Controversial – that's about the nicest way we can describe Lamborghini's 50th anniversary efforts on the concept car front. Just two months after showing the Veneno – arguably the most extreme(ly ugly) concept in its history – Lamborghini pushes the boundaries even further. The surprise Egoista concept is even more out there in design.
Making its debut this past weekend during Lamborghini's 50th anniversary celebration, the Egoista looks like the work of a creative (or deranged) design student. But it's actually a sort of birthday "gift" from Lambo's parent company, with Volkswagen Group design chief Walter De Silva leading the team that created the radical concept.
The scene of the weekend debut was "emotional," according to Lamborghini. What specific emotions were involved is left to our imaginations, and shock, disbelief, anger, and maybe a tad of abandonment and rage on the part of onlookers comes to mind.
Lamborghini borrowed from the Gallardo in giving the Egoista a 600-hp version of its 5.2-liter V10 engine. It didn't provide any additional powertrain or performance specifications, treating the Egoista more like a design study.
Even without translating "egoista" from Italian to English (it means "selfish"), the name conveys a certain sense of hubris and self indulgence, as in "whoever drives this assault on the pupils must be dominated by ego." To emphasize that selfishness, the car features a tiny cockpit enveloping a single driver.
De Silva explained the self-indulgent Egoista demographic further: "“This is a car made for one person only, to allow them to have fun and express their personality to the maximum. It is designed purely for hyper-sophisticated people who want only the most extreme and special things in the world. It represents hedonism taken to the extreme, it is a car without compromises, in a word: egoista (selfish)."
The single-person cockpit was inspired by the Apache helicopter, which has an emergency ejection feature. While the Egoista won't project its driver skywards to safety, De Silva's VW design team took pains to clearly delineate the cockpit from the exterior of the vehicle. It includes a single racing seat with four-point harness and a jet-fighter-like head-up display.
"The cockpit, made completely of carbon fiber and aluminum, represents a sort of survival cell, allowing the driver to isolate and protect themselves from external elements," De Silva said."We kept an eye on the future when designing the Egoista, with the idea that its cockpit could have been taken from a jet aircraft and integrated into a road vehicle, to provide a different travel option."
The glass enclosure slides open electronically, and getting in and out of the driver's seat requires a bit of technique. To get out, the driver must remove the steering wheel and place it on the dashboard, stand up on his seat, sit down on the labeled area of the body and swivel his way to solid ground. He can't stray too far because the body is covered with "do not walk zones" also inspired by aeronautical design.
You wouldn't be alone in thinking that the Egoista crosses the line of good taste in taking Lamborghini's recent angular styling to an extreme level, much like the Veneno concept before it. The cow-spearing, triple-pronged front-end, in particular, is simply not fit to carry the Raging Bull shield on its misshapen beak. It comes off as different for the sake of being different, certainly not attractive.
If you can manage to ignore that messy front-end for a second – a big if – the picture gets slightly, but not much, better as your eye wanders down the flank. Lamborghini says that the sides were designed to emulate a bull lowering its horns and preparing to charge. That sounds great in a press release, and maybe you can see it if you stare at it like an abstract painting, but a less purposeful glimpse will give you a busy series of lines and shapes competing against each other for no particular reason.
The upper profile is a bit more straightforward and honest. The tiny cockpit shoved all the way to the front emphasizes the concept's single-occupant design, and the long, slowly descending roof line puts a focus over the car's engine. When taken within the context of Lamborghini's 50th anniversary, that layout serves as a sort of homage to many decades of mid-engine innovation and design.
In contrast to the Veneno and its huge rear wing, the Egoista was designed without "aerodynamic appendages." Instead, it uses a series of active flaps that automatically open and close based on driving conditions. Its aeronautically inspired "LED clearance lights" were designed to give it three-dimensional definition at night. That light set includes two white front lights, two red rear lights, a red flashing light in the upper part of the tail, two orange bull's eyes as side markers, and a left red and right green on the roof. A pair of xenon headlamps hidden behind the front air intakes casts a beam on the road ahead.
The Egoista's narrow future takes its inherent selfishness even further. It is a gift for Lamborghini from Lamborghini (or for VW from VW, if you'd prefer), and the gift-giver/recipient has no plans of selling the one-of-a-kind car. It will remain a part of Lambo's own collection, no matter how many self-absorbed megalomaniacs one-up each other with crazy bids to buy it.