McLaren MP4-12C, Lexus LFA, Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 and Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4: The Opinionated Supercar.

Of all the things that Lamborghini has been over the decades -- beautiful, outrageous, bankrupt -- it's not often been a technical pioneer. But there's no question that the Aventador places Lamborghini in the front pack of automakers with carbon-fiber proficiency. The Italians have a fertile carbon-fiber partnership with the University of Washington (which, in turn, has a similar association with Boeing) and are likely to profit even further from Volkswagen's composite development work now blooming in Qatar. Not that they're struggling to keep up.

Just how carbon-fiber-intensive is the Aventador? Even the molds that create the composite tub are made of carbon fiber. Compared with the usual steel or aluminum forms, carbon-fiber tooling is lighter and thus easier to maneuver in a facility where space is at a premium, like you'll find in a small shop in Sant'Agata Bolognese. For limited-production vehicles, these molds are also a cheaper investment than traditional forms, but the trade-off is a shorter usable life. Lamborghini says the Aventador's forms will last for an average of about 400 cars and that it has only eight molds for Aventador tubs.

With exclusivity guaranteed, Lamborghini cranked up the Aventador's desirability even further by doubling the dose of steroids. How it looks, how it sounds, how it drives -- you cannot ignore it. The Aventador is like a hyperactive ten-year-old without his Ritalin. Launch control is so violent that it can cause the driver to repeatedly activate the right turn signal with a knee. In Corsa mode, upshifts at redline feel like a sledgehammer whacking the bucket seats. Stiff springs and microscopic amounts of wheel travel mean that the body is always fidgeting over pavement imperfections. Any drive of more than an hour will leave the frazzled driver reaching for another popular drug -- Valium. These are either complaints or compliments. You decide.

By the numbers, there's no mistaking the Aventador for anything but a supercar. At 4070 pounds (600 pounds heavier than Lamborghini's claimed dry weight), it's not a featherweight, but like the Veyron, the Aventador has a huge powertrain and four-wheel drive. It accelerates much like the Bugatti, too, with just enough torque to slip all four wheels at launch but the grip to reach triple-digit speeds in the time that a quick sport sedan hits 60 mph. Stay committed, and the 6.5-liter normally aspirated V-12 will push the Aventador all the way to a 217-mph top speed. Just as brazen is the fact that Lamborghini intentionally passed on a dual-clutch automatic transmission, claiming that the single-clutch alternative was a better fit for the Lamborghini character. The bucking forward progress that comes at part throttle in first gear? That's taking the bull theme too far.

If nothing else, the Aventador is affirmation that progress doesn't have to mean abandoning the past. Even if Lamborghini has built the most technologically advanced bull in the history of the company, this car comes from the same bloodlines as the Countach and the Diablo -- cars that will grab your attention, lure you closer, and then scare the bejeezus out of you. The Aventador is wildly successful doing each of those, whether you like it or not.

Stronger than steel
Carbon fibers are produced by exposing a carbon-rich precursor material to progressively higher temperatures topping out between 1000*C and 3000*C in an oxygen-free environment. The resulting filament is roughly one-tenth the diameter of a human hair and is almost entirely carbon. The strength of these filaments is what makes carbon fiber as much as ten times stronger than high-strength steel. A single fiber -- called a "tow" in the industry -- is made up of thousands of filaments bundled (but typically not twisted) together.

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

BASE PRICE $393,695

POWERTRAIN
ENGINE
48-valve DOHC V-12
DISPLACEMENT 6.5 liters (397 cu in)
POWER 691 hp @ 8250 rpm
TORQUE 509 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
DRIVE 4-wheel

CHASSIS
STEERING
Electrohydraulically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT Control arms, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR Control arms, coil springs
BRAKES Carbon-ceramic vented discs, ABS
TIRES Pirelli PZero Corsa
TIRE SIZE F, R 255/35YR-19, 335/30YR-20

MEASUREMENTS
L x W x H
188.2 x 79.9 x 44.7 in
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
TRACk F/R 67.7/66.9 in
WEIGHT 4070 lb
WEIGHT DIST. F/R 45/55%
EPA MILEAGE 11/17 mpg
0-60 MPH 3.0 sec
TOP SPEED 217 mph

parkerboy2000
but wouldnt it be easyer to jut seal the crack with a strong ressin?
rob_krebs
Great article, Eric Tingwall! I absolutely agree with you that the cars of tomorrow will be made of strong, lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), and thanks to research and new developments, this won't be nearly as costly or time consuming as once thought. In fact, it was recently announced at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Conference that long GLASS fiber can now be modeled in Moldflow for plastics engineers, resulting in even more lightweight structural parts without the expense of carbon, and even more possibilities for the use of CFRP in automobiles.For more on CFRP car parts, visit: http://www.facebook.com/plasticcar and http://www.plastics-car.com/Resources/Resource-Library/Long-Glass-Fiber-Molding.html Rob Krebs, Market Innovations, American Chemistry Council
sschewe
I also remain a tad skeptical. I am an Audi Quattro aficionado, and Audi has certainly built a lot of A8s and R8s, but I hear that body repairs are expensive and must be done at special places.Carbon fiber??? I think NOT for street cars---as it's even worse than aluminum.BTW---we're leasing a Subie Impreza with four doors, room for four real sized people and AWD for the snowy MI where I live. It weighs 3050 pounds! It is composed of rally proven, tough, high strength steel---not even exotic aluminum is required.
andyoo
Disagree with this article. I have carbon fiber wheels and frame on my bike. When it crashes and have any crack or damage, the frame/wheel has to be replaced. There is no fixing on carbon. For exotic car, the owner can afford a replacement. For regular joe, it's too expansive to replace a car just becase there is a small damage to one part of the car. Like a fender bender will probably make your car unsafe if it's carbon. Plus it's hard to find damage since the crack could be under the clear coat, making it structurally unsafe.
Alleycat10
I can see it already. Plastic burns quite well. Regardless of the added plastic, fasteners will be of steel that corrodes. Many a mechanic gets out the torch to cut or heat stubborn corroded fasteners to make repairs or do replacements. Play that torch on or near plastic components and burn they will, and quite rapidly at that, quickly making a pile of ash, hot steel parts and melted/warped aluminum wheels behind.

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