The Aventador will bow out as an all-time great, but a manual Murci is arguably the V12 Lambo sweet spot
By Cam Tait / Monday, 27 February 2023 / Loading comments
Our recent run of PH25 polls has got us thinking about where the sweet spot is in any given car’s lineage. Think the 997 GT3 for the 911, the Fisker-designed Aston Martin V8 Vantage or the BMW E46 M3. All are available with manual gearboxes, are relatively lightweight compared to their modern-day counterparts and are from an era before strict emission laws robbed us of shouty exhausts.
But what of supercars? Surely the latest will always be the greatest, right? What with performance and technology being critical to a supercar’s appeal? That’s certainly the case for cars like the McLaren 650S and Ferrari 488, both of which all but faded from view somewhat the moment their faster, more competent successors came along. But for cars where outright speed and fancy gadgets take a back seat to big engines that make lots of noise, the oldies can very often be the goldies – exemplified by this extremely green Lamborghini Murcielago.
Of course, you don’t need us to tell you why the Murcielago is worthy of your consideration. While Audi oversaw run-out models of the Diablo, the Murcielago was the first to be built from the ground up under the German car giant’s watchful eye. It meant that the styling was just as jaw-dropping as its predecessors (even Lamborghini’s Belgian design chief had been plucked from Audi), with all the boring bits – ergonomics, electronics, reliability and so on – being handled by the same people churning out family saloons and SUVs. We all thought Audi ownership would stifle one of the world’s most extravagant supercar makers, but instead it helped drag Lamborghini into the modern age.
That didn’t come at the expense of the V12 engine, which, if we listen to the doom-mongers, should have died about 30 years ago. The Murcielago’s 6.2-litre V12 was a development of the 6.0-litre engine found in the Diablo, featuring a drive-by-wire throttle, new electronic management and dry sump lubrication. Power was lifted to 580hp, just 22hp more than the run-out Diablo VT, though the various improvements to the Murcielago engine resulted in a broader torque band with 400lb ft available at just 2,000rpm. And given that power was sent across both axles this time, straight-line performance was spectacular. The 0-62mph sprint could be dispatched in 3.6 seconds (though the ad claims 3.8 seconds), with its top speed rated at 205mph.
Big numbers are what win the supercar game, though where the Murcielago excelled over its predecessor is that it was properly usable. So much so that you could get an automated manual with Lamborghini’s e-Gear which handled the shifting for you. Using paddles like Michael Schumacher was a novelty back in the early 2000s, meaning most Murcielago’s that come up for sale are e-Gear models. Most, but not all. Early examples were offered exclusively with a six-speed manual, before it was phased out of the Murcielago range at the end of the LP-640’s production run.
That, dear PHer, is why a manual Murcielago is the sweet spot in the V12 Lamborghini line. A V12-engined Italian supercar with three pedals, overseen by Germans – and it doesn’t get much better than this 2003 example in knockout Verde Ithaca. Being a manual, it does carry a slight premium over the equivalent e-Gear at £184,990, although the three-pdeal cars are said to be a fair bit more reliable, too. Not that buying a V12 supercar is ever the sensible choice. But if you’re going to do it you might as well do it properly.
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