► Winkelmann’s parting gift from Lamborghini
► Centenario celebrates 100 years since Ferrucio's birth
► V12 engine ramped up to max with 760bhp
The longest-serving and most successful Lamborghini president of modern times bowed out at the Geneva show. His final act was to launch a new car that commemorates his most illustrious predecessor.
Stephan Winkelmann, German by name and by birth, Italian by upbringing and by nature, unveiled the new Centenario in Switzerland. The 760bhp supercar uses Lamborghini’s most powerful-ever naturally aspirated V12, and celebrates the centenary of company founder Ferruccio’s birth. It’s also a profitable way of liberating £1.6million from 40 wealthy loyalists.
‘I have tried to copy some of our founder’s management ideas. He maintained that what you say is what you do. He was very hands-on, very passionate, very bold and yet also showed great humility. Lamborghini then had a family atmosphere and despite the growth I have tried to maintain that.’
Winkelmann, who will run Audi’s Quattro sports division, has been responsible for a remarkable transformation at Sant’Agata. The Berlin-born former army paratrooper has tripled turnover and the number of global dealerships, and doubled sales and employment. He says his proudest moments were launching the Aventador, ‘my first Lamborghini from concept to production’ and getting the Urus SUV approved. ‘That was quite a challenge.’ When it arrives in 2018, it will double sales to 6000 units.
‘When I took over [in 2005], Lamborghini was a colourful Italian brand but it had no real focus,’ says Winkelmann. He turned it into one that proudly stood for extreme Italian sports cars, as demonstrated by a host of extravagantly styled road racers, including the limited-edition Reventón and Sesto Elemento.
And what about those who maintain Lambos are aimed at those who like to pose rather than drive with any finesse? Winkelmann tackles that head on. ‘We have introduced Superleggera and Superveloce versions, we have a one-make racing series and we have our GT3 Huracan… Our cars are aimed increasingly at driving enthusiasts who are really capable behind the wheel.’
That’s also the essence of Centenario, with its rear-wheel steering, complex aero and 2.8sec 0-62mph. ‘It boosts the brand and gives our engineers technical freedom and challenges. This is not a car for the museum, but for those who love Lamborghini and want to drive and enjoy our cars.’
Read more from the April 2016 issue of CAR magazine