Car reviews - Lamborghini - Murcielago - LP640 Coupe
Bewildering acceleration, excellent handling, crowd-drawing presence
Room for improvement
Sky-high price, hard to drive in town, harsh ride, no stability control or side airbags
7 Sep 2007
THERE is something that makes a Lamborghini sighting even more exciting than when you spot a Porsche, Maserati or even Ferrari.
A Lamborghini has such presence that almost everyone stops what they are doing to look at the exotic beast.
Sightings of cars like the Murcielago LP640 gliding along Australian city streets are rare, not least because it costs $700,000 on the road.
It is hard for most of us to fathom how a car could cost that much, but there is certainly nothing else like it on the planet.
There are few cars you can drive on the road that are so fast and sound so good. The thunder that erupts when the 6.5-litre V12 fires up is hard to describe.
The Lamborghini’s engine sits just inches behind the heads of the driver and passenger. It sounds great at idle, let alone when it winds up and belts out a menacing roar. The note is audible on the inside of the car, but it sounds just as good outside.
When GoAuto tested the car, we wound the windows down so we could experience the best of both worlds. There is no disputing the LP640’s aural qualities, but what about its performance? Well, this is also hard to describe in mere words.
Ease out the clutch and feed in the throttle and the Lambo’s all-wheel-drive system forces its monstrous torque through to all four wheels, allowing it to accelerate with effortless, stunning force.
We were thankful of that, because while traction control is standard, there is no stability control system to keep things on the straight and narrow if one's ambitions exceed his/her abilities. Even harder to believe at this level is the fact that side airbags are nowhere to be seen either.
But the acceleration is incredible.
The LP640 charges from 0-100km/h in an amazing 3.4 seconds. Think about it, 3.4 seconds. Yes, it’s actually not all that much slower than a Formula One car, which does the same sprint in about 2.5 seconds.
GoAuto tested the LP640 on public roads, so there was no going past 100km/h, but you can just imagine, with all that power on tap, how fast it picks up speed.
The test car was a six-speed manual and even though we were warned the transmission was a bit worse-for-wear thanks constant thrashing by journalists at the global launch of the car, it was not too bad.
We are told the optional E-Gear automatic transmission, which allows super-fast shifts operated by buttons is the way to go - that is if you can afford the extra $25,682 it costs.
Testing the Lamborghini on regular roads also meant we were unable to fully test the Lamborghini’s grip levels. Even at the mild speeds at which we rounded bends, it was clear that the LP640 had incredible levels of grip. At this price and with such wide tyres, you expect nothing else.
What we also noticed was that the LP640 is not an easy car to drive in town. It has a such a poor turning circle, not surprising given its wide wheels and AWD, that it is easy to get stuck making a turn, or even negotiating a tight roundabout. The ensuing three, four or even five-point turn can be a little embarrassing.
The ride is very harsh and passes on almost all of the bumps and cracks on the surface and something rolling over a tram track causes quite a shock. You also have to keep a constant look-out for obstacles that could be collected by the low hanging lip of the front spoiler.
The front bumper sits so low that the LP640 comes standard with a hydraulic lift kit, which raises the front suspension ride height when you press a button on the centre console.
The ride height returns to normal at about 70km/h, so you have to remember to flick it on again whenever you approach anything that may cause a problem, including things like driveways and other gutter crossings. You also have to take great care when parking or negotiating tight carparks.
Rear visibility is almost non-existent and it is also hard to judge where the edges of the front quarter panels are. The rear-view mirror is almost useless as the rear window is letterbox-narrow.
About all you can see is a reflection of heat shimmer coming from the V12 engine.
But you do get a unique view when driving the LP640. It makes the seating position of a Lotus Elise seem high. Travelling in traffic is a strange sensation. Regular sportscars like a Nissan 350Z look quite tall and four-wheel-drives look like semi-trailers.
There is no danger of being ignored though.
Our LP640 nearly caused several accidents as motorists swerved, jumped on the brakes or accelerated for a look. Passengers hung out of windows with camera phones and when we stopped, strangers came up and asked to be photographed with the car.
So if you like attention, a Lamborghini is just the right car for you.
The LP640 interior is as impressive as the exterior. Lamborghini has used a mix of carbon-fibre and hand-stitched leather to create an interior that matches the sky-high purchase price.
Carbon-fibre swathes the centre console, instrument cluster surround, door sills and even a lid that covers heater and radio controls. Sumptuous hand-stitched leather covers the roof, dashboard, doors and seats.
There aren’t any gimmicks like heated seats or chilled drink holders in the LP640 - it doesn’t need them to impress the occupants.
Don’t go looking for a ‘Start’ button that features on more and more cars to make them feel like race cars, either. The Lamborghini makes do with a good-old ignition key.
If you don’t think that’s special enough, just wait until you turn it.
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