First Drive: 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce

Charlie Magee

To lose weight, Lamborghini fitted a redesigned exhaust that alone is 57 pounds lighter. The new seats, the absence of a stereo, and a carbon-fiber center console remove another 75 pounds. Replacing the motorized rear wing with a fixed version saves 29 more pounds. Mainly through material substitution and lightweight construction, the engine, gearbox, and differential lost a combined 73 pounds. Despite heavier-gauge steel, the stiffer tubular spaceframe is now 44 pounds lighter than before. The more efficient wheel design, a smaller-diameter clutch, composite floor panels, and less sound-deadening material also cut weight. Partially offsetting all these efforts, underbody reinforcements, bigger brakes, and a beefed-up transmission add more muscle to the bones.

To emphasize the SV's weight advantage, engineers found an extra 30 hp by tweaking intake manifolds and valve timing. The 661-hp, 6.5-liter SV unit marks the most powerful iteration of the legendary V-12 that dates to a Giotto Bizzarrini design from the early 1960s. The 60-degree, quad-cam V-12 needs high revs to deliver. The torque curve peaks at 6500 rpm, and maximum power arrives at 8000 rpm, at which point you have about 300 rpm before the limiter finally cuts in.

Despite its space-age looks, this is actually an old-fashioned car with an old-fashioned engine. If you don't rev the hell out of the V-12, it can be difficult to shake off the inevitable flock of hot hatches. And when it does spin all the way to the redline, the engine zooms through about five different stages of NVH. First, there is the shouting match between the supersmooth idle and the erratic clutch engagement that's typical of every E-gear transmission. Next, the needle of the rev counter will spin speedily but uneventfully through 4000 rpm of no-man's land. At about 4500 rpm, the torque curve climbs skyward like a volcanic eruption. At 6000 rpm, the next power infusion feels almost as if a couple of turbos have joined in, and then a similar push manifests itself at 7000 rpm. You can, of course, increase the entertainment factor at any time by selecting sport mode for those famously loud downshifts, for a ferocious launch-control-enhanced getaway at traffic lights, or for a second-gear Ferrari chase should any suitable prey present itself.

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