame Veneno from the Geneva Motor Show. It rests on a custom-tailored carbon-fibre monocoque and, astonishingly, delivers CO2 emissions of just 98 grams/km. Effectively, it’s a heavily modified Aventador chassis with a Huracan motor and gearbox.

With a total of four motors, the coupe can’t even be called mid-engined anymore, even though it’s Huracan-derived V10 sits longitudinally ahead of the rear axle, with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission behind it. It’s rear-front-mid-engined, if anything.

The three electric motors, the battery systems and the control units add 250kg to the kerb weight of the Asterion LPI 910-4, which would otherwise weigh less than Lamborghini’s new Huracan. They also give the Asterion LPI 910-4 torque vectoring on the front axle as well as the rear to help it in corners.

Even its name is a hybrid, with Asterion being the more technically correct (for those from Crete, at least) term for the half man-half bull Minatour of Greek mythology. The “LPI” breaks down to “Longitudinale Posteriore” (a longitudinal engine at the back) and “Ibrido”, which is Italian for “hybrid”.

It’s also the start of a new, experimental design language for Lamborghini in a step away from its folded, creased, heavily angular looks of recent production and concept models.

It’s a look to the future and also harks back to the original Lamborghini 350GT with a more curvaceous surface treatment in a Blue Elektra paint scheme and 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels.

Designed in house at Lamborghini Centro Stile in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the Asterion LPI 910-4 marks a move away from sharp edges and towards seamless panel flows.

Its nose delivers a far less chiseled look than Lamborghini has seen since, well, the Espada or its first dalliance in the SUV market three decades ago. The single-piece front end delivers the Asterion LPI 910-4 a four-eyed menace made more dramatic by headlights crafted from carbon-fibre and titanium.

It uses active air intakes, which close to warm the V10 faster and keep it in its most effective temperature range more accurately, and sticks with the recent tradition of hexagons throughout the metal and titanium grille.

There is a clear cover over the engine compartment, giving the easy view of the V10 that Lamborghini usually charges extra for, though these are trickier than the normal optional pieces. The three hexagonal glass pieces change colour depending on whether the Asterion LPI 910-4 is being driven in its pure electric, hybrid or pure V10 powertrain modes.

The traditional scissor doors of the top-end Lamborghinis like the Aventador and the Murcielago have gone, replaced by outward opening doors and, in a move that reflects Lamborghini’s actual origins, the seats have higher hip points than normal and feel more grand tourer than hard-core sports car.

It has also replaced the standard multi-media screen with a portable tablet device to adjust the audio, the climate control and even to take care of the satellite navigation work.