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An extreme lightweight in carbon fiber for sensational performance and handling -
Lamborghini is redefining the future of the super sports car with a unique technology demonstrator. Boasting an extremely lightweight construction thanks to advanced carbon-fiber technology, the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento has an overall curb weight of just 999 kilograms (2,202 lb) – including V10 power unit and permanent all-wheel drive. This makes the Sesto Elemento a unique demonstration of the technological expertise of Automobili Lamborghini. Innovative carbon-fiber technologies are being used here for the first time in an automotive application. As a 100 percent subsidiary of AUDI AG, the Italian carmaker also benefits from the undisputed expertise of the German manufacturer when it comes to lightweight construction.
With its amazing output of 570 hp, sensational power-to-weight ratio of only 1.75 kilograms per hp and 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration of only 2.5 seconds, the Sesto Elemento guarantees unparalleled driving fun. At the same time, fuel consumption also drops because of the extreme lightweight engineering applied throughout.
The name of this technology demonstrator is derived from the periodic table, where carbon is classified as the sixth element. Thus, the Sesto Elemento demonstrates the worldwide leading expertise of Lamborghini in carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) technology. The super sports car brand from Sant’Agata Bolognese is the only vehicle manufacturer in the world to have mastered the complete CFRP process across a range of technologies, from 3D design through simulation, validation, production and testing – all in a state-of-the-art industrial process that stands for the very highest quality standards.
Lamborghini drives the technology development in its two research centers the ACRC (Advanced Composite Research Center) and the ACSL (Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory) through collaborations with organizations such as Boeing, with the resulting technology secured under a host of patents.
“The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento shows how the future of the super sports car can look – extreme lightweight engineering, combined with extreme performance results in extreme driving fun. We put all of our technological competence into one stunning form to create the Sesto Elemento,” comments Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. “It is our abilities in carbon-fiber technology that have facilitated such a forward-thinking concept, and we of course also benefit from the undisputed lightweight expertise of AUDI AG. Systematic lightweight engineering is crucial for future super sports cars: for the most dynamic performance, as well as for low emissions. We will apply this technological advantage right across our model range. Every future Lamborghini will be touched by the spirit of the Sesto Elemento.”
Groundbreaking technology package
With the Sesto Elemento, Lamborghini’s R&D engineers have put together a groundbreaking package. As a pure and radical concept, the Sesto Elemento is the unique synthesis of an extremely low curb weight of less than 1000 kilograms, enormous 570 hp output, the sensitive and prompt responsiveness of the high-revving, naturally-aspirated V10 engine and the superior traction and stability of permanent all-wheel drive – there has never been a super sports car as thoroughbred as this. Sesto Elemento delivers an unbelievable degree of driving fun, concentrated on absolutely sensational dynamics.
Systematic use of carbon fiber
The basis is an extremely solid, stiff, safe and lightweight carbon-fiber structur: the monocoque cell of the Sesto Elemento. The entire front frame, the exterior panels and crash boxes are also made from CFRP. The Sesto Elemento’s major suspension components and the rims are made from carbon fiber. The tailpipes are made from Pyrosic, which is an advanced glass-ceramic matrix composite, able to reach and stand very high temperatures up to 900° celsius. Even the propeller shaft is made of CFRP.
Amazing power-to-weight ratio
The Sesto Elemento demonstrates the outstanding expertise of Automobili Lamborghini in all areas of carbon-fiber technology. Carbon composite materials are a key technology for the automotive engineering of tomorrow, especially for high-performance sports cars. These materials made from carbon-fiber reinforced plastics combine the lowest weight with excellent characteristics – they are extremely stiff and highly precise. Lighter cars improve fuel consumption and CO2 emissions: above all, however, it improves the power-to-weight ratio – the crucial factor for a sports car – and thus the performance. A super sports car built using CFRP accelerates faster, has outstanding handling and better braking.
