LAMBORGHINI USED to be the naughty boy in the supercar classroom. Devilish creations such as the Countach and Diablo were styled as savagely as they were driven, which led many to an early appointment with the scrapheap.
But since Audi took over the company in 1998 the wild child has grown up. This means the radio now works and you no longer need a chiropractor after each drive.
Now we have the Asterion, a plug-in hybrid-powered concept car that’s designed for “daily drivability and comfort” with a pure electric range of 30 miles and overall fuel economy of 69mpg. Has Lamborghini gone soft?
The company will argue that it is responding to the demands of the modern world. No longer can supercar firms rely on selling a handful of outlandish two-seaters that boost international oil prices with each one that’s sold. Instead they must stress their eco-credentials, with a nervous glance over their shoulder at EU regulators.
That’s only the official line, though. Asterion is another name for the Minotaur, the part-man and part-bull of Greek myth. Look past the marketing blurb and you’ll see that the Asterion is a hybrid in more ways than one, mating the carbon-fibre chassis from the Aventador with the V10 engine from the new — and smaller — Huracan. This, combined with the electric drive system, is cloaked in a new lightweight body.
What that means when you floor the throttle is that two motors at the front axle and another towards the rear deliver 295bhp, while the 5.2-litre V10 sends 602bhp to the rear. From 0 to 62mph takes three seconds and the car doesn’t stop until it gets to 199mph. Lamborghini calls this “exceptional dynamic impulse”. Drivers might just whimper. The combined hybrid power of 897bhp is on a par with the 903bhp McLaren P1 hypercar.
It still may not satisfy purists who will forever lament the wild, high-octane ride of Lamborghinis of old. But if goes into production — and the company hints that it will — it will propel Lamborghini into the hybrid supercar set where the likes of the Porsche 918 Spyder and the Ferrari LaFerrari have already demonstrated that high performance these days needs electricity as much as hydrocarbons.