Lamborghini’s hybrid high hopes

On the basis that Italian is the official language of fast,
beautiful cars, Lamborghini’s unabashed use of the word
ibrido (hybrid) at the launch of its latest concept should
silence any petrol hearts out there still in denial that the world
has seen the last of gas-chugging/carbon-spewing supercars.
That said, even in the world of hybrid F1 and Le Mans cars,
LaFerraris and Porsche 918s, it does still seem slightly
bizarre to be contemplating a Lamborghini hybrid, even if it
is now 17 years since the Mk I Toyota Prius.
You get the sense that it’s a slightly bizarre experience for
Lamborghini also; the concept,
called Asterion, doesn’t have the
reckless swagger we’ve come to
expect of Lamborghini. This, says
the company’s suave CEO Stephan
Winkelmann, is deliberate; the
Asterion is not designed to chase,
thrills, lap times and the tails of the
LaFerrari and the 918. Instead its
ibrido powertrain is programmed
to deliver a less visceral experience
than the V12 Aventador and V10
Huracan. It is, says Winkelman,
more of a GT.
Filippo Perini, head of design at Lamborghini, last year
completed a full cycle of new cars with the Huracan, which
replaced the Gallardo designed by his predecessor Luc
Donckerwolke (now at VW Group’s Bentley label).
The 2011 Aventador now looks in retrospect the high water
mark for Lamborghini’s intensely geometric phase; the
Huracan is visibly softer and the Asterion softer still. It still
has the ability to shock, mind you. In profile it appears to
carry a lot of weight between the cabin and the rear wheels, as
the 1976 Silhouette did (there are shades of another ‘70s
supercar in there also; the De Tomaso Pantera) Is this Perini
getting hip to the ‘70s supercar revival or is he trying to tell
us there is something different going on in there?
The powertrain uses the Huracan’s 5.2-litre V10, here rated at
just over 600bhp. However the Asterion has no less than three
electric motors, one for each front wheel and another between
the V10 and the seven-speed transmission. Together they can
add nearly 300bhp more to the output, taking it close to
900bhp maximum and, of course, four wheel drive. The
electrical power is stored in a lithium ion battery pack that
sits along the spine of the car, where the mechanical drive for
the front wheels would normally be. Engineering wise the
Asterion is based on the carbon fibre and aluminium structure
of the Huracan; philosophically the hybrid layout is borrowed
from yet another VW label, Porsche.
Lamborghini is running something of a deficit when it comes
to turning concepts into reality. The Estoque four-door was
shown in Paris six years ago now and is presumed dead. The
Urus SUV (first shown in China two years ago) has been
confirmed for production, although no date has yet been
given. The Asterion’s rear-heavy profile has an echo of the
Urus concept and you wouldn’t want to bet against the SUV
using some kind of ibrido powertrain; the longer the wait, the
more dated the idea of an old-school Lamborghini SUV seems

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