Extreme lightweight engineering delivers extreme performance
The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento offers the ultimate proof; thanks to its sensational power-to-weight ratio of only 1.75 kilograms per hp, the concept car delivers unparalleled performance. From a standing start, the Sesto Elemento catapults itself to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a sensational 2.5 seconds. In the interests of completeness, it should also be mentioned that the top speed is well over 300 km/h. What the figures cannot convey, however, are the Sesto Elemento’s razor-sharp handling, its voracious turn-in and its huge braking power. Extreme lightweight engineering and extreme performance come together in the Sesto Elemento to create an all-n
Technology in a progressive form
Uncompromising dynamics from the very first glance: the design of the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento displays the sensuality of high performance and possesses the elegance of pure, unadulterated power. The Sesto Elemento lifts the design DNA of the Lamborghini brand to a new level and integrates the functional consistency of carbon-fiber technology into its design language. A clear strength of the CFRP technology is the reduction and integration of components – something that has been used to its full extent in this innovative technology concept.
The hi-tech material is visible everywhere. The Sesto Elemento is finished in a new, matt-shimmer clear coat, meaning that the CFRP structure can be seen throughout. Yet the Sesto Elemento is not just black; during the final stage of production the carbon fiber parts receive a newly developed and patented coat. Nano-Technology makes it possible to add fine crystals with a red shimmer. Surfaces covered with this type of finish glow red and deliver an outstanding effect. Further, the surface is particularly robust.
Consistent in form and function
On a Lamborghini, every single line has a clear function; the two vertical ribs at the front, for example, improve the stiffness of the component and guide the cooling air directly to the radiator behind them and to the brakes. This guarantees the thermal wellbeing of the components even under the toughest race track conditions.
The cooling air flows through two red triangular openings in the hood beneath the front windscreen and through large outlets in the side panels behind the front wheels. Sharply cut headlamp units complete the front end. Reduction is the name of the game here, too – alongside the bi-xenon lamps, there are four LEDs in each unit. The low front end looks incredibly dominant, with the partially double-lipped front spoiler pushed way out front and distinctively formed air intakes.
Precise lines, sharp edges
The entire side profile is cut like a sharp wedge, with the power center of the car unmistakably just in front of the rear axle. A distinctive sideline starts at the front wheel arch, rises along the door towards the rear and ends at the broad shoulders above the rear wheel. The triangle – like the one around the door handle – is a recurring design theme, defined by the precise contour edges in the Sesto Elemento’s CFRP body. The points of the air outlet triangles in the hood are carried through into lines along the roof.
The extremely wide sills form a connection between the air outlets behind the front wheels and the large air inlets in front of the rear wheels. These compartments house components such as the radiators for cooling the engine and transmission oil. The rims have a five-spoke design and are made entirely from carbon fiber. They offer a clear view of the high-performance brakes with carbon-ceramic discs.
The Sesto Elemento’s rear overhang is extremely short and, again, defined by optimum aerodynamics. The generously dimensioned spoiler is perfectly matched to the diffuser and a further air deflector in the center, thus guaranteeing maximum downforce for extreme cornering speeds and excellent high-speed directional stability. The Pyrosic tailpipes are directed upwards through the engine cover panel, which also incorporates ten hexagonal openings and two air scoops behind the roof for delivering fresh air to the V10 power plant.
Complex structures in one component
A major strength of carbon-fiber technology is that complex structures can be integrated into one single component. This improves quality and reduces weight. On the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, the front and rear of the body-shell are each manufactured in a single piece. Engineers call this “cofango”, created by combining the Italian word “cofano” (hood) with “parafango” (fender). The large components are attached by using easily removable fasteners, in order to have fast component disassembly. The “cofango” is also reminiscent of an icon from the brand’s history: in 1966, the legendary Lamborghini Miura was unique as a mid-engine super sports car – and its rear cover, too, could be opened in one piece.
