Lamborghini Murcielago replacement driven

evo's Michael Taylor has a drive in Lamborghini's Murcielago replacing flagship supercar

The driver in front of me is off the pace. Can’t say I blame him - V-max turn-in speed for the Nardo handling circuit’s Turn One is around 150mph in this car. It’s a proper man’s corner, made even more intimidating by the fact that once you’ve tipped the car into the long left-hander at the end of the kilometre-long straight, you need to constantly balance the big V12 with delicate, heart-stopping throttle adjustments all the way through it.

And then the sting – it eventually tightens into a third-gear left-hander. As corners go, it’s already a legend amongst the world’s car-company test drivers.

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In the Murciélago, even in the lighter, sharper SV version, this corner is an enormous handful. Not so the LP837, a prototype of its replacement. This car is sensitive to every subtle adjustment you want to make with the throttle or the steering, and it doesn’t bite.

Even so, 135mph is a significantly quick pace to be turning the steering wheel. And then it happens. I see the heavy, glassfibre camouflage begin to flutter on the back of the Italian’s prototype. We’re still balancing the mid-engined supercar between the suede steering wheel and the throttle when the fluttering becomes full-on flapping. The straps holding the camouflage down tear through the tail-light lenses and the wind picks up the entire rear clamshell and hurls the black cladding 20 metres into the air before it falls back onto the road. Right in front of me.

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Hard on the brakes, the LP837 darts left, then right, then left again, picking a line through the destroyed camouflage. And then, when it’s out the other side, the big Lamborghini gets back to business.

It’s fast, this car. Very, very fast. Considerably quicker than the old Murciélago around here (considerably faster than the Gallardo, too) and much easier to drive. Likely to be designated LP700-4 (700PS, 4wd), we won’t know it’s full name until it’s unveiled at the Geneva show in March (top tips are Jota and Aventador). What we do know now are the details of its engine, gearbox and carbonfibre chassis. The latter means the production model should weigh around 1500kg – about 160kg lighter than the Murciélago, though the whisper is it will use plastic body panels rather than carbon.

See more pictures, read the full story and find out about the new Lamborghini's impressive new technology in evo 152, the Car of the Year issue, on sale now.

Lamborghini tech boss Maurizio Reggiani says it will blast to 62mph in under three seconds and will have a near 220mph top speed, and I’ve no reason to doubt him. The all-new V12 engine is a masterpiece of sound, fury and stupendous accuracy to the driver’s foot. That 700PS (690bhp) power peak, achieved at 8250rpm and backed up by 509lb ft of torque at a tallish 6000rpm, is impressive, but it’s the nature of the new V12’s delivery that leaves the biggest impression, coming in a smooth, seamless rush.

But while the engine hauls to 8500rpm and the gearbox slams home the shifts in record time, it’s the chassis that really stars. No other supercar feels this together – and this is a prototype. It is so easy to drive, quickly or slowly, that it basically eradicates the direct, physical threat you felt every time you stepped into a Murciélago. It’s no less of an event to drive, mind you.

You can tip it in to a corner violently or smoothly and it won’t hurt you either way. Go for the more liberal ESP of the Corsa mode and it will allow a touch of oversteer but the LP837 feels so complete, so accurate and so integrated that you can throw it around with the same level of trust that you would an Evo X. And at night, with the camo removed, it’s as solid as a rock at over 190mph on the high-speed bowl. It’s a superb machine.

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See more pictures, read the full story and find out about the new Lamborghini's impressive new technology in evo 152, the Car of the Year issue, on sale now.

Say farewell to the Lamborghini Murcielago with our big gallery

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