Massively powerful, definitively flamboyant and as eyeball-grabbing as an A-list Hollywood celebrity, the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 firmly embodies the spirit and meaning of the word "supercar." Big and brashly styled, it has an undeniable street presence that few other contemporaries match.
In Spanish, Murcielago means "bat," though Lamborghini says the name actually refers to a 19th-century Spanish bull that earned fame through its courageous nature in a bullfight. As Lamborghini's top sports car from 2002-'10, the Murcielago carried on the tradition laid down by its V12-powered predecessors, including the Miura, Countach and Diablo. It wasn't a particularly easy car to drive or, given its approximate $300,000 as-new price, an easy car to obtain. Then again, that was all part of the appeal.
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The Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 was offered in two body styles -- coupe or convertible -- and both were powered by a 6.5-liter V12 engine. Positioned amidships, it produced 632 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque. While the car's basic form was introduced in 2002, it underwent major changes for 2007, including the addendum to its name, LP640, which referred to its engine position en Italiano (longitudinale posteriore) and that it made 640 European hp (ps). Prior to this, output was listed at 580 hp and 478 lb-ft of torque. For 2010, a special-edition LP670-4 SuperVeloce was introduced that produced 661 hp and was limited to only 350 examples.
Feeding and cooling its powerful engine were a variety of scoops and ducts, including two electronically controlled air scoops that automatically raised from the car's rear haunches when needed. Power was sent through an all-wheel-drive system. A six-speed manual transmission was standard, and e-gear -- a paddle-shifted automated-clutch manual gearbox -- was available as an option.
The Lamborghini Murcielago's top speed was in excess of 200 mph. All body panels except the roof and doors were constructed of ultra-lightweight carbon fiber. The suspension featured electronic adjustable damping, which raised the car's front suspension 45mm to avoid scraping the Murcielago's (normally) low-slung chin on driveways and inclines.
In contrast to the wildly styled exterior, which included the trademark Lamborghini scissor doors, the Murcielago's interior was an exercise in simplicity. The seats were supportive and comfortable, though difficult to get into. Standard equipment included air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power windows and locks, and an audio system with CD player. Options included a touchscreen navigation system and a variety of custom accents for the interior, including carbon fiber.
The Roadster featured a cloth roof panel that sat atop the cockpit like a toupee and took several minutes and a great degree of difficulty to erect. Lamborghini also suggested not exceeding 100 mph, as the roof tended to fly off -- the owner's own toupee would have followed shortly thereafter. The LP670-4 SuperVeloce received matte-black paint accents, slightly revised body elements, a transparent engine cover, the choice of a larger fixed rear wing and carbon-fiber and Alcantara interior trim.
In road tests and reviews, we found the Lamborghini Murcielago drove every bit like the supercar that it was. Its trucklike amble at low revs gave little clue as to the apocalyptic power delivery that awaited. At full throttle, there was a quick surge at 3,000 rpm, which gained urgency at 4,500 as the exhaust cleared its throat. This thrust was followed by the all-wheel-drive system shuttling torque to the rear and the most magnificent feral yowl up to redline. You could feel the accelerative Gs weighting your fingertips, the scenery exploding through the widescreen windshield. Handling, though never known as a Murcielago strength due to the car's size and weight, was still quite impressive.
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