Interior – pared to the bone
The minimalist approach has also been applied to the interior, starting with the seats. Lamborghini has dispensed completely with the conventional seat frame. In fact, the whole internal structure is obtained and defined directly from the Forged Composite tub, that on one side plays a functional role and on the other side is the base for the optimally formed seat cushions, upholstered in hi-tech fabric, which are affixed directly to the carbon-fiber monocoque. The correct ergonomics are provided by the steering wheel, which can be adjusted for height and reach, and by the pedals, which can be electrically adjusted longitudinally. Of course, the designers of Lamborghini Centro Stile also dispensed with interior trim in the classic sense. The dominant visual feature throughout is the functional CFRP material – on the floor and roof of the monocoque, on the doors and also on the cockpit and center console. Even the electronic control unit for the engine is mounted in plain sight – a very special kind of hi-tech aesthetic. The triangular cut-out is also evident as a design feature – wherever material can be removed in the interest of weight reduction.
The controls are presented in a highly concentrated format. The instruments provide information primarily on engine and road speed, as well as all parameters relating to engine condition. Only three piezoelectric buttons grace the center console – one to start the engine, one to shift into reverse gear and another one for the lights.
Ambitious target reached with ease
The Sant’Agata Bolognese engineers had set themselves a target that was more than ambitious – despite the ten cylinders and 570 hp, despite the exceptionally fast-shifting e.gear transmission and even despite the permanent all-wheel drive, the Sesto Elemento still had to stay below the 1,000 kilogram mark. And that target was achieved; at a curb weight of 999 kilograms, each hp produced by the V10 power unit has to accelerate only 1.75 kilograms – a sensational figure.
This was made possible by the systematic and intelligent use of state-of-the-art carbon-fiber technologies. Lamborghini possesses extensive experience in the field of lightweight engineering, gathered over many years: something clearly demonstrated by the brand’s series production vehicles. The current Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera has a dry weight of only 1,340 kilograms, marking a competitive best in this category of super sports cars. Compared with the already extremely lean Gallardo LP 560-4 Coupé, this represents a further reduction of 70 kilograms, resulting largely from the use of carbon fiber in the body-shell, interior and technical components.
Lamborghini engineers stuck firmly to this approach for the Sesto Elemento. Its structure consists almost entirely of carbon fiber and is built using the monocoque principle. Monocoque means that the vehicle’s load-bearing structure is manufactured as a single shell, with the physical properties of one component, and thus makes optimum use of the extreme stiffness offered by CFRP materials. Formula 1 racing cars have been built using CFRP monocoques for decades – and regularly provide clear evidence of their collision safety. The monocoque in the Sesto Elemento, however, is made using innovative Forged Composite technology – the first time this has been done in an automobile. The advantage of the Forged Composite is that the monocoque is obtained through a one-shot process.
Carbon-fiber crash boxes
In the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, the monocoque forms the complete passenger cell. Connected to it are the front subframe – incorporating the suspension points – and the crash boxes, both also made using specialized carbon-fiber technologies. The extreme stiffness of this assembly guarantees not only a very high level of safety, but also unparalleled handling precision. The rear subframe with the engine mount and rear axle suspension points is made from aluminum – another lightweight material with which Lamborghini has a great deal of experience.
An important element in optimum construction using CFRP technology is the maximum integration of functions. Thus, the body-shell exterior is made up only of the roof section, which is part of the monocoque, the two “cofango” covers front and rear with integrated aerodynamic components and the doors. Each door consists of only two elements, the exterior skin and the interior cladding, both of which are also permanently bonded to create one component.
Carbon fiber even in the suspension
The suspension and the area around the engine have also been optimized with lightweight engineering. Alongside aluminum components, there are also carbon-fiber control arms: innovative Forged Composite technology is also well-suited to this kind of high-load part. These components are around 30 percent lighter than comparable aluminum parts. The propeller shaft is also made of CFRP by using Wrapping technology. This solution allowed the Lamborghini engineers to get rid of the central joint, bringing an important weight saving. The rims are also made from CFRP, while the brake discs are from carbon-ceramic composite material. A similar composite material is used for the tailpipes on the exhaust system – the compound of ceramic powder and synthetic resin makes this carbon material extremely heat resistant. A large number of screw fastenings feature a special titanium alloy and joining technology from the aviation sector.
