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Lamborghini Gets Serious About Beating Its Long-Time Rival


Lamborghini was absorbed by Audi in 1998 and for almost 20 years, the Germans have kept the raging bull on a short leash, restricting the portfolio to multiple versions of two essentially unrelated models, Murcielago/Aventador and Gallardo/Huracan. Under charismatic CEO Stephan Winkelmann, replaced by Stefano Domenicali in 2016, Lamborghini had attempted to revive the legendary Miura and add the four-door Estoque to the lineup, but both attempts ended in failure.

The breakthrough happened in 2012, when the Urus concept was met with such enthusiasm that a production version was greenlit to debut in 2018. Loosely based on Porsche’s third-gen Cayenne and Audi’s latest Q7, the Urus will be offered with a choice of engines ranging from a 458-hp V-6 plug-in hybrid to a 4.0-liter V-8 that will develop 660 hp in the Performante model. Once production is in full swing, the hyper-SUV is expected to almost double Lamborghini sales to more that 6000 vehicles a year.

So far, so predictable, but beyond that, the picture gets a little cloudy. According to the Sant’Agata grapevine, there is talk of shifting control of Lambo to Porsche. At the same time, the rumor mill in Wolfsburg suggests Audi will also move under Porsche’s control, joining Bentley and Bugatti. Such an arrangement would leave the individual brand identities untouched while creating a variety of synergy effects.

In the meantime, the Huracan lineup will be given more muscle, with Speedster and Barchetta versions coming, along with a hardcore SV model and an even hotter GT3 Stradale. There’ll also be a Huracan Targa to complement the roadster and a lightweight Superleggera version.

But the most audacious iteration by far will the Huracan Safari, which will feature a height adjustable suspension, bigger wheel arches, all-terrain body protection panels, all-wheel drive, and four-wheel steering. While not ready to tackle the Rubicon, Lamborghini R&D claims the almost go-anywhere Huracan—which will be available in coupé and roadster form—is absolutely unbeatable on rough Italian C-roads where ground clearance and wheel travel are essential.

The first all-new Lamborghini developed on Domenicali’s watch will be the Aventador replacement expected in 2020. Codenamed LB634/635 (coupé/roadster) it will be an extensive evolution of the current concept, so don’t fear a Huracan on steriods or an Italian Porsche 960. While the charismatic V-10 will eventually bite the dust, the classic V-12 will soldier on, and on. A 6.0-liter, twin-turbo version, rated—on paper—at 900 hp, was briefly considered, but Lamborghini planners instead opted for a naturally aspirated 7.0-liter powerplant that has reportedly made 800 hp on the dyno. Not quite brutal enough? Maybe, but when Lamborghini throws in electric front-wheel drive with 160 hp minimum per wheel, more than 1000 hp and 885 lb-ft should be plenty of grunt.

The Aventador MkII features a lightweight evolution of the extremely stiff mono-fuselage carbon-fiber tub that stuffs the transmission tunnel with batteries, and/or the fuel tank and the propshaft for a low centre of gravity and a neatly balanced weight distribution. Early on in the development process, engineers experimented with a Miura-style transversely-mounted V-12, but what they gained in packaging was lost in complexity.

Like the Huracan Performante, the top-of-the-range Aventador boasts active aerodynamics, every conceivable piece of chassis-related electronic wizardry, bigger brakes, more exotic materials, and relatively competitive connectivity. A slightly less expensive 700hp V-8 plug-in hybrid model is a possible addition to the new Aventador family, but brawny SV, lightweight Essenza, and barely street-legal Jota variants are definitely in the mix.

Scheduled to arrive about a year after the new Aventador is the next-gen Huracan. Unlike the current model, which is twinned with the Audi R8 using the so-called MSS matrix, the new Huracan reportedly moves closer in concept to its V-12 stablemate.

As the current Huracan’s V-10 goes goes away when MSS is retired, the smaller mid-engined Lambo will switch to the Porsche-sourced 4.0-liter V-8, this time rated at 650 hp. An electric power pack will potentially deliver a total output of up to 900 hp on some models. There is only so much torque four tires can convert into traction, so expect a 0-60 mph acceleration time of about 2.5 sec. Tires and downforce will restrict top speed to about 220 mph.

As far as the chassis is concerned, we believe that the Huracan II will adopt the Aventador’s light and rigid mono-fuselage layout, together with the double-wishbone suspension, brand new electro-hydraulic steering, and carbon-ceramic brakes.



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