Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (2006) review

Published:25 July 2006

Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (2006) review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

Looks like a Murcielago to me, what's this LP640 business all about?

The supercar competition has caught up - and in some cases overtaken - the Italian bruiser in the five years since its launch. We've had The Ferrari Enzo, Porsche Carrera GT, various Koenigseggs and Bugatti even got its act together and delivered the Veyron, each wanting a slice of the Lambo's pie. So Lamborghini closed the factory doors and rustled up this faster, harder and even more desirable car.

But it doesn't look any different.

Look closer. Yes, the body is basically the same, but the chin spoiler is new as is the option of clear glass on the rear bonnet to let you see the mighty V12. The wheels are different - but still only 18 inches high for that traditional hunkered supercar stance and there are changes to the tail lamps and rear panel vents to help release the er, trapped wind, that the old car was having trouble expelling at high speed. And that has to be the world's biggest tailpipe.

Okay but where does the LP640 bit come into it?

'LP' stands for 'longitudinal posteriore', a reference to the longitudinal layout of the engine and a tag Lamborghini first used on the Countach 35 years ago. The 640 bit is the power in PS the V12 can produce; it makes 631 old-fashioned British horsepower, up from 570bhp for the old car and a good 20bhp more than Ferrari's 599 GTB. There's also 487lb ft available to melt those fat rear tyres should you be in the mood. Although the basic engine design dates back to the 1960s, Lamborghini claims that 90 percent of the V12's components are new. There's also an extra 300cc for a 6500cc total and a more sophisticated variable valve timing system instead of the old-two-stage setup and the rev limiter doesn't chime in until 8000rpm or 500rpm later than before.

Can we presume it's rather rapid?

Presume away. Sixty-two blurs by in 3.4sec and all out the LP640 climbs another 7mph further round the dial than the 205mph Murcielago managed. It sounds sensational: deep, bassy and barrel-chested, almost truck-like and more than a little intimidating idling away at a busy 1000rpm. Give it some stick though and it really comes alive. You can feel the extra 61bhp at the top end of the rev range, the 6.5-litre V12 kicking harder and smoother than before.

So it's fast, but I'll bet it's a handful.

Not so. The 1665kg Lambo (up 15kg on its predecessor) is no flyweight but having the gearbox slung under the transmission tunnel rather than behind the engine helps even out the weight distribution, as does the four-wheel drive hardware at the front end. In fact the LP640 is impossibly easy to drive at any speed. The steering is light but full of feedback, the body control is incredible and the traction even more so. Given enough room you can get the rear to slide happily but get it wrong and you're going to make a big hole in the scenery, not to mention your bank balance. That's unlikely to happen though, not with the optional carbon brakes. The ceramic discs and Brembo callipers make an absolutely fantastic combination, are hugely powerful and full of feel. In fact they're far better to use than the slightly mushy-feeling Ferrari equivalent offered on the 599GTB.

Will I feel like I'm driving a supercar?

It's dark in the cabin, frighteningly fast, you can't see to reverse and the roar of the engine is ever-present: it seems to tick most of the boxes I think you'll agree. Not much has changed inside, just a couple of tweaks to the dials and a new Kenwood double-DIN stereo. It's beautifully made but a little restrained.

Verdict

The Murcielago undisputedly still remains relevant, or as relevant as a 212mph 1.7 tonne two seat lorry can be. UK prices have yet to be announced but it's likely to cost around 10 percent more than the current car, putting it at around £185,000. Whether or not you consider that a fair increase for the amount of new content, the fact remains that to get anywhere close to the Murcielago's package of bruising mid-engined excitement you'd be lucky to get change from £400k. There's life in the old bull yet.

Specs

Price when new: £197,460
On sale in the UK: now
Engine: 6496cc 48V V12, 361bhp@8000rpm, 487lb ft@6000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Performance: 3.4sec 0-62mph, 212mph
Weight / material: 1665kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4610/2058/1135

Rivals

Lamborghini Murcielago Cars for Sale

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  • Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (2006) review
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  • Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (2006) review
  • Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (2006) review
  • Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (2006) review

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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