By Dave Abrahams
Paris Motor Show - This is how Lamborghini sees the future of the supercar: the Asterion LPI 910-4 - a plug-in hybrid concept with 669kW (910hp - hence the designation) on tap and a pure electric range of as much as 50km.
Actually, Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann calls the Asterion a “technology demonstrator, representing a Lamborghini model that could be realistically produced today, using technologies currently available and drawing on Lamborghini's own expertise”. Whether that means the show car is a runner we're not quite sure.
It’s built on a carbon-fibre monocoque, with a 5.2-litre petrol V10 delivering 449kW and 560Nm, mounted longitudinally as a mid-engine in standard Sant'Agata fashion, with a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle behind it.
Between the engine and gearbox, however, there's an integrated starter motor and generator, and there are two more electric motors on the front axle, fed by the generator, to provide permanent four-wheel drive, individually controlled to provide a built-in torque-vectoring function. The three electric motors contribute another 220kW, for a total of 669kW.
In pure electric mode only the two electric motors on the front wheels are used, powered by a long slim lithium-ion battery pack in what would normally be the transmission tunnel.
The battery pack and the three electric motors add 250kg to the weight of the car - but that's partly compensated for by the absence of the front drive-shaft and differential.
Lamborghini quotes 0-100 in three seconds flat and a top speed of 320km/h; top speed in pure electric mode is 125km/h - but don't expect to reach the putative 50km range on battery power if you use it. Claimed fuel-consumption in the NEDC combined cycle is a somewhat unrealistic 4.12 litres per 100km, emissions 98g/km.
The Asterion's styling is almost conservative - by Lamborghini standards anyway - more rounded than we are used to from the Raging Bull, with doors that open more outwards than upwards, much like a McLaren MP4-12C. Not so conservative, however, are the 20” front and 21” rear carbon-fibre rims, shod with ultra-low profile Pirellis.
Thanks to more upright A pillars and windshield, the seating position is more upright than on current Lamborghinis, making getting in and out is less of a contortion than with the Aventador. Lamborghini sees this as a Gran Turismo cruiser, rather than a track-day special.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Asterion was the actual name of the minotaur - half man, half bull - that lived in the labyrinth beneath the palace of Knossos in Crete, until it was slain by the Greek hero Theseus. The choice of name, according to Winkelmann, emphasises the hybrid nature of the concept.
The rest of the designation is standard Lamborghini nomenclature: LPI stands for 'Longitudinale Posteriore Ibrido', 910 is the power rating in metric horsepower and the '-4' denotes permanent all-wheel drive.