Although Lamborghini has recently launched a new model with a turbocharged engine, in the sizable form of the Urus SUV, the company is planning to keep the faith with natural aspiration for its next generation of supercars.
“Every car has a mission, and based on that mission you have to choose the right engine,” Lamborghini’s chief technical officer, Maurizio Reggiani, told C/D at the Geneva auto show. “For the SUV the decision was turbo, but we will continue to choose natural aspiration for the super sports cars” (“super sports cars” being Lambo-speak for “the good stuff”).
This is definitely good news, and it’s not as if Lamborghini has found itself lacking performance as rivals have increasingly turned to turbocharging—the Huracán Performante’s record-setting lap time around the Nürburgring Nordschleife last year was achieved without forced induction.
But with increasingly tough emissions and fuel-economy requirements, plus the looming possibility that some cities in Europe and Asia will force electric-only operation within their centers, Lamborghini is set to combine big, high-revving engines with hybrid systems. “We need to take account of fuel consumption and emissions and so on,” Reggiani said. “I am convinced that the naturally aspirated engine coupled with a hybrid system can be the right answer to the super sports car of the future.”
V-12 to Return
Critically, this will enable Lamborghini to continue to offer a V-12 engine in the replacement for the Aventador, with the range-topping supercar now being the oldest model in the company’s hierarchy and therefore next in line for replacement. Before this happens, Reggiani was happy to hint, we can expect to see an even more ultimate version than the Aventador Superveloce: “Our job is to try to have as much as possible from our investment,” he said.
Without revealing specifics for the next car, Reggiani promised that it will stick to the core ingredients that have made the Aventador Lamborghini’s biggest-selling V-12 model: “I think the future for us is to do [something] similar to what we did with Aventador. We need to reinvent this icon of Lamborghini without missing the characteristics: carbon fiber, the V-12 naturally aspirated engine, and other components.”
Reggiani admitted that there’s an internal debate within his team over whether a hybrid system should add short boosts of performance or be capable of longer periods of pure electric running, but he said any production system will likely have to do both. “It depends on the mission of the car,” he said. “In Strada [mode], maybe it will have as long a range as possible. In Corsa [mode], it will need to have the e-boost effect for a big power increase.”
Hybridization could also bring other benefits, with the prospect of a blended powertrain allowing Lamborghini to build a transmission that can use the electric side of the powertrain to fill torque gaps as the gearbox shifts—something the automated single-clutch in the Aventador suffers from.
“I think the main problem is not [refinement],” Reggiani said, when asked about the current car’s transmission. “It is what happens, for example, if you are in a corner and have to shift; then you could use the electric motor to guarantee that you don’t have torque interruption.
“I think that is a possibility to fill the torque hole that you have today, but the problem is that in some gears you have to fill a big amount of torque—when you shift up at low rpm, for example.”
Beyond hybridization, Reggiani believes Lamborghini will eventually get to EVs, but don’t expect them any time soon. “It is clear that the road map of the future will be hybrid and then after that will be electric. How many waves of hybrid will be necessary is difficult to forecast, but I know that sooner or later it will be electric.”
Although Reggiani said he hopes that Lamborghini will be producing naturally aspirated engines “for at least as long as I am CTO,” he said there are no plans to offer one in the Urus: “I said from day one that if we make an SUV, we cannot have an engine with the torque at 5000 rpm. But we still have many customers who ask me, ‘Maurizio, can we not have natural aspiration?’ ‘No, impossible, you will be stuck the first time you are in the snow and need to accelerate.’ But in the super-sport field, natural aspiration is the best choice you have, for the emotion, the sound, the responsiveness.”
Sounds good to us.