Lamborghini have bowed to the winds of change sweeping through the glitterati of supercar manufacturers. They’ve built a hybrid. The Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 is a plug-in rechargeable hybrid drivetrain technology demonstrator, and the first hybrid-powered vehicle Lamborghini have ever built. And although the company say the Asterion was conceived and developed entirely in-house by Lamborghini, being a part of the Volkswagen empire would surely have allowed Lamborghini engineers access to the wealth of expertise already developed by the folks at VW and Audi.
The Asterion is based around a lightweight carbon fiber monocoque chassis. Into this a 5.2 litre V10 engine has been fitted longitudinally behind the cockpit in a mid-engine position. The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is located behind the engine at the rear transaxle. To balance out weight of the car, the powerful lithium battery is placed longways in the central tunnel area, normally reserved for the transmission. This central position also protects the battery area in case of a crash.
The Lamborghini Asterion’s features an electric motor incorporating an integrated starter motor and generator (ISG) which is placed between the V10 engine and the transmission, and two electric motors at the front axle fed by the ISG power with a torque vectoring function. This setup offers three different driving modes: In hybrid mode the power of the 610 horsepower V10 engine in combination with the three electric motors (300 hp total output) provides a permanent four-wheel drive and maximum performance. In pure electric drive mode only the two electric motors in the front are used. And in Termico (Thermal) mode just the V10 comes into play.
With a maximum power output of 910 horsepower when both the V10 and all three electric motors are working together, the Asterion provides some serious performance. 0-62 mph (100 km/h) takes just 3 seconds, and the top speed is 199 mph (320 km/h). Yet at the same time the car can travel up to 32 miles (50 km) on electric power alone, at speeds of up to 77 mph (125 km/h).
The styling of the Asterion is in keeping with the still box-fresh Huracan. It has the same more sensible, less outrageous, feel about it. Which some like, while others say it’s not befitting of a true Lamborghini supercar. The long low hood, and higher rear end give the car proportions not unlike the old-school Lamborghini Jalpa. Lamborghini haven’t said where their designers got their inspiration for the car, saying only stuff like: “The Asterion touches new boundaries, with an innovative and unexpected design language which explores curves and sensuality, smooth transitions from panel to panel, and few sharp edges.”
On the inside the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 has a more classy, less driver-focused feel about it than the Huracan or the Aventador. More than likely because the Asterion is more of a GT car than an out-and-out supercar. In addition the seats are positioned slightly higher to provide better visibility and more comfort. The three-spoke Lamborghini Miura-inspired steering wheel also includes three buttons from which the driver selects the driving mode: Zero – for zero emissions/full electric; I for ‘Ibrido’ (hybrid in Italian); and T for ‘Termico (thermal) power. A removable tablet display in the center console allows the car’s occupants to manage climate control and other functions including GPS and in-car infotainment.
In terms of production likelihood, Lamborghini are calling the Asterion LPI 910-4 a “technology demonstrator”. But whatever happens this is the future for Lamborghini production vehicles. Because like all supercar companies they need to get their emissions down. So whether the Asterion goes into production itself, or its drivetrain gets rolled into a future version of the Huracan, the hybrid Lamborghini is here to stay.
And finally the name. Well as usual the LP stands for ‘longitudinale posteriore’ indicating that the drivetrain is positioned longitudinally behind the cockpit. The I stands for ‘Ibrido’, which is Italian for ‘Hybrid’. And Asterion is the proper name of the mythical half-bull, half-man Minotaur found in Greek legend. The rest of it you can work out for yourself.