Monday, August 21, 2006

2006 Lamborghini Murciélago LP640

Unlike Ferrari which does little to create drama around its new model unveils, Lamborghini kept its latest creation hidden under a crate on its stand in Geneva. After a few off-the-cuff remarks by Lamborghini executives, the box came off and the most powerful Lambo coupe in the lineup was revealed.

Lamborghini calls it the Murciélago LP640. It's an even higher-performance version of the standard Murciélago that some referred to as the "Enzo killer," a reference to Ferrari's top-of-the-line coupe. The Lamborghini's name is derived from the engine's configuration — longitudianle posteriore (LP), or longitudinally mounted in back — and the 640 horsepower the V12 develops at 8,000 rpm.That figure puts the LP640 a good 60 hp above the standard Murciélago, although its torque is only up by 5 to 484 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm. Still, Lambo says it's four-tenths quicker to 60 mph than the standard Murciélago and its top speed is up from 205 to 211 mph.

To generate the extra power, Lamborghini upped the engine's displacement from 6.2 to 6.5 liters, revised the cylinder heads, camshafts, exhaust and variable valve timing. A larger oil radiator helps keep the bigger engine cool and requires a visibly larger driver-side air intake. Heavy-duty driveline hardware was added to handle the increased power. Lamborghini calls the standard six-speed gearbox "modified," the differential "tougher" and the axle shafts "new."

The egear paddle-shifted automatic is also available. All-wheel drive remains standard with a 30/70 front-to-rear torque split that can vary up to 100 percent in either direction. Suspension modifications include revised springs and shocks and a reprogrammed electronic damper system. Like the standard Murciélago, ceramic carbon brakes are optional. Black "Hermera" wheels are the LP640's most obvious upgrade.

The 18-inch aluminum wheels come wrapped in 245/35R18 Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires up front and huge 335/30R18s in back. Optional race tires are available, with a set of snow tires in the works. Lamborghini claims new seats offer more room, but it's still a tight cockpit. New "Q-citura" leather is used throughout. There's a revised instrument panel with new graphics and an upgraded Kenwood stereo with a 6.5-inch monitor with DVD capability.

Sales of the Lamborghini LP640 are expected to begin this summer at a cost of around $350,000.

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