Based on the form, function and operational demands of the individual Sesto Elemento components, engineers from Lamborghini’s R&D selected largely from three CFRP manufacturing techniques within their technology tool kit:
Forged Composite: Here, materials with short carbon fibers are hot pressed in a mould. The process facilitates complex structures and is used for parts such as the underside of the monocoque and the suspension arms.
Prepreg: The carbon-fiber mats are soaked in a thermoset liquid resin. They are pressed in moulds and cured in an oven under heat and pressure. Prepreg components have a very good surface finish and are therefore the preferred choice for use in visible areas.
Braiding: This is a method to manufacture composite filament derived from the textile industry. Each thread is diagonally intertwined on different levels.
Concentrated power and amazing sound
The fascinating heart of the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is familiar from the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera. In the Sesto Elemento too, the V10 unit is mounted “longitudinale posteriore” – longitudinally behind the driver. The 570 hp output equals 419 kW, all of which is available at 8,000 r/min. The pulling power is just as impressive – with the torque curve peaking at 540 Nm and 6,500 r/min.
The V10 offers 5,204 cm3 of displacement, delivering a specific output of 80.5 kW (109.6 hp) per liter of displacement. The highlights of this long-stroke engine with an aluminum crankcase include dry sump lubrication and a cylinder angle of 90 degrees. Both solutions are an integral part of the lightweight engineering approach, as well as serving to lower the center of gravity and thus tighten the handling characteristics. Ideal combustion chamber fill comes courtesy of a switch-over induction system and continually variable, chain-driven camshafts.
Best traction with all-wheel drive
The Sesto Elemento is equipped with the e.gear transmission, controlled in race car fashion via shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The automated system with electronic management shifts smoothly through its six gears much faster than a human being would be able to.
Every single kilometer in the Sesto Elemento is sheer fascination – due in part to the relentless traction delivered under practically all conditions. This is largely attributable to the permanent all-wheel drive system. It incorporates a central viscous coupling and a self-locking differential for the rear wheels with 45 percent lock. Thanks to this superior traction, Lamborghini drivers can accelerate earlier out of a curve than those in rear-wheel drive cars.
New development center for carbon-fiber technology
Lamborghini possesses many years of experience with carbon-fiber reinforced materials. As far back as 1983, it produced the first prototype CFRP chassis for the Countach, with the first series production parts appearing in 1985. The current Lamborghini Murciélago is made largely from CFRP – its body-in-white contains 93 kilograms of carbon-fiber materials. The engine cover panel of the Gallardo Spyder is one of the largest CFRP components with class A surface quality in the automotive world.
The company is now working steadily to expand its worldwide leading position. The new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at the company headquarter in Sant’Agata Bolognese is working on innovative construction and production methods for carbon-fiber elements in automobile design.
The Advanced Composite Research Center in Sant’Agata Bolognese secures leading-edge research on innovative materials and production methods for carbon fiber elements for small production volumes. Here, over 30 experts develop vehicle components of all shapes and sizes. They build prototypes and the associated production tools while developing optimized production technologies. Sophisticated systems largely developed in-house allow extremely high precision levels as engineers simulate manufacturing processes as well as carry out crash tests on complex carbon-fiber structures. Thanks to the extensively patented “RTM Lambo” process, Lamborghini can use minimal pressure and relatively low temperatures to manufacture carbon-fiber components to the highest levels of quality, precision and surface finish, from small parts to complex vehicle structures. Further benefits include higher process speeds, lower costs, and extremely light tooling.
