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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lamborghini Asterion concept: 910 hp, with the mileage of a Prius


Lamborghini Asterion Concept
Lamborghinis have a proper reputation for the supercars of the rich and wild, but mechanically they have been somewhat conservative — in the original William F. Buckley sense of standing athwart history yelling "stop!"
While Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren turned to hybrids and turbocharging, Lamborghinis have remained refreshingly powered by 10- or 12-cylinder engines that never feared of wasting a little power in the cause of driving enjoyment.
That changed today at the Paris Motor Show, where Lamborghini showed off a concept it labeled the Asterion LPI 910-4, a graceful coupe that suggests how Lamborghini might build its first plug-in hybrid and not lose its soul in the process.

The Asterion does not give up the traditional Lambo engine; there's still a 5.2-liter V-10 midships linked to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

 What's new is the addition of three electric motors; one to act as a starter-generator on the engine and two on the front axle, providing the all-wheel-drive serivce. The lithium-ion battery stored in the tunnel where the transmission would normally go has enough juice to carry the Asterion some 31 miles on electricity only.

The extra weigth of the electric system comes with the offset of not having a mechanical all-wheel-drive. Lamborghini says the combined system can produce 910 hp at max, enough to propel it to 62 mph in three seconds flat. And those batteries help give the Asterion a fuel economy roughly comparable to that of a Toyota Prius.

It's not the powertrain that makes me think Lamborghini is serious, but the form of the body. The Aventador and Huracan attract buyers who want hard-core Lamborghini performance; the Asterion suggests a calmer, more luxurious ride. The fact that its styling tends toward the production ready also hints that it's more a piece of Lamborghini's future than a soon-to-be historical relic.