Lamborghini goes plug-in hybrid with 910-hp Asterion concept

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The Lamborghini Asterion in Paris (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

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Lamborghini has long been on the cutting edge of auto technology in terms of potent powertrains and lightweight materials. However, its colleagues over at McLaren and Ferrari have it beat when it comes to electrification, each having introduced a hybrid flagship at last year's Geneva Motor Show. In Paris, Lamborghini officially surpassed those marques, presenting its very first hybrid, a 910-hp plug-in with more than 30 miles (50 km) of all-electric driving range.

Lamborghini's Asterion LPI 910-4 offers power on par with the LeFerrari (we still cringe at referencing that model name) and McLaren P1, but its plug-in hybrid drive provides a respectable all-electric range of 31 miles (50 km). That range is more on par with the 38-mile (61-km) Chevy Volt than it is with the 6.2-mile (10-km) P1 (the LeFerrari doesn't have a full-electric mode).

For those well-versed in Lamborghini nomenclature, the "I" inside the familiar "Longitudinale Posteriore" HP-4WD format stands out like a sore thumb. It stands for "ibrido," Italian for hybrid, and as Lamborghini's first hybrid, it's the first model to need the I.

As to that ibrido, the Asterion packages the Huracán's 610-hp 5.2-liter V10 engine, mounted longitudinally amidships, with two front-mounted electric motors and a third sitting between the V10 and the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. That last unit incorporates a starter motor and generator, and works with the engine and front motors in hybrid 4WD mode. There is also an all-electric FWD mode and gas engine mode. All in, the four power plants offer 910 horses and combine to get the car rolling from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a flat 3 seconds, on to a top speed of 199 mph (320 km/h). Lamborghini lists the fuel economy at 4.1L/100 km (57 mpg).

"Lamborghini continues to focus on weight reduction as a means to reducing CO2, for example through the investment in carbon fiber engineering, which also contributes to our quest for the best super sports car handling and performance," says Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann. "To significantly reduce emissions on a car in this moment, however, plug-in electrification is the best option for us, because for Lamborghini such a car must still provide a truly emotional driving experience. In the Asterion this is guaranteed through a naturally aspirated engine that is combined with PHEV technology, which not only offers exceptionally low CO2 emissions of 98 g/km, but a practical pure electric driving range of 50 km."

Lamborghini refers to the Asterion as a technology demonstrator, but the car also puts on a demonstration in styling, experimenting with more rear-slung proportions than we're used to seeing from Sant'Agata Bolognese. In fact, when Lamborghini released a shadowy teaser of the profile a couple weeks ago, speculation suggested it might be a new take on the Estoque sedan concept. Instead, it's a two-seat two-door with an extended roofline that arrows straight back into a muscular rear-end.

The front windshield stands more upright than on the typical Aventador or Huracán, and the resulting dimensions give the car the proverbial "pouncing cat" look that is ever-popular with auto designers. We think Lamborghini would do well to incorporate such styling into its production line, providing a bit more visual distinction between models.

Other styling elements worth mentioning include the "eyes with eyebrows" headlights, double-grid front air intakes, embedded mud guards and transparent engine cover. The car is painted in "Blue Elektra" and rides on Pirelli tires on 20/21-in rims.

Inside, the two seats are set higher than on a typical Lamborghini sports car, a detail added to enhance the everyday nature of the hybrid design. Ivory and brown leather combine with carbon fiber, aluminum and titanium to give the minimalistic interior the premium feel of a 900-hp supercar. A portable tablet provides climate and infotainment control, while driving mode is controlled via buttons on the Miura-inspired three-spoke steering wheel.

Lamborghini's press release doesn't list a weight for the Asterion, but it does say that the car is built on a carbon fiber monocoque. The lithium-ion battery is mounted lengthwise in the central tunnel area, providing superior weight balance and better crash protection.

Lamborghini gives no indication on the possibility of getting an Asterion-derived hybrid supercar into the driveways of its customers, but the show car is a lucid first step if it has such a plan.

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