The Lamborghini Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) at the University of Washington uses experimental tests to define the mechanical behavior of the different materials and technologies using methodology from the aviation industry. The team of research engineers in Seattle works with very specific instruments and methods in close cooperation with the R&D headquarters and the ACRC in Sant’Agata Bolognese.
Posted on 08 October 2010 by LamborghiniDallas
By Patrick Hong / Photos by Guy Spangenberg
No other brands in the world more clearly embody the term “exotic cars” than Ferrari and Lamborghini. Not only do they define incredible performance, but they also invoke passion and excitement among car enthusiasts everywhere. While both companies have a healthy respect for each other, make no mistake that each also has a strong sense of pride and a desire to one-up the other. Given their intertwined history—Ferruccio Lamborghini was snubbed by Enzo Ferrari early on when he complained about Enzo’s road cars—there is nothing more thrilling than to see both carmakers try to out-duel each other with each new generation of cars. So it only made sense to round up these two Italian builders’ latest creations and toss them into the ring for a good fight: The 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia versus the 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera.
In one corner is the all-new Ferrari 458 Italia. It comes from a rich lineage of being the compact berlinetta of the Maranello family. First there was the mid-engine Dino, then came the 308, the 328, the 348 and the F355. The subsequent 360 Modena took the model line forward a giant step with a dramatically different look that evolved into the F430. The new Italia now takes over the reins and charges ahead with numerous technologies learned from the company’s famed Formula 1 program. Racing is deeply rooted within Ferrari—Enzo actually sold road cars simply to fund his motorsport ventures.
In the other corner, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera—from the cross-town Sant’Agata Bolognese family that gave birth to the much-revered Miura and the out-of-this-world Countach—is based on the standard Gallardo unveiled in 2003. The Superleggera is designed to live on the track, and is equipped with firmer suspension tuning and weight-saving carbon-fiber components that shave 154 lb. from the stock Gallardo. Interestingly, racing was never in the company’s blood. But Ferruccio set out to build a better and more exciting road car than Ferrari.
On the surface, it might seem that pitting the Italia against the Superleggera is like comparing apples to oranges. After all, the Ferrari is designed essentially as a high-performance road car, while the Lamborghini is a track-focused version of the Gallardo. But look closer; surprisingly, both sports cars share unusually similar technical specifications.
Weighing in at 3490 lb., the Ferrari is equipped with a direct-injection 4.5-liter mid-mounted V-8 engine generating 570 bhp at 9000 rpm, with 398 lb.-ft. of torque at 6000 rpm. Tipping the scales at 3470 lb.—a mere 20 lb. lighter than the Italia—the Lamborghini also has a direct-injected powerplant residing amidships that can pump out 562 bhp at 8000 rpm and 398 lb.-ft. of torque at 6500 rpm. The contrast is that the Superleggera’s power comes from a 5.2-liter V-10, and it drives all four wheels. According to their respective factories, the top speed for each car is a claimed 202 mph. The starting price for each hovers around $230,000. Coincidence? Perhaps. And it is probably also safe to guess that Ferrari closely benchmarked the Gallardo while the Italia was being developed.
Climb aboard the Ferrari 458 Italia, and you’re treated to a mixture of old and new complete with richly stitched Italian leather complemented by new technology such as carbon-fiber trim and an all-digital dash. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the outward view is very good all the way around the car—even to the rear. In contrast, the Lamborghini’s cockpit is all about business: thinly padded carbon-fiber seats with carbon-fiber door panels and center tunnel, matched by the generous use of Alcantara fabric, all meant to shave pounds and convey a sense of speed.
