Date posted: 2006-04-10 14:00:00.0
Lamborghini is expected to dip a little deeper into parent-company Audi's bank account over the next several years. Although some of the money will go toward modified versions of the current Murciélago and Gallardo sports cars, most of the cash will be used to expand the lineup beyond traditional two-seat exotics.
One of those cars is expected to be the 2009 Lamborghini Espada, a four-seat coupe similar to the original Espada of the late '60s and early '70s. That car was hardly what we would consider the pinnacle of Lamborghini design. In fact, we couldn't draw an uglier car if we tried. But it was a Lamborghini with a V12, and according to reviews at the time it drove a lot better than it looked.
The 325-horsepower engine was mounted up front, and delivered its power through a five-speed manual gearbox. All four of the independently suspended wheels had ventilated disc brakes and 15-inch Pirelli tires. Might not sound like much, but it was pretty exotic stuff for a four-seater in 1968.
The idea behind the original Espada was for a grand touring car with the heart of a sports car. With the big V12 up front there was plenty of power, and although there were only two doors, it had four full-size seats and even a little cargo room out back. It was SUV thinking in a package still worth driving just for fun.
Expect the same philosophy to make its way into the next-generation Espada. Although it's hard to say which platform the 2+2 coupe will use, an all-wheel-drive layout appears to be a given considering Audi/Lambo's current philosophy for exotics. Lamborghini is determined to make the Espada a better alternative to the upcoming Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera sedans. Both of those cars are expected to use front-engine designs like the Espada. A midengine configuration was considered, but Lamborghini settled on a more traditional layout to keep costs down.
With plenty of room to install one of its current V10 or V12 engines, Lamborghini could go either way when it comes to power. However, our sources suggest neither will be used, as Lamborghini thinks the V10 doesn't fit the car's image, while the V12 could have trouble meeting future emissions rules. The solution may come in the form of an all-new V12 loosely based on Lambo's 6.0-liter V10. The current 12-cylinder engine develops 580 hp, so a nice round 600 hp seems possible for the next-generation version. That would put the Espada way out in front of the 480-hp Aston and make even Ferrari's 532-hp 612 Scaglietti seem underpowered by comparison.
Lamborghini really can't go wrong with the styling, as anything would be an improvement over the original. To give you an idea of where this new Espada is headed, we put together a series of design sketches that map out the expected lines. It's still not pretty like a Ferrari, or sleek like an Aston, but it's different. And that's the way Lamborghini likes it.