Matt Davis, European Correspondent
Just as when we drove the Gallardo Superleggera back in April 2007 at a track outside of Milan, Italy, this 2010 Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SuperVeloce has us a-twitter before we even get in to put it through its paces. All you need to do is look at this exercise in aesthetics and, knowing that all recent Lamborghinis deliver on their looks, the endorphin rush that awaits us is vividly anticipated.
At 661 horsepower, we're up by 30 hp from the 631 hp of the stock Murciélago LP640, while torque remains the same at 487 pound-feet, peaking at 6,500 rpm from the naturally aspirated 6,496cc V12 mounted rear amidships. (The LP stands for "Longitudinale Posteriore," meaning the engine is mounted longitudinally and in back.) Lamborghini engineers estimate that acceleration to 60 mph is quicker by 0.2 of a second to 3 seconds flat. Top speed can be as high as 212 mph if you specify the standard rear wing versus this galactic AeroPack wing that allows just 209 mph.
At the moment, we're itching to drive the flatlands around company HQ in this 2010 Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SuperVeloce painted in Arancio Atlas (Atlas Orange).
Pretty Light for a V12 The guys could have just added power and a wing and left it at that like in the old days, but the composites experts at Lamborghini also had their hands in the SuperVeloce. Overall weight drops by 220 pounds to 3,450 pounds (dry). This is just 5.2 pounds per horse, which is relatively nuts.
From the chassis and body we lose 73 pounds, and the composites work begins with a larger front splitter mounted slightly farther forward. Then comes the flat underbody panel in carbon composite, and the two front-quarter panels and larger rear-quarter panels are made with a much-lightened carbon-plastic resin. The rear engine cover (its appearance inspired by the limited-edition 2008 Reventón), has a surround made from carbon fiber while the transparent hexagonal panels are made from a light polycarbonate plastic used in racing. That humungous AeroPack rear wing (71 inches wide and with an airfoil that's 11 inches deep) is pure carbon fiber and stands on two 7-inch stanchions that are carbon fiber as well.
The V12 powertrain then does its bit in the weight reduction department by shedding 73 pounds. Some 15 pounds of this comes from the revised Marelli/Graziano single-clutch automated manual transmission, while much of the remaining 58 pounds comes from an utterly stunning new exhaust system. The exhaust's two end pipes terminate in a single, showcar-style rhomboid megatip coated in gray ceramics for heat protection (oh, had you only been with us to hear the sound and fury at wide-open throttle).
Finally, the remaining 74 pounds of added lightness have come out of the passenger cabin. The inner door panels and metal tunnel cover are now made from lacquered carbon fiber, and a bunch of weight has been saved by ditching the napa leather upholstery and substituting wonderfully comfy and grippy artificial suede. The single-piece performance seats also have carbon-fiber frames, but sadly the U.S. can't get the four-point seatbelts we were using all day in Italy.
Add a Dash of Stiff Another very noticeable touch in the 2010 Lamborghini LP 670-4 SuperVeloce is something unseen. The engineers have used a carbon-resin coating at stress points in the chassis of high-tensile steel tubes, improving structural rigidity by 12 percent. It's particularly evident when we hammer the throttle or crank the small-diameter steering wheel through countryside chicanes.
And though overall the SV's suspension does not change at all, the fact that so many other things are affecting its behavior makes the damping setup feel even better suited to this high-performance application. So when it's working with the bodywork's combination of aerodynamic downforce and ground effects at speeds of 75 mph and higher, the SuperVeloce feels fairly painted to the pavement.
Strapping In We only rammed our forehead into the top of the door jambs and into the bottom of the opened scissor doors a dozen times or so during our full-day foray across a hot Emilia-Romagna region, so the Murciélago's reputation for discomfort at a price remains reassuringly intact. It's all very Italian and we'd get angry, we think, if the door scheme changed to be more like the Gallardo/Audi R8 people's car.
The single-piece seats with their very pronounced bolsters adjust only fore and aft — and do so manually — but the steering wheel of the Murc has a famously wide range of up-down and fore-aft adjustability, so it's easy to get our cockpit just the way we need it prior to takeoff. Once there, the four-point harness really socks us in tight and makes it impossible to reach anything but the steering wheel and vital controls. This is one more reason why Lamborghini should use a start button, as we could barely reach the key fob once sutured in place.
After meandering our way through the various levels of security clearance to deactivate the Lamborghini's car alarms and reactivate the engine, we finally get ignition. The starter takes a few seconds of wind-up and then comes the flare of 12 cylinders roaring to life with the throaty enthusiasm of a chain smoker. Once under way, we know drama is happening out back, but, as with any closed car with a huge backyard, we only know the extent of the havoc from the looks on the faces of people on the sidewalk. Apparently the SuperVeloce's new lightweight pipes give new meaning to the term "afterburner."
SuperSteady, Too While slinging along at around 120-150 mph on some barren rural roads, what comes through from the SuperVeloce is an added steadiness that is quite welcome. The larger front intakes and exaggerated splitter do wonders in this regard, and also cool the standard 15-inch carbon-ceramic brake discs with six-pot calipers. There's also a new vent over the wheelwells to extract heat from the brakes. Needless to say, all this was pretty reassuring as we indulged in late-braking maneuvers all through the hot day.
Switching off the traction control system and poking the Corsa button that quickens gearchanges from the six-speed automated manual transmission to one-tenth of a second, we had opportunities to reach even hairier limits with this big baby. With a car this size, your reflexes have to be lightning fast to pull it off, so we chose to keep the stability control engaged until we can test the SuperVeloce on a closed circuit. Because she's a handful, much as we expected (and just as customers prefer).
The Murc has a major set of Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires — 245/35ZR18 front, 335/30ZR18 rear — on forged wheels with a double five-spoke design called "Ares." Working together with the all-wheel-drive system (the torque proportion is 25 percent front/75 percent rear), this assures an instantaneous, sure-footed hookup on all road surfaces.
Always a Market Some 350 examples of the 2010 Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SuperVeloce will be built between now and early 2010, and the U.S. models should start touching down here by late July. Though yet to be determined, Lamborghini says pricing should begin at around $457,500, or a little more than $100K above the Murciélago LP640 coupe, and one-third the price of last year's pre-economic-crisis Reventón.
Besides the choice between the standard and AeroPack mega wing, customers can also request the six-speed manual shifter in lieu of the wildly popular e-gear automated shifting with its carbon-fiber shift paddles.
The last time Lamborghini cranked out a car with an SV badge was in 1999, when the Diablo SV was launched back in the days of pre-Audi ownership. Traditionally an SV version signals the final hurrah before one generation ends and the next is launched, so we'll wait to see what Lamborghini shows us this year or next. Stay tuned for a totally new Murciélago design for 2011.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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