A new braking system with carbon-ceramic discs is available as an option for the 2006 Lamborghini Murcielago. It's said to provide shorter stopping distances, increased resistance to fade and longer service intervals than the standard brake setup. Other new options this year include the Carbon Package and the Branding Package.
Formerly owned by Chrysler and later an Indonesian company called Megatech, the Italian exotic car company fondly known as Lamborghini is now owned by Audi/Volkswagen. In 2002, Lamborghini introduced a high-strung yet well-mannered bambino called Murcielago. As with some past Lambos, this car gets its name from a legendary fighting bull: in this case, one whose life was spared because of the extraordinary courage he displayed while in the ring.
The Murcielago (pronounced "Mercy-ell-ah-go") is Lamborghini's flagship and as such is essentially an evolution of the previous Diablo. Its 6.2-liter, V12 engine, mounted amidships, has numerous high-tech engineering features to help both maximum power and overall smoothness and tractability. Power is sent to all four wheels through a viscous all-wheel-drive system with limited-slip differentials at both ends. Underneath the carbon-fiber body panels (the roof and doors are still steel) is a tubular steel space frame. Last year, Lamborghini introduced a Murcielago roadster. It has additional structural bracing and auto-deploying rollover bars to compensate for the loss of the fixed roof.
From a practical standpoint (a concept applied loosely to any Lamborghini), the company's newer Gallardo is a better car. Its performance capability is very similar to that of the Murcielago, yet it's more comfortable and easier to drive. And it's cheaper. But we're pretty sure there will always be a place for a car like the Murcielago. More so than Mercedes-Benz's SL65 AMG and SLR McLaren or Aston Martin's V12 Vanquish, the Murcielago has an undeniable, big-and-brash street presence. It's a bit of a throwback to the way supercars used to be made, actually, though thankfully without the heavy controls and awful ergonomics. In spirit, the Countach and Diablo live on, and we're happy to see it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The exotic Lamborghini Murcielago is available as a coupe or a convertible. Both models come fully loaded with all the typical supercar trappings. Major standard equipment includes effective air conditioning, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power windows and locks, and a CD audio system. The suspension's damping can be adjusted, and one can also electronically raise the car's front suspension 45mm to avoid scraping the Murcielago's (normally) low-slung chin on driveway aprons. Optional upgrades include carbon-ceramic brakes, a navigation system, a carbon-fiber interior trim package, and various other ways to customize the interior trim and exterior paint.
Powertrains and Performance
A 6.2-liter, V12 engine fills the Murcielago's engine bay, and it makes 580 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 479 pound-feet of torque at 5,400. All that brute force is fed through a six-speed manual transmission and a full-time all-wheel-drive system. A paddle-shifted sequential gearbox, dubbed e-gear, is also available. Zero to 60 mph happens in about 3.8 seconds, and the car will run up to about 205 mph if given the room.
Huge ventilated disc brakes with antilock control bring this beast to a stop, and a sophisticated traction-control system helps keep it on the road.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Audi influence is obvious inside the Murcielago, with plenty of properly fitting leather and soft-touch materials. The roomy cockpit features comfortable seating that won't leave you reaching for the painkillers. Though not as flamboyant as the exterior, the interior styling is still befitting a vehicle that commands such a high price of admission. The convertible's removable canvas top is rather fussy to install or stow, and works better as an emergency shower cap rather than a truly functional top.
Modulating the clutch and touchy throttle takes some getting used to, and the optional sequential manual isn't as quick on the draw as we'd like. Similarly, the handling favors neutral understeer -- safe, but not ultrathrilling. Though the Murcielago borders on ponderous at low speeds, all shortcomings are quickly forgotten once the mighty V12 slingshots you into the next time zone.