Stare into the Italia’s instrument cluster—front and center is the all-important yellow analog rev counter. To the right is the TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen that can toggle through various features such as radio and navigation via a clunky and off-putting iDrive-like knob. In the off position, the right screen becomes the speedometer. On the far left there are several screens that can be keyed up (via another iDrive-like knob), including driving aid settings based on different chassis configurations. On the steering wheel you’ll find the manettino dial—just like in an F1 car—enabling you to select your preferred chassis setup: Sport, Race, CT Off (traction control off) and CST Off (everything off except ABS, and you’re on your own). The turn signal buttons are located on the steering wheel as well, just on the inside corners near where you would normally rest your thumbs. This can be annoying for some, especially if you are in the middle of a turn and don’t remember which turn signal is on. Others have found them quite logical in that your hands will never be off the steering wheel. As expected, the large paddle shifters for Ferrari’s Getrag 7-speed twin-clutch transmission are fixed on the steering column.
The Gallardo’s instrument cluster is based on a much older 2003 design. All the important gauges such as the speedometer and rev counter are in analog form, with a small center digital display showing a trip computer and a few of the car’s vital signs. The infotainment system on the center stack is similar to those used in Audis (Lamborghini’s parent), and the climate control is basic with just a few buttons. Just as in the Ferrari, the Lambo’s paddle shifters stay fixed on the steering column (left downshift, right upshift), engaging its hydraulically actuated single-clutch 6-speed gearbox. And there are similar driving modes available as with the Ferrari: standard, Sport and Corsa (for track use), as well as an “everything off except ABS” setting. Although the Superleggera isn’t as technology-laden as the Italia, there’s some appeal to its simplicity and no-nonsense approach.
Driving the two exotics on public roads, the difference in character is apparent. The Lamborghini makes no excuses that its suspension is tuned for the racetrack. On Interstates or winding mountain roads, the Superleggera makes every bump and crack on the road known, and you feel the direct impact of those imperfections clearly through your lower back. The steering’s on-center and off-center feel is direct and nicely weighted, with increasing effort needed through decreasing-radius turns. The car’s all-wheel drive adds that extra sense of safety and confidence so you can drive through the corners a bit faster and count on the front wheels to pull you out.
In the Ferrari, thanks to the car’s adjustable magnetorheological shocks, you can set it to “bumpy road” and it will soak up the concrete gaps on the highway with minimal fuss. The cockpit feels quieter and more isolated from road noise. As the pavement gets twisty, turn the manettino to Race. Not only does the exhaust open up through two of the outer trio of tailpipes for a more racy engine note, the damping also firms up for you to tackle the turns with more composure. The steering on the Italia is lightning quick and ultra-responsive. The turn-in is effortless. In fact, the faster you turn, the faster the car’s computer will adjust its damping real-time to prevent more roll. The trick is to learn to trust the car and know that its rear will stay put when you attack the apex more aggressively. The Ferrari feels lighter on its feet than the Lambo, and is able to dance through the switchbacks with more precision. That said, the Superleggera’s more calming on-track mannerisms—albeit more weighty in feel—invites the driver to take more risk.
Round 2: Track Performance
Through our standard Road & Track test regimen, both exotics turned in almost identical numbers, though from entirely different approaches. The Lamborghini accomplishes its acceleration, braking, slalom and skidpad runs mainly through raw power and mechanical grip, while the Ferrari accomplishes the task with more finesse and electronic optimization.
On the drag strip, the Italia and Superleggera ripped off identical 0–60 mph and quarter-mile runs, tripping the timer at 3.0 seconds and 11.0 sec., respectively. The Lambo’s trap speed of 128.9 mph at the quarter mile showed only a 0.4-mph advantage. Both cars come equipped with launch control where all you need to do is apply full brakes and throttle as the engine rpm builds. When ready, just release the brakes and you’re on your way for a thrill ride. While the Superleggera isn’t bothered by less-than-optimal asphalt, the Italia needs more attention to the timing of the brake release and full throttle application to properly launch off the line with just the right amount of wheelspin.
The higher grip exhibited by the Lamborghini is attributed to its all-wheel drive and its very sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber. These tires have an ultra-low 60 treadwear rating compared to the 160 rating of the Pirelli P Zeros on the Ferrari. Through our slalom, the Superleggera snakes through the cones averaging 74.3 mph, and the Italia counters with 73.4 mph. Circling our skidpad, the awd Lambo’s natural tendency to understeer hinders it a bit, although it still generated 0.99g, just a tick below the Ferrari’s 1.00g.
