Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann claims that the company is on a path marked by four things: sustainability, digitalization, urbanization, and geopolitics. For the carmaker that has provided so much visual fuel for car-obsessed teenagers the world over this past 60 years, that’s quite the high-speed lane change.
Then again, the world that the all-new Revuelto lands in is almost unrecognizable from the one the rakish Lamborghini 350 GT lit up back when the ’60s were starting to pendulate. Watching legacy carmakers pivot toward electrification isn’t always the most edifying spectacle, and Lamborghini’s first fully electric car and fourth model line won’t arrive until later in the decade. Which makes the Revuelto a transitional step between the outrageous internal combustion that Lamborghini is best known for and the new automotive world order. Is that enough?
It should be. The Revuelto is a plug-in hybrid, but it repurposes the technology in a manner befitting this extrovert Italian sports-car maker, a company whose annual turnover passed the €2 billion mark last year for the first time. In fact, Lamborghini says the Revuelto is an HPEV, for “high performance electrified vehicle,” a semantic sleight of hand designed to distance it from the hybrid norm. Performance is up by 30 percent, emissions reduced by the same amount. But this particular hybrid is dedicated to expanding the car’s dynamic bandwidth as much as it is tidying up its emissions or reframing a V-12 hypercar in a more socially acceptable way.
The Revuelto is a fascinating machine with a highly complex nervous system. “Everything started with the V-12,” Lamborghini’s chief technical officer Rouven Mohr tells WIRED. “We wanted a hybrid system that actually increases the perception of the V-12, preserves its identity. The hybrid is there to support you, to enable you to go faster, and most of all to improve the handling. You will not recognize that it’s a hybrid. On the move, it feels like a much faster, naturally aspirated V-12, and it will feel like a car that’s 150 kilograms lighter because of the torque vectoring. It feels so agile and precise.”
At its heart sits a naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 aided by three electric motors, two of which are mounted on the front axle, the third integrated into the all-new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. The e-motor on the ‘box also acts as the starter motor and a generator. Various revisions help the ECI to a power output of 814 brake horsepower at 9,250 rpm: It has been turned 180 degrees in the engine bay compared to the outgoing Aventador to accommodate the gearbox and e-motor, and at 218 kilograms weighs 17 less than before.
The central tunnel now houses a 3.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which consists of 108 water-cooled pouch cells. To give you some idea how small this pack is, the car can be fully charged in just 30 minutes on a 7-kW power supply, but the battery pack is more likely to be replenished under regenerative braking. The old-guard motoring world may not yet be ready for the sight of a Lamborghini hypercar attached to an electric umbilical cord, while EV evangelists may well feel this is too timid a conversion.
The electric motors on the front axle are oil-cooled axial flux units. Mohr and his team chose these because they’re more compact than radial flux ones and have a higher power and torque density. Each motor produces 110 kW and weighs 18.5 kilograms. Although the Revuelto has an electric range of about eight miles and can be driven silently in Citta mode, Lamborghini is clear that the tech exists primarily to heighten the car’s performance and high-speed dynamics. Together with the third e-motor above the gearbox, the Revuelto’s total power output is an eye-catching 1,001 bhp. Top speed is 217 mph; 0-to-62 takes just 2.5 seconds. There’s no word yet on emissions or fuel consumption.
An “Accessible” Lamborghini
The Revuelto is the latest in a long line of intimidating mid-engined Lamborghini V-12s, cars that inspire awe and respect in equal measure. But the new car, Mohr says, is more approachable and accessible. It’s true the hybridization presents numerous possibilities to encourage and embolden the driver: There are now 13 separate drive modes; Recharge, Hybrid, and Performance are new, and in EV-only Città mode maximum power is limited to 180 bhp.
Corsa mode serves up the full 1,000-plus bhp, the e-axle primed for maximum torque vectoring and all-wheel drive. There’s an active rear axle, too. The Revuelto promises to be more agile as the tempo increases and a good deal friendlier than its predecessors on the limit. Lamborghini has resisted calling it a “drift” mode, but in Sport mode, with the stability control dialed back, the new car will apparently indulge the more competent driver in delirious slides.