There’s something about a Lamborghini – the raw power, the sledgehammer appeal.
They may lack finesse, but boy do they have impact, and that’s before you even turn the ignition key.
But the days of such rampantly anti-PC excess are numbered. In fact, the Murcielago you see here should be no more. Under parent company Audi, a new V12 engine and a new body for a new era were a done deal until Lambo’s engineers rebelled.
This engine is therefore the last hurrah for a magnificent powerplant that breathed its first in the 1967 Miura. And it’s slotted into an updated version of the 2001 car’s steroid-riddled body.
Changes were made to the bumpers, the wheels and the muffler outlet – its massive mouth yawning from the rear diffuser.
The subtle aerodynamic changes, modified electronics, new springs and stablisers with modified electronic dampers plus a beefed-up gearbox, diff and axle shafts are all there for one reason only. To show this more powerful engine off.
Just turning the key’s an experience as the 12 mighty cylinders fire up. The venerable donor gets a new crank and heads, a new intake and four new ECUs, plus the rebore that takes it to a 6.5-litre capacity.
Torque’s 660Nm at 6000rpm, with the 471kW power peak at 8000rpm, just shaving the redline.
Yes, that’s 281kW per tonne and should take the car from zero to hero in 3.4 seconds – half a second quicker than the previous version.
Point this feral snout at the horizon, smack her into first, plant boot and all hell lets loose – the car soaring to 100km/h in first and smack on the power peak. Hit second and 187km/h arrives before you need third; yes, we did try it on a closed road – an airfield taxiway. Which ran out before we did...
Drive like this and you very quickly run out of road. At 100km/h in second, you’re at 5000rpm and nearing peak torque. In third, you’re relaxing at 3600rpm; in top, she’s still loud, but cruising at 2300.
The Murcielago will pull from there if asked to – but you’ll lose the hair-raising effect of the cylinders’ massed choir.
Conduct that manic symphony for long and you’d need hearing aids, but it’d be worth it. The engine barks and howls at even modest revs; keep that needle near the red-zone and your skull vibrates.
Even cruising isn’t a shy and retiring experience, what with noise from the massive 245/35 front and 335/30 rear tyres wrapping those 19-inch Hermera rims; the squeaks and rattles of outraged fixtures and fittings and the crash and clash of the manual gear lever clanging through the gate.
Yes indeedy, the six-speed manual with its shorter gear ratios may be easier to use, but with the gate carved from solid metal it needs emphatic action to negotiate.
That action’s about as subtle as the bordello flavour of the quilted leather seats, or the gaping mouths of the air intakes mounted behind your ears as they open electronically to suck more air into that stupendous powerplant.
The superlatives don’t end there, for the car is quick. There’s very little namby-pamby tyre-spinning, frittering power into smoke. For the urge is sent to all four wheels, the car measuring dynamic oscillation, weight distribution and friction to direct power as required - all of it to the rear if needed.
Combine that with staggering levels of grip and warp speed is yours– provided you pick the smoothest lines.
And leave the traction control on. No, I wasn’t game to switch it off – at $630,000 as tested my bank account couldn’t stomach the almost guaranteed trip into the shrubbery.
As it was, I had ample opportunity to sample the very efficient brakes – the 380 by 38mm self vented discs gripped by six-piston callipers.
I also sampled the nose-lifting device that’s a necessary evil when negotiating almost any driveway. It’s especially required during those frequent trips to the pump – my drive, including motorway cruising, netted a 28 litres/100km thirst...
Price? You’ll spend $562,500 on the base car, but few people do. After all, you can have carbon fibre trim for $14,065.
A transparent engine cover for $15,190, carbon ceramic brakes for $28,195 – add $1665 for the calliper colour of your choice – then E-gear for just $19,350.
Are there downsides – apart from the purchase price and fuel bill, that is? A few, yes.
The interior looks like a 1970s soft-porn refugee. At more than two metres wide and nearly five long, it’s not an ideal round-town car, even for showing off. There’s almost no rear vision, and though there are two airbags and ABS, plus more luggage space than expected, it’s not a practical everyday driving proposition.
But no-one buys a Lamborghini to be practical. They don’t even buy one because it screams money – there are more refined cars that do that just as well.
They buy it because they like the rock-star image, the almost palpably sexy aura, or because such rampant worship to the gods of noise and speed appeal to that large seam in all of us that’s still a young gun out for high-adrenaline fun.