Beyond the test data, the home of both the Ferrari and Lamborghini is really on the racetrack. Around the Streets of Willow in Rosamond, California, the 458 Italia’s engine screams with power and its twin-clutch gearbox swaps gears in just 0.04 sec., making the car slingshot down the straight in uncannily smooth fashion. The Superleggera’s single-clutch transmission, while also quick in upshifting, feels clunky and slow by comparison.
Slowing down, both cars are equipped with carbon-ceramic brake rotors so there is no hint of fade after repeated applications. In fact, the Italia’s brake calipers nudge the pads closer to the rotors as it anticipates you applying the brakes. This, combined with the car’s ability to perform multiple downshifts when you hold the left paddle in, further heightens the Ferrari’s impression that it can anticipate your every command and enhances its nimbleness on the track.
That said, apexing and accelerating out of the corner in the Italia also requires more trust in the car. The front wishbone and rear multilink suspension coupled with those magnetorheological shocks and the rear E-diff will find the most optimal settings to keep body roll in check and the back end in place. But relying more on electronic assistance also means that it will take longer to learn the car’s behavior to be able extract more speed.
With all-wheel drive and a fixed all-around double-wishbone suspension setup, the Superleggera doesn’t quite have the quickness in transitions. But what it does offer is the assurance and the predictability that if you do toss the car into a turn, the behavior of the chassis and the grip on the asphalt can be more directly felt through the steering and the seat. And powering out, having driven front wheels and a limited-slip rear differential means you can get on the throttle a bit earlier to pull the car around the apex. Driving the Superleggera requires a bit more effort, but you are rewarded with a stronger sense of connection to the pavement.
Final Round: The Decision
At the end of the day, with both the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Lamborghini Superleggera turning in similar road and track driving impressions and test data, how do we decide which exotic reigns supreme?
The Italia technology is wrapped in a beautifully sculpted body. Every exterior design detail on the car serves an aerodynamic purpose, from the lower front aerolastic winglets that bend to reduce drag and improve downforce, to the rear fender’s raised lip where it meets the engine cover so the air flows more smoothly into the rear radiators. With the Superleggera, one look at the car—visible carbon-fiber components inside and out, the deep front air scoop, the ever-present rear wing, and the strong cut lines that go straight to the back—it is impossible to mistake the car’s intended purpose. The Ferrari is graceful, and the Lamborghini is bold.
So the final decision really comes down to personal preference. The all-around exotic crown would go to the Ferrari 458 Italia. The no-nonsense, singularly track-focused crown would go to the Lamborghini Superleggera. For any car enthusiast, having either one of these exotic overachievers in the garage will do.
Rome, September 26, 2010 – Automobili Lamborghini and Blancpain are uniting their phenomenal engineering skill and honoring the huge success of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo racing series with a very special super sports car: the new Gallardo LP 570-4 Blancpain Edition.
This extraordinary super sports car joins the competition spirit of the Super Trofeo race car with an exclusive design and one hundred percent road-going usability. The first Gallardo from the exclusive and limited Blancpain Edition production run has been presented by Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, and Marc A. Hayek, President and CEO of Blancpain, at the final race weekend of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo on Sunday September 26 in the “Piero Taruffi” circuit, Vallelunga.
Automobili Lamborghini, the manufacturer of extreme Italian super sports cars, and Blancpain, the world’s oldest luxury watchmaker, are among the very best brands in their respective sectors worldwide. Blancpain was recently voted the “Best of the Best” among the world’s most exquisite watch brands by the “Luxury Institute” in New York. Now the two brands have come together to develop a unique blend of technology and design to create the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Blancpain Edition, putting the power of the world’s fastest mono-marque race series into a road- legal vehicle.
