Is the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 the perfect supercar?
I've been fortunate to have two encounters of driving a Murcielago, one with a gated manual and one E-Gear. The manual was a chance to drive back to back with a Ferrari 458 for comparison to see how we're progressing from the analogue age and into the digital. The differences are immediate and profound even for an amateur like me but it got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Murcielago is the definition of a supercar.
The looks can only be described as aggressive and brash. Despite Audi taking over and calming the cars down Lamborghini clearly still had great influence in the aesthetics both inside and out making it one of the greatest looking supercars of all time. It's wide, low, inappropriate and it does it perfectly.
One of the most obvious - or maybe not so obvious - details is that it isn't symmetrical. On the driver's side you have a normal air intake duct that sits in front of the rear wheel but walk around to the other side you'll find a closed off vent that has nothing behind it and doesn't contribute in any way to the cooling of the car.
One of the things I love about the rear end of the car is the engine bay. Two huge glass plates sit upon each other but in order to release the huge amounts of heat that the engine spews there isn't any type of guard meaning the engine is completely open to the elements.
A Murci holds a couple of quirks too, like the sole windscreen wiper. For the blade to be able to clear the whole width of the windscreen means it is literally a metre long. The other thing being the random unused button between the sport button and the stability manager that remains blank. These might not sound interesting but it's something to think about.
The party piece? The wings. On the dashboard next to the TCS you'll find a little button with a picture of a car with wings. Press this and two huge vents, one each side, rise from the rear of the car which suck in huge amounts of air to feed to the engine to help cool it. The car will raise these automatically when the operating temp reaches 90C or can be manually opened because... well because it looks cool.
The drama doesn't stop once you enter the cabin. After clambering into it and drop your ass into the seat - that is if you don't hit your head on the door - you'll instantly notice that the driver's seat isn't facing the front but angled slightly to the centre of the car. The reason behind this is the gearbox runs through the middle of the car below where the centre console is situated so the seats are arranged at the same angle to make the design more plush.
Another quirk that the LP640 possess is the location of the handbrake. Putting it next to the gear stick would make it impossible to change gear so they placed it between the door and the seat. In a traditional car the handbrake will be pulled upwards to engage but remember, this is a scissor door, so if the handbrake was in an upright position then you wouldn't be able to exit the vehicle. To solve this Lamborghini made sure you could push the lever down while the handbrake was still operational.
When you're dealing with the E-Gear then you'll be confused as to how to get the car in reverse. Obviously being an automatic then you're limited to a button, but where is it? On the other side of the wheel next to the door. Obviously.
The manual has some annoying bits too. The centre console where you rest your arm is way too high which makes your shoulder uncomfortable after a while. But if you're like me who doesn't have two hands on the wheel constantly and put your arm down by your side then your elbow rubs against the side of the console housing which isn't much better.
The last annoying part of the Murcielago's interior is the cramped space. If you're tall like me then your legs are dangerously close to the steering wheel making it a bit difficult sometimes, especially when tackling tight country lanes that I have all around my home.
When the LP640 came out in March 2006 a price tag of £275,000 followed it before options. If we look at second hand examples for sale today then they start at almost half that with the lower mileage ones sitting around the £200,000 mark meaning depreciation hasn't hit too hard. They're even starting to slightly climb in value and no doubt in the future will be worth a whole lot more, especially a manual version.
The LP640 produces, you guessed it, 640PS or 631bhp to us Brits. The original Murcielago featured a 6.2-litre V12 which was later raised to 6.5-litres when the facelift came out. Despite weighing in at a massive 1,746kg, it's no slouch with a 0-60 time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed surpassing 200mph.
The first thing I noticed was how heavy the steering is. It's not a horrible in the sense of no feel, but you need to be the size of Dwayne Johnson to overcome it. Okay, that's an exaggeration but you get the point. The clutch is just as heavy but is surprisingly easy to operate and requires very little throttle when moving slowly and pulling off from a stand still.
The second thing was how unbalanced it felt. Having a hefty V12 behind you and a old style AWD system means you can feel every kilo of weight that is biased towards to the rear of the car which can be daunting at first but once you start pushing on a bit then you get the feel of it and it's no longer a concern.
Jumping into a more modern supercar, the 458, just amplifies how far we've come in just a short amount of time. I know they're very different cars but they're the same to an extent but the differences are profound. The 458 is probably a better car, but is it a better supercar?
In my opinion the LP640 is the definition of a supercar and remains unrivaled, even by its successor, the Aventador. I know I've rambled on a little but I challenge anyone to suggest a more worthy competitor.