The 2014 Paris Motor Show had a nice surprise on the Automobili Lamborghini SpA stand, they unveiled something not too many people were expecting from Sant'Agata, the bright blue metallic Asterion LPI910-4 was unveiled ... the first Lamborghini hybrid ever, with 610 hp from the Huracan sourced V10 engine and an additional 300 hp from 3 electric motors (100hp each).
The Asterion design was a return to the roots of Lamborghini but with the most modern power option ever, with the Huracan and Aventador being super cars, the Asterion was more of a GT with a very comfortable interior finished in Bianco Celaeno over Marrone Attis and state of the art controls ... naturally this was a one of a kind concept car, and while being fully functional it would remain a showcase of technology that would not be turned into a production model soon.
Still the competition from other makes offering hybrid super cars is present, so Lamborghini created the Tosca, named after an opera composed by Giacomo Puccini and using the flagship Aventador as a basis for a unique test mule.
The Lamborghini Tosca looks like an Aventador finished in Arancio Argos on the outside, but inside things are very different, the original 700hp V12 engine has been replaced by the V10 taken from the Huracan, at 610hp this 5.2 liter package is smaller than the 6.5 liter V12 and offers a better power to displacement ratio (108hp/l for the V12 against 117hp/l for the V10).
Because of the smaller space required by the V10 engine the addition of three electric motors and a 200 Kw battery pack required to power them is much easier compared to the much larger V12 engine. Maurizio Reggiani explained the Lamborghini Tosca is still a four wheel drive car, but the front wheels are powered by electric motors while the V10 powers the rear wheels only. The third electric engine which includes a starter motor and generator, is positioned between the V10 engine and the seven-speed transmission.
This results in an on-demand four wheel drive option and the hybrid mode that puts all power together for a total power output of 910 hp, the only issue that still remains at this point in time is the weight of the batteries and the time it take to charge them ... but future evolution of battery technology could change this on a very short term.
Even with the removal of the mechanical four wheel drive system from the original Aventador drivetrain, the addition of over 200 kg of motors and batteries increases the overall weight of the Tosca well beyond the 1575 kg of the V12 base car ... and after that the problem with the batteries comes into play again ... how will their performance degrade over time, how many times can they be charged before they have to be replaced, the weight is still a major issue right now as is their large size ... and let's not forget the actual cost of the battery packs.
There is no denying the fact the Lamborghini Tosca weighs more than the original Aventador or the new Superveloce, but keep in mind there is at least 160hp more available too, so even if we add the 205 kg of the hybrid system, take 50 kg away for the mechanical four wheel drive system we could guess the Tosca puts 1730 kg on the scales ... that is still 0.526 hp/kg ... compare that with 0.49 hp/kg on the Aventador Superveloce and 0.44 hp/kg for the regular Aventador and the Tosca should leave both of them in a cloud of dust while accelerating from a standstill.
Remember electric motors deliver an instant torque, in this case a total of 295 lb-ft ... add this to the V10's 509 lb-ft and you reach an impressive maximum torque figure of 804 lb-ft, still the top speed is about 30km/h lower when compared to the regular Aventador while acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 1/10th of a second more too ... the penalty of 200kg of extra weight, still 320 km/h and 3 seconds flat from 0 to 100 km/h isn't too bad.
Stephan Winkelmann, CEO and director of Automobili Lamborghini SpA has made it absolutely clear ... there will be no hybrid system in any of the models in the current line up at Sant'Agata, he also made clear the Urus, to be launched in 2018, will most likely be available with an evolution of the Asterion hybrid system, in case of the Urus the additional weight would not be that influential on performance ... after that the successor for the Aventador will almost certainly offer hybrid propulsion ... delivering over 1,000 hp in total.
At this moment it would not make sense to create an Aventador/Tosca hybrid to be sold in larger numbers to customers, sources at Audi AG mentioned a total, additional cost of $90,000 per car for the parts alone, add the costs of development and dealer maintenance into the equation and the MSRP for a Lamborghini Tosca could easily go into the $1,000,000 region ... which happens to be the mark on the LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 ... thus explaining why those are so expensive in the first place, developing a hybrid system for a super car isn't easy, nor cheap.
Looks like the first Lamborghini super car to feature a lightweight hybrid propulsion system will be introduced in 2020 only, after the Aventador has been in production for about 9 years she will most likely be replaced by a 1,000+ hp combining a fuel engine and electric engines ... the Tosca test mule is the first step in that, inevitable direction for the future.
Photos courtesy of AutomobileMag.com