Lamborghini reveals 1015hp hybrid V12 powertrain
'More power, more revs, more thrill, more emotion' – the Lambo V12 is back with 825hp at 9,250rpm
By PH Staff / Tuesday, 7 March 2023 / Loading comments
Attempting to upstage Ferrari is the oldest trick in the Lamborghini playbook, and probably its most endearing one. Sticking it to the Great Old Man was famously among its founder’s early ambitions (and ranked high as a motivating factor for the designer of its first V12, too); both, surely, would love the new hybrid powertrain the firm has conjured to sit at the heart of what it says is its first High Performance Electrified Vehicle – or the LB744, as the Aventador’s replacement is currently codenamed.
Ferrari has enjoyed enormous supremacy in recent years thanks to a) the stupendous 6.5-litre V12 engine in the 812, and b) the no-less-stupendous-in-its-own-way 1000hp, electrically-aided twin-turbocharged V8 in the paradigm-shifting SF90 Stradale. Now, Lamborghini, in one mighty, bullish charge, has attempted to slay both Italian stallions simultaneously: its all-new, mid-engined supercar will feature a) an 825hp naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12, and b) three electric motors – two on the front axle, one integrated into the transmission – to generate a combined maximum output of 1015hp, alongside zero-emission functionality.
It gets better. Let’s start with the V12, because plainly that’s the biggest and best bit. Is it related to the old 6.5-litre unit? Absolutely. In fact, it almost certainly shares some of its overhauled attributes with the derivative Lamborghini stuffed into the track-only Essenza SCV12 back in 2020 – certainly, it has repeated that model’s trick of spinning the motor through 180 degrees so that a new transverse gearbox can be mounted at the rear (we’ll come back to that). Either way, now designated L545, the engine is claimed as the lightest and most powerful V12 Lamborghini has ever made.
Specifically, it weighs 218kg, which is said to be 17kg less than the Aventador’s V12, and delivers 534lb ft of torque at 6,750rpm. It boasts a superior compression ratio to its predecessor (12.6:1 compared to 11.8:1 in the Ultimae) and apparently delivers its 825hp output at a knee-trembling 9,250rpm – a redline it shares with the 812 Competizione. Lamborghini says it will support a ‘maximum rev range of 9,500rpm’. It also suggests particular attention has been lavished on the ‘soundtrack of the new V12, and we can expect a ‘natural harmonious crescendo’. Well, quite.
Let’s return to that gearbox. If the V12 has been revised and reheated for life after 2023, the new transmission is described as nothing less than the ‘nerve centre of the hybrid plug-in unit’. As you might expect, it is not referring to the old Graziano single-clutch automated manual. Mercifully (let’s be honest) that has been ditched in favour of an all-new, in-house designed, all-singing eight-speed Double Clutch Transmission. Adorably, Lamborghini talks up some of its more predictable features like its introducing a flux capacitor (we’re told the ‘box will downshift multiple ratios if you hold down the left paddle – holy cow!) but there’s little doubt this is where much time and energy has been invested.
For one thing, it’s been made as compact as possible, measuring 560mm long, 750mm wide and 580mm high. It goes without saying it’s quicker than its predecessor, but it would be lighter too if you disregarded the electrical components. With its top-mounted electric motor factored in, the whole unit is said to weigh 193kg. The function of the 150hp/110lb ft motor depends on which driving mode you’ve selected: when providing additional power to the V12, it’s in what Lamborghini considers its P3 position; when it’s in P2, it helps recharge the battery at low speeds, and when parked (P1, presumably) it acts as the engine’s starter motor.
Additionally, in P3 it is capable of driving the rear wheels itself if called upon, which, in conjunction with the brace of 150hp electric motors mounted on the front axle (i.e. one per wheel) means Lamborghini’s HPEV can claim to be an all-wheel drive supercar even in its all-electric mode (though most of the time it will be front-wheel drive). The manufacturer reckons the two oil-cooled axial flux units offer exceptional power-to-weight, and when you consider they only weigh 18.5kg each, you can see where it’s coming from. Of course, their real job (beyond providing you with a reverse gear) is to make 258lb ft apiece available to their respective front tyre while the V12 dispenses its quota to the rear – Lamborghini doesn’t go into precise detail about how all this is marshalled or the level of straight-line performance you can expect, but we’re going to say ‘a-l-o-t’.
Driving the motors – and, indeed, the reason for spinning the engine around – is the lithium-ion battery pack sequestered in the now helpfully vacated transmission tunnel. Naturally, Lamborghini has mounted this 1,550mm long, 301mm high, 240mm wide unit as low as possible and with a view to ensuring optimising weight distribution. How much precisely it does weigh is left unanswered for now, but, much like in the SF90, the electric-only range is likely to be very modest on the basis that its maker quotes an overall capacity of 3.8kWh. Still, Lamborghini reckons you can completely recharge it in 30 minutes from a domestic plug – or the mighty V12 (with some assistance from regenerative braking) will do the job in as little as six minutes.
As ever, the devil is in the detail to come – and we’re promised plenty as we approach the LB744’s official unveiling – but if there was any doubt that Lamborghini might struggle to adequately replace its much-loved supercar, it is starting to fade. By marrying a naturally aspirated (and reliably brilliant) V12 engine to the sort of electrified architecture that has proven to work in a supercar setting, the manufacturer can already claim to have delivered precisely the sort of hybrid flagship its customers will have been clamouring for. Its average CO2 emissions are 30 per cent lower than the Ultimae’s, yet power is up. Assuming it doesn’t look like a potato or drive like a lead-filled DeLorean, there’s a good chance Lamborghini’s 60th year will be one to remember.
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