THE launch of a Lamborghini concept car is usually a big, brash and shouty affair, accompanied by roaring engines, smoke and even flames, so the unveiling of the new Asterion at the big VW Group event the night before the Paris Motor Show was a case of stunned silence.
When the words “Can extreme performance be silent?” came up on the big screens, there were hushed whispers, and then, when the sleek-looking Lambo Asterion LPI910-4 actually rolled out on stage, without making a sound, you could have heard a pin drop.
A smattering of stunned applause followed, but the loudest noise in the room was of jaws hitting the ground.
Lamborghini’s first plug-in hybrid, which can run for up to 50km on electricity alone before switching to its more traditional V10, is only a concept, for now, but company boss Stephan Winkelmann was talking it up as a car that “combines all the core values of our brand”.
On the plus side, the Asterion’s three electric motors can be called on to boost power in go-hard mode, providing a total whack of about 680kW (910 horsepower, hence the model designation), which does sound in line with Lambo’s core values.
Lamborghinis are typically named after fighting bulls, but Asterion was the name of a minotaur in Greek mythology, and minotaurs are a “hybrid” of human and bull.
The Asterion is not your regular eco-car, though; it bursts to 100km/h in 3.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 320km/h.
A carbonfibre chassis keeps weight down, even if Lamborghini's not telling us exactly how much it weighs.
The mid-mounted 5.2-litre V10 (as used in Huracan, Gallardo and the Audi R8) produces the same 449kW as in the Huracan.
A generator sits between the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and the V10, while lithium-ion batteries line the centre tunnel of the all-wheel-drive coupe and feed two electric motors on the front axle.
In EV mode, which has a top speed of 125km/h, the Asterion becomes Lamborghini’s first (gulp) front-wheel-drive car.
The hexagonal design theme that started with the Reventon in 2007 means the Asterion looks like a modern Lambo family member, with sharp, crisp edges and hard-edged exhaust pipes, mesh grilles and even a transparent engine cover.
Same with the cabin, which shares the Huracan's crass shapes and trying-too-hard look, including tacky digital instruments, though a removable tablet may be welcomed by those posting their location – in a Lambo – on social media.
However, the Asterion is not yet confirmed for production.