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Lamborghini LP640 - First Drive

The appropriately medieval Murcielago up-do

Sam Hill
Sep 25, 2006
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0610_EC_14Z+Lamborghini_LP640+driving_side_view Photo 1/5   |   Lamborghini LP640 - First Drive

If you ever want a seriously good time in the sun, go to a Lamborghini get-together somewhere on the European mainland. They are still predominantly highly organized groups of people with more money than good taste. NBA brothers, Saudi oil-mongers, gold-loving sultans from Brunei, and self-adoring South Korean dictators with haircuts like Moe Howard. They're all there.

It's amazing in particular to see what awful taste the Swiss often have in modern exotics. I've seen purple-metallic Diablos with enough wings on them to dig a tunnel with downforce. And if the wingage doesn't drag them under, the tonnage of salmon-y tanned skin and bad "jewelry" will.

This is the iffy cross-section of moneyed society through which the new German-managed Lamborghini company must gingerly wind its way without offending or rejecting these faithful 1970s throw-back trash people.

So, I drove the raging new Murcilago LP640 (for longitudinale posteriore, or longitudinal rear, 640 horsepower) and had no idea what I was looking for. I love the Murcilago already-as do, so they confess, all of the Italian workers at Lamborghini more than the overtly Saxon Gallardo-and don't want to see it get too reined in under German occupation.

Technically, to account for our SAE power versus the international DIN rating, this car in the United States should be called Murcilago LP631. Lamborghini did this upgrade from the former 580 bhp (really 572 bhp) 6.2-liter engine, primarily due to the '06 Gallardo getting handed 520 bhp (513 bhp). The two were too close for the marketing department's comfort.

This fresh 6.5-liter V12 is a roaring meat wagon for two, happy to say. Given the insufficiencies still of the Lambo E-gear sequential paddle box, I was relieved as all get-out that my LP640 had the highly arousing tall machined metal shifter of the notchy six-speed manual. Mastering this exquisite shift connection at high revs is eventually like butter-and then there's always that satisfying click once you're in. So macho.

To handle the added heat of a 6.5-liter V12 that needs to rev more than 8000 rpm much of the time, the opening for the left side intake is bigger now to increase cooling via the larger radiator put there for engine oil chilling. Transitions at the throttle-by-wire are made smoother now, thanks to a better action from the variable intake and exhaust valves. Cam profiles have altered, and the crankshaft has been baked for more strength.

Outside, every chunky corner has been smoothed a bit, the taillight design goes better with the shape, and the restyled exhaust mouth now pokes through the diffuser to make the girls and boys go ooh. That new wheel design-called Hermera-takes the rear alloy to even higher heights on my supercar altar. You can also now order a glass rear lid to put your motor on public display. The interior gets a makeover with "Q-citura" diamond-stitch leather on the seats, door panels, roof lining, and rear wall.

This fresh beast gets to 60 mph from parked in just 3.3 seconds. It is now officially the most powerful exotic currently on any production line. Thank goodness for the optional 15-inch ceramic rotors at $13,000 pre-tax.

Four hundred LP640s will be built per year, and ours started delivering this summer.


Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

0610_EC_16Z+Lamborghini_LP640+engine Photo 2/5   |   Lamborghini LP640 - First Drive

Layout
Longitudinal mid engine, all-wheel drive

Engine
6.5-liter V12, dohc, four valves per cylinder

Transmission
Six-speed manual

Dimensions
Length x Width x Height (in.): 181.5 x 81.0 x 44.7
Wheelbase: 104.9 in.
Curb Weight: 3,869 lb

Performance
Peak Power: 631 bhp @ 8000 rpm
Peak Torque: 487 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
0-60 mph: 3.3 sec.
Top Speed: 211 mph

Why we love it:
Re-tuned V12 with 60 more horsepower, re-styled rear end is as cool as they come

Why we don't:
Buying one is going to hit our lunch budget pretty hard

The Price Tag:$320,000

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By Sam Hill
3 Articles

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