The world’s first “hyper cruiser” - the V10 plug-in hybrid Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 - has been unveiled ahead of its world premiere at the 2014 Paris motor show.
The Italian supercar specialist describes the new Asterion LPI 910-4 as a “technology demonstrator”, a show car that “could be realistically produced today, using technologies currently available and drawing on Lamborghini’s own expertise”.
The Asterion’s V10 plug-in hybrid powertrain is said to enable the show car from 0-100km/h in 3.0 seconds flat on its way to a top speed of 320km/h. However, Lamborghini claims it uses just 4.1 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres.
Readers familiar with Lamborghini’s naming structure will realise the digits 910-4 mean the Asterion boasts four-wheel drive and packs 910 horsepower – or 669kW. The LPI part of its name stands for “longitudinale posteriore ibrido”.
Getting the power to the ground is a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle gearbox, while the engine is mounted longitudinally amidships.
The Asterion manages that feat by combining the brand’s familiar 5.2-litre V10 petrol powerplant producing 449kW and 560Nm, which is teamed to three electric motors. One acts as a starter motor and generator, and two are placed at the front axle, feeding power to those wheels and doubling as a torque-vectoring system. Its lithium-ion battery pack is positioned in the transmission tunnel, and Lamborghini says the hybrid components add 250 kilograms.
The company claims the Asterion can drive up to 50 kilometres using electric power only by powering only the front wheels. Yep, a (sort of) front-drive Lambo, and EV mode allows it to run at up to 125km/h.
The company has stated that “the key for anticipating the future lies in a transformation and hybridisation of Lamborghini’s own DNA”.
Weight is said to be kept low by employing a carbonfibre monocoque, though no kerb weight has been made public, and it’s not currently clear if the car’s underpinnings have been used on any other Lamborghini product.
The styling of the car is something of a departure from its previous wedgy sports cars, with a more conservative look and a considerably more user-friendly approach.
The brand says the “Asterion’s doors are large, opening outwards and permit easy access to the car’s interior”, while offering more head room thanks to its more upright windscreen pillars, and “the two seats are positioned higher than those in Lamborghini super sports cars, ensuring a car for comfortable every day cruising rather than extreme performance and handling”.
A teaser campaign for the car lead us (and many others) to believe it could be a 2+2 model from Lamborghini, but no images have been shown of the cockpit from an angle that would allow us to see where two rear seats would fit. The interior features ivory and brown leather trim, while its steering wheel is influenced by the one used in the iconic Miura. The tiller includes drive mode buttons, with the driver able to choose between Zero (full electric, zero emissions), I for ‘ibrido’ (hybrid) and T for Termico (thermal) power.
According to a release from the brand, the Asterion “takes the design and cutting-edge engineering expertise found in the current Lamborghini product range, adding innovative technology, creating thus a Lamborghini that is clearly different – with a new, unexpected and sensual design, in line with the technical characteristics of the car – but yet is still unmistakeably a Lamborghini”.
The news of a plug-in hybrid model comes as something of a shock, particularly given what Lamborghini CEO Stefan Winkelmann told CarAdvice at the 2014 Geneva motor show in March. He panned the idea of an ultra-niche petrol-electric flagship model to take on the current crop of battery-backed supercars such as the Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari.
“What you see now – and I don’t want to be, let’s say, finger pointing – but what you see now in the world of the hybrids is not something which is going to be in normal production cars,” Winkelmann said at the time.
“This game is not, let’s say, fulfillable at the time being. And therefore I’m saying as long as it’s possible – in terms of technology – we’ll keep the DNA,” he said of the brand’s choice to retain only naturally aspirated engines.
“And the moment you really need it, then you have to deliver something that is acceptable in both senses, you know?
“So if [high-performance hybrid cars] is something, then it needs more time. It needs more time.
“As I said, it will be coming step by step – the biggest issue now is the development of the capacity of the batteries, but capacity is equal to weight,” he said.
However, in a release from the Italian brand, Winkelmann is quoted as saying that in order to reduce CO2 emissions, “plug-in electrification is the best option for us, because for Lamborghini such a car must still provide a truly emotional driving experience”.
While Winkelmann said in Geneva that the brand could access hybrid components from the Volkswagen Group – namely Audi – information from the brand makes it clear that this is a Lamborghini project.
“…We are constantly looking into this: naturally aspirated; turbo; turbo plus hybrid; turbo plus plug-in hybrid; or even electric. But electric, for me, the timing is not something the customer really is expecting even in a decade from now.”
Stay tuned for more on the Lamborghini Asterion from the 2014 Paris motor show.