Blancpain is the title sponsor of the successful Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series. The cooperation between these two brands brings together the highest levels of engineering excellence from the automotive and chronometry industries. Blancpain has been producing innovative masterpieces of watch-making art in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux since 1735. Each timepiece is assembled by one single watchmaker, reflecting the quality and individual attention with which Lamborghini builds its super sports cars for the road, and its 570 hp Super Trofeo race cars.
Both brands share an enormous passion for racing. Blancpain is not only intensely involved with the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo, but is also official timekeeper for the FIA GT1 World Championship – where Lamborghini cars also compete against other prestigious marques. In July, Lamborghini secured its first win in the newly-formed championship at the iconic Spa- Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, where former Formula One driver Riccardo Zonta and Frank Kechele charged to a first-place finish.
“Lamborghini is extremely happy about its cooperation with Blancpain. In just its second year, the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo has established itself in the premier league of gentlemen’s racing,” says Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. “Each race is a battle of dedication and passion for every single hundredth of a second – something that characterizes both of our brands. The Gallardo LP 570-4 Blancpain Edition demonstrates the close bond between our road-going super sports cars and the race car.”
“This is a very intense and dynamic partnership between companies from highly disparate sectors, but with the same drive for innovation and mechanical excellence,” says Marc A. Hayek, President and CEO of Blancpain. “For me, Blancpain has always been a true revolutionary – even a little crazy – with the spirit of adventure. We have always tried to be a little different, to remain innovative and to attempt things that no-one had ever achieved before. This pursuit of excellence is a passion that is shared by Blancpain and Lamborghini,” continues Hayek. “Lamborghini is indisputably a first-class manufacturer with the highest levels of engineering competence, which is why the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo offers a perfect platform for attracting even more attention to our brand around the world.”
Marc A. Hayek is not only President and CEO of Blancpain, he is also a passionate and accomplished race driver. He has already claimed several victories in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo, and is currently fighting for the podium in the Pro-Am Drivers’ Standings.
In this special configuration, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Blancpain Edition shows the spirit of competition – the mighty rear spoiler for maximum stability and the engine cover for optimized ventilation were derived directly from the race car featured in the world’s fastest one-make series. The Edition is also equipped with Skorpius wheels with yellow-painted brake calipers and discs made, of course, from carbon-ceramic composite. One striking visual feature that fits perfectly with the matt black paintwork is the carbon-fiber used to make external components, such as the diffuser and mirror casings.
The interior of the Blancpain Edition further reinforces the extremely sporty character of the Gallardo without sacrificing the comfort of the driver and passenger. The entire interior is finished in black Alcantara with yellow accents and visible carbon-fiber. The Blancpain logo is placed on the exterior and also featured on the seats and cockpit in yellow stitching. Propulsion for the Gallardo LP 570-4 Blancpain Edition comes courtesy of the 570 hp V10 power unit from the series Superleggera production car – as is the case for the Super Trofeo race car. Superb traction from the all-wheel drive ensures perfect stability in every situation.
The super sports car from Sant’Agata Bolognese boasts a dry weight of no more than 1340 kilograms (2954 lb) – the lightest road-going model in Lamborghini’s range. One key factor is the exterior and interior components made from carbon-fiber. Carbon-fiber is ideal for the manufacture of sports cars as its use allows for weight reduction and improved mechanical features. The car’s performance is thus enhanced thanks to a better power-to- weight ratio and reduced total mass, which means that CO2 emissions are also lower.
The V10 power unit with 5.2 liters (317.6 cu in) of displacement generates 419 kW (570 hp) in the Gallardo Blancpain Edition. This puts the power-to-weight ratio of the vehicle at only 2.35 kilograms (5.18 lb) per hp and guarantees breathtaking performance. This super sports car handles the dash from zero to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3.4 seconds and flies past the 200 km/h (124 mph) mark only 6.8 seconds later, ultimately exceeding 320 km/h (199 mph).