Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

There’s a lot to be said for cowardice. Nobody ever died from refusing to freefall from a Cessna. Weigh up the statistics of those who’ve perished in battle against those who’ve been shot for not turning up – the results are heavily in favour of the guys cowering under the table.

Bravery, however, also has its merits. For one thing, it’s a fantastic way to impress the opposite sex – look at Murciélago, a particularly courageous bull whose formidable manliness (well, bull-liness) in the ring in 19th century Cordoba meant his life was spared. What happened to him? He mated with seventy cows.

Fitting, then, that Lamborghini’s 21st century bruiser should appropriate the moniker… just look at it. Behold the chiselled cheekbones, the trademark scissor doors, the exhaust you could fit your head in. The Murciélago is by no means shy.

Of course, the party piece is the sonorous V12 nestling snugly behind the cockpit. Lamborghini – whose humble beginnings stemmed from tractor manufacturing, let’s not forget – have not done a bad job with it. Its roots lying in the ’66 Miura (which everybody knows is the most beautiful car of all time, obviously), Lambo’s V12 was built pretty much out of spite. The apocryphal tale of Ferrucio Lamborghini setting up shop in deference to Enzo Ferrari after a personal dispute has little truth in it, but it’s a fact that Señor Ferrari had a certain distaste for having to manufacture road cars in the early days. This quirk allowed Lamborghini to sneak in the back door with a ferocious Bizzarini-designed quad-cam V12, the essence of which lives on in the Murciélago. It may produce 580bhp in modern 6.2 litre guise, but that’s not the most important thing; the sound it makes is phenomenal. Simply phenomenal. It’s like an enthused choir of angels being violated by a particularly courageous bull…

The Murciélago perfectly embodies the classic spirit of the supercar – it’s an event, pure and simple. Supercars need to have certain ingredients – a beefy huge-displacement engine, achingly beautiful and unmistakeable bodywork, a criminally alluring soundtrack; they make people stare. If you drive one down Oxford Street, everyone will watch you pass. Do the same on the M2 and nobody will, but only because you’re going too fast for them to see you.

The LP640 is a spectacular distillation of the marque. Like Porsche’s GT3 reworking of the 911, the Murciélago LP640 takes an already fruity formula and sprinkles on a little spice. Let the figures speak for themselves: 6.5 litres. 640bhp. 211mph. 0-60 in 3.4s. In these modern times of ready power and sledgehammer performance it’s easy to toss figures like these around, but just sit back and drink it in for a moment. Picture yourself swinging down the vertical door, cocooning yourself in sumptuous Italian leather, snicking the billet gearstick through the aluminium gate… and suddenly being several miles from where you started without really knowing how you got there because the scenery went all blurry. Kind of like that bit in Spaceballs where they go to ‘ludicrous speed’.

There’s all kinds of car porn strapped to the LP640. Some panels have been replaced by carbon fibre moulds. The constantly-variable torque-biasing four-wheel-drive system is bloody clever. To minimize lift, the reprofiled exhaust has been moulded into the diffuser. The cooling vents on the rear flanks open and close themselves. It’s got launch control. Launch control, in a road car…!

And all this for a bargain £190,000 – which could also buy you a studio flat in Southwark. I know which I’d have a better time in.

1 comment:

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