► Lambo’s reborn Countach driven
► Aventador-based recipe underneath
► But with sleek, retro looks
The sole surviving presentable prototype of the small reborn Countach fleet is a white, wide and wedge-shaped wild thing. Over two years old now, it has 40,840 clicks on the clock, rattles and squeaks freely when it feels like it, and likes to wear its battle scars collected at the Ring and on the Nardo high-speed oval with casually touched up pride. Parked next to the grotesquely over-spoilered 25th anniversary original, the 2022 version exudes a totally different type of timely cool, symbolizes priceless laid back grandezza and oozes Italianitá.
Remind us what this is again?
Based on the outgoing Aventador, the eye-catching LPI (Longitudinale Posteriore Ibrido) limbo dancer from Sant’Agata Bolognese is definitely not another loud batmobile with Supertrofeo overtones but pays homage instead to Marcello Gandini’s drop-dead beautiful bedroom poster favourite from the early ‘80s.
Unlike the brand’s more recent one- and few-offs like the aggressively extrovert Egoista, Veneno and Centenario, the comeback Countach is all about style, substance and understated sex appeal. Its awesome proportions are bound to arouse every single dormant macho neuron of the bedazzled beholder.
Lower than the Huracan Spyder by 40mm, even wider than the Urus and 440mm longer than an Audi R8, the LPI 800-4 shatters the generic sports car mould. Only the 2700mm wheelbase follows a less extreme dimensional pattern. The flush rectangular headlamps, hexagonal windscreen, louvred backlight, periscope-inspired roof-mounted air intake and the trademark wheel arches are among the most obvious visual tributes to the puristic namesake. There is no doubt about it: Mitja Borkert, head of Lamborghini Design, created a striking yet beautifully balanced sports car which is neiher overtly retro nor as eccentric as Sian and Essenza.
The swan-wing doors, the familiar roofline and the massive lateral air intakes all shout Aventador, garnished with a dash of Murcielago and a whiff of Diablo which was also penned by Gandini. Tall people may need a can of rust-loosening spray or two to prepare their limbs for the challenging entry and exit procedure, but once the low-mounted carbon fibre bucket seat grabs your hips like a softshell clamp and the long legs can unravel in the deep but narrow footwell, creature comfort and confidence increase with every breath. No, this driver environment is not nearly as compromised as it appeared from above. There is actually plenty of room for shoulders and elbows, half a curler clearance between scalp and ceiling, pedals and steering-wheel in the correct position. Are we ready to lift the red metal flap und unleash the devil inside?
In second gear, with 769bhp on tap at 8500rpm and 34 spare electric horses waiting in the wing, the flatfish on V12 steroids launches forward as smoothly as it morphs into and out of e-boost assistance mode. In this car, 30mph feels like barely moving at all, 60mph is hardly worth one more upshift, 80mph creates a bit of a breeze at last, but it takes a foray into triple-figure territory to summon the driver’s full attention. You could run this macchina prova at 221mph all-day long.
What the heck – let’s go for it and roar in eight seconds flat from zero to 125mph. Hit the 62mph mark in a time-warp 2.8sec. Exert more stopping power than a firmly seated hairpiece can take. Open the g-force floodgates and flush the brain from one side of the skull to the other, and again. Mix and match the transmission in Manual and the DNA selector in Race for a glorious workout session at the fat-rimmed steering-wheel complemented by the world’s longest shift sickles. True, the Countach 2.0 comes with certain mod cons like AC and a basic infotainment system framed by ancient Audi switchgear, but the core drivetrain layout and the convoluted packaging date back to the days when Cesar was still in charge of the Roman empire.
Despite its elaborate carbon fibre mono-fuselage chassis and that tourbillon-complex twelve-cylinder engine, LPI 800-4 feels decidedly more high-mech than high-tech. For a start, the newest old Lamborghini does not ride well at all. Although the format of the Pirelli P Zero tyres – 255/30 ZR20 and 355/25 ZR21 – is not extreme by contemporary standards, the double-wishbone pushrod suspension boasting macaroni-size horizontal springs and not particularly concessive adaptive dampers does not even fit the description of a modern off-piste set-up anymore. After all, compliance is an alien term to this arrangement. The desirable Ferrari-style on-demand softer shock absorber setting is conspicuous by its absence, and although the front axle is fitted with a lift feature, the low-flying nose keeps bottoming out on the rough stuff. Instead of an even firmer set-up, the new Countach could have done with more lissom and user-friendly kinematics.
The steering is quite quick at 2.1 to 2.4 turns from lock to lock, depending on the selected drive mode. At 12.5metres, the turning circle is not excessively wide, but the cab-forward driving position and that inherent inkling of light initial understeer softens to a degree the explosive trademark handling demonstrated in perfection by the Huracan Tecnica. In direct comparison, the Countach is much harder work. Dialling in and unwinding lock can be an arm-twisting business, bracing yourself for ruts, bumps and potholes syphons attention and energy, the fat A-posts keep interfering with your field of vision through second and third-gear corners, and the visibility from the B-posts backwards is practically zero, even though the reversing camera does help to contain major embarrassments. According to hard-nosed supercar junkies, trust in God and a firm stab on the throttle are safer escape tools than all the mirrors in the world.
The gaudy instrument display is full of surprises. Redlined at 8700rpm, the revolution counter throws in 200 unexpected bonus rpm when you really go for it. At the other end of the dynamic scale, in what is best described as sauntering mode, however, a single piston icon lights up to inform us that six of the twelve cylinders are currently off duty – not that the remaining 390 horses would render the beast momentarily motionless. Two more oddball add-ons are the erratic start-stop system and a small readout which depicts any ongoing charging or discharging activity even though there are at best a token 40bhp and 35Nm at stake either way. The tiny e-motor and the supercapacitor it’s fed by adds 34 kilos to the total dry weight of 1595kilos which now also includes a 48V system but still no active anti-roll bars. The seats, dashboard and door panels are trimmed in supple red and black leather with contrasting white stitching – nice. Less appealing are the plasticky rocker switches which run across the fascia like rows of identical black pock marks.
Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4: verdict
Like that violet velvet Etro suit in the back of the closet, it is probably best perceived as posh accessory for special occasions and as fresh highlight of an important collection. To get the best out of this Lamborghini, find a wide open road and treat yourself to the car’s many talents while keeping an eye on its few shortcomings. Or look for a catwalk-quality boulevard and enjoy watching others marvel at this rare piece of street furniture from behind an ice-cold champagne cocktail.
The Countach 2.0 is a highly emotional and visually striking near-hypercar, but it is too pricey, volatile, and unwieldy for hardcore battles with modern B-road dominators.