Source: Motor Trend
Written By: Angus MacKenzie
Photography By: Julia LaPalme
Written By: Angus MacKenzie
Photography By: Julia LaPalme
Quick! Grab your DVD of Steve McQueen's epic film, "Le Mans." Fast forward to the bit near the end where McQueen's Gulf Porsche 917 is chasing down the No. 8 Ferrari 512, and crank up the volume. There! That shot where the No. 8 Ferrari passes the stricken No. 5 car on the last lap. Listen... That's exactly what the Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce sounds like at 7000 rpm in fourth gear.
You're traveling at a shade over 116 mph in the low-slung Lambo at those revs. And you still have two gears to go. Oh, lordy... This is the supercar from central casting. Big. Loud. Fast.
Lamborghini launched the Murcielago way back in 2001 on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. The volcano was smoking gently as we flew in, and as we drove up the mountain some of the lava from an eruption mere weeks earlier was still cooling. It wasn't hard to figure out the subtext here: This car is meant to be intimidating. Handle with care.
Which is why the LP670-4 SV is such a surprise. It's the lightest, most powerful, fastest Murcielago ever built. Yet it allows us mortals to tip-toe closer to the very edge of its truly volcanic performance envelope than any big-banger Lambo in history. If any $450,000, 661-horsepower, 212-mph, hip-high wedge of weapons-grade testosterone could ever be called a pussycat, this is it. Well, up to a point.
The SV might look like a regular Murcielago with some styling cues from the megabuck Reventon tacked on, but the changes to this car go way more than skin deep. The regular Murcielago is built using a combination of carbon composites and tubular steel. For the SV, the metal bits were redone in a new super-high-strength sectional steel that increased torsional stiffness by 12 percent and saved 44 pounds. A new exhaust system saves 57 pounds.
The hand-finished interior is all carbon fiber and Alcantara (which Lamborghini claims is lighter than leather) and features hip-hugging, lightweight race-car bucket seats, saving a further 75lb. The front fenders, rear quarter panels, engine cover, and all the trick new aero bits, including the front spoiler and the huge "Aeropack" wing (a $7000 option that cuts the top speed to 209 mph but develops an awful lot of downforce) are made from carbon fiber. In conjunction with the removal of the drive unit for the moveable rear spoiler (a small fixed spoiler is standard on the SV), these help save 28 pounds. The SV tips the scales 220 pounds lighter than a regular Murcielago. But with its giant 26.4-gallon fuel tank brim full, it still weighs in at a hefty 3894 pounds.
Lamborghini's hugely charismatic 6.5-liter, 60 degree V-12 has been given a 30-horsepower bump courtesy of a modified intake system and optimization of the valve train. This mighty lump now churns out 661 American horsepower (or 670 European ponies, hence the name) at a howling 8000 rpm and 487 pound-feet of torque at 6500 rpm. The engine drives all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, available as the single-clutch E-Gear type or as a traditional stick, and limited slip front and rear differentials. The central viscous coupling sends up to 35 percent of the torque to the front wheels.
The peaky nature of the V-12 and the relatively tall gearing flatter to deceive: Initially, the SV feels strong, but not awe-inspiring. Once the tach needle sweeps past the 5000 rpm mark, however, it's like someone's fired the afterburner on an F/A-18: There's a solid shove between the shoulder blades, and the sonorous exhaust note gets an excitable edge. By 7500 rpm, it's like that Le Mans soundtrack shrieking through a stack of Marshall amps placed just behind your head, and as the horizon rushes toward you, you're getting ready to fan the upshift paddle before the engine slams into the rev limiter.
With a launch-controlled start, the E-Gear-equipped LP670-4 SV will sprint to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. The standing quarter is dispatched in 11.4 seconds at 125.8 mph. That's about what you'd expect.
