Approximately 250 Murciélagos have reached U.S. customers since this Italian supercar went on sale in 2002. To exotic sports-car enthusiasts, though, the mere sight of one inspires fantasies.
Equipped with permanent all-wheel drive, the Murciélago holds a 571-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-12 engine. Lamborghini claims the Murciélago can roar from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and reach a top speed beyond 205 mph.
For 2004, Lamborghini’s six-speed-manual transmission can be operated by a new “E-gear” system that eliminates the clutch pedal. This robotized gearbox delivers electrohydraulic sequential shifting. Twin paddles on the steering column yield upshifts and downshifts, while a Reverse button is mounted on the dashboard.
A limited-edition model marks the company’s 40th anniversary. Starting in 2004, Lamborghini will also offer an R-GT edition for racing in FIA-GT competition. An open-roofed Murciélago is likely to appear in about two years.
Lamborghini now offers a second, less expensive model called the Gallardo. Though owned by Audi AG since 1998, Automobili Lamborghini functions as a separate entity. Nineteen U.S. and two Canadian dealers get nearly one-third of the Murciélagos produced in Sant’Agata, Italy.
Somewhat angular in appearance but accented with lush curves, the Murciélago may remind viewers of the automaker’s bizarre-looking Countach, which preceded the Diablo in Lamborghini’s model lineage. With a wedge-shaped profile like the Diablo, the Murciélago features scissors-style doors hinged above the front wheel wells as well as a cockpit that the automaker says is seamlessly integrated into the body.
Other than the steel roof and door panels, the car’s bodywork is composed largely of carbon fiber and is built over a frame made of high-strength steel tubing. Weight distribution is 42 percent in the front and 58 percent at the rear. Aluminum-alloy wheels hold 18-inch Pirelli tires that are wider at the rear.
The mirrors may be folded back electronically and are mounted on long arms that allow the driver to see beyond the prominent rear fenders. A variety of visible air intakes and vents help cool the V-12 engine and the brakes. Two active intakes at the rear use a Variable Airflow Cooling System that permits changes in the aperture to suit different driving conditions. The rear spoiler can move into three distinct positions.
Two occupants get leather-upholstered seats. The driver faces a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel. Lamborghini says the chassis is lower and the door-opening angle is greater in the Murciélago than in the previous Diablo, making entry and exit a little easier. The instruments are grouped on a single, electronically controlled panel. A satellite-based navigation system is optional.
Under the Hood
The mid-engine Murciélago packs a 6.2-liter V-12 that cranks out 571 hp. A six-speed-manual transmission sits ahead of the engine and can now be operated by Lamborghini’s “E-gear” sequential-shifting system, which lacks a clutch pedal. Permanent four-wheel drive employs a central viscous coupling. Rather than a direct mechanical connection to the gas pedal, a drive-by-wire electronic throttle control system is used.
All-disc Brembo antilock brakes are standard. The passenger-side front airbag offers dual-stage inflation.