What you don't expect is what happens when you punch the LP670-4 SV hard along a gnarly canyon road. Quick changes in direction and elevation, with corners diving and cresting and swooping in all directions; this is not traditional Murcielago territory. But the SV eats it up, cutting left and right like Jerry Rice in his prime, accelerating hard away from the clipping points and dancing over the rougher patches with remarkable composure. You only need the first two gears to destroy most switchback roads-second will take you north of 110 mph -- and if you manage to grab fourth gear on any short straight, that means you'll be closing in on 190 mph. Fast.
Fortunately, the massive carbon-ceramic brakes are more than up to the task. Just grenade the pedal, and the SV will leave you hanging in your seatbelt as it washes off speed like you popped the 'chute on a Top Fueler (our 60-to-0 stop took just 98 feet). There's initially more understeer than you'd like in slower, tighter turns, as the all-wheel-drive system struggles to optimize the torque paths, but the steering is remarkably communicative for an all-wheel-drive car; you can tell exactly what's happening at the front tire contact patch, and adjust your inputs accordingly.
As corner speeds rise, an otherwordly balance descends on the chassis, as the drivetrain, aerodynamics, and suspension begin working together beautifully. The SV will arrow through 50-mph bends at twice that velocity, feeling like it's bolted to the tarmac, talking to you the whole way around-and for the first time in a Murcielago, it's not whispering threats of grievous bodily harm. You never sense you're about to be overtaken by that big V-12 behind you midway through a turn, even if you have to lift off or the camber changes suddenly. Gone is the faint whiff of menace that has always made the Murcielago-and the Diablo and Countach before it-among the trickiest of supercars to drive fast. You don't need to fear the LP670-4 SV. You can trust it.
It's hard to believe the Lamborghini Murcielago is now eight years old. Luc Donckerwolcke's dramatic styling still looks more 21st century than anything Ferrari has done since the Enzo. But in other ways, it's showing its age.
The instruments are difficult to read, some of the switchgear is cheap and plasticky, and the aftermarket Kenwood head unit that doubles as a screen for the optional $4350 backup camera (which we'd take; one thing that hasn't changed since the Countach is the lack of rearward visibility) and the $4900 nav system (which we'd leave behind, along with the sound system) looks like something you'd find on the shelf at Pep Boys rather than in a car costing the thick end of half a million bucks. The hand-finished interior had a few wrinkles in the Alcantara roof lining, and there was a rattle from behind the expensive carbon fiber trim on the driver's door.
The car's biggest weakness, though, is the single-clutch electronically actuated manual transmission. Even in Corsa mode, it's slower than the state-of-the-moment dual-clutch manuals, with much more variability in shift quality -- full power first-second and second-third shifts thump home harder than a Mike Tyson right cross -- and you'll get only a handful of launch-control starts before the clutch cries uncle and demands a rest. The E-Gear system is still quicker than a conventional stickshift when you're driving the SV fast -- Lambo test drivers prefer it -- but you have to remember to treat the paddles like devices that move real pieces of metal instead of video-game controllers. Feathering the gas slightly on critical upshifts helps smooth forward progress.
For all that, it's hard not to love the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce. Yes, there are technically better supercars around. And yes, it's stupidly expensive -- our tester was priced at an eye-watering $480,325, and it is not four times as good as a ZR1 Corvette. But there's nothing -- nothing -- on the road that has the sheer theatrical presence of this Murcielago. It looks like a supercar. It sounds like a supercar. And it makes the driver feel like Superman.
2010 Lamborghini LP670-4 SuperVeloce
Base price - $452,995
Price as tested - $480,325
Vehicle layout - Mid-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe
Engine - 6.5L/661-hp/487-lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12
Transmission - 6-speed auto-clutch manual
Curb weight (f/r dist) - 3894 lb (42/58%)
Wheelbase - 104.9 in
Length x width x height - 185.2 x 81.0 x 44.7 in
0-60 mph - 3.2 sec
Quarter mile - 11.4 sec @ 125.8 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph - 98 ft
Lateral acceleration - 1.00 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight - 24.5 sec @ 0.81 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ - 8-9/13-14 mpg
CO2 emissions - 1.81-2.01 lb/mile