Car of the Year 2002: 3rd Place Lamborghini Murciélago

  • Patrick C. Paternie

For almost 40 years, running with Lamborghini’s bulls has left other exotic sports cars gasping for breath. Well, there is no rest for the weary. The 570-hp, 205-mph Murciélago has arrived as the successor to the Diablo. It easily outmuscles Aston Martin’s Vanquish by 120 hp, and Ferrari is left red-faced with a 550 Maranello that falls 85 horses short.

The Murciélago finally ties up all the loose ends that have bedeviled its Lamborghini predecessors by concentrating on refinement and comfort to go along with its outrageous perfor-mance and exceptional looks. The most discomforting experience encountered with this Lamborghini involves the pronunciation of its name. Do as the Italians and ignore the phonetics rules of your pocket Spanish dictionary. Just say mercy-ella-go.

While the name might be a tongue twister, getting into the Murciélago is less of a torso twister than with other Lambos, thanks to the enlarged openings of the trademark scissorlike doors. Even better, behind those doors is a cockpit that can easily accom-modate someone 6 feet 4 inches tall. No more rubbing shoulders with your passenger, either, and Italian driving moccasins are now required only for style points, thanks to the larger footwell.

The leather-and-suede-lined cabin combines elegance with purposefulness. A deep front compartment should hold a long weekend’s worth of luggage for two.

The angular, chiseled exterior profile may not be as outrageous as its predecessors’, but with its aluminum skin stretched over massive wheels, prominent dual exhausts poking up between the taillights, and self-propelled radiator air ducts, there is no mistaking the Murciélago for anything but a hyper perfor-mance car.

The Murciélago lives up to its looks by storming from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, accompanied by a raspy bellow from its mid-mounted V-12. Yet, thanks to all-wheel drive and a new 6-speed transmission, the car is easier to drive fast—and easier to drive slowly—than the Diablo.

With the Murciélago, Lamborghini demonstrates that it understands what it takes to stay ahead of the pack.

Specifications

Engine: 6.2-liter, dOHC V-12
Power: 580 hp at 7,500 rpm
Torque: 479 ft lbs at 5,400 rpm
Zero-to-60 time: 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 205 mph
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,630 pounds
Base price: $273,000

Second Opinions
“A fine update on a great original theme.” —Ken Gross

“An in-your-face, Darth Vader of a car that makes no pretense of excuse or apology to anyone. That’s what a supercar is supposed to be.” —J.P. Vettraino

“The raging bull is back—with a vengeance. Staggering performance, all-wheel-drive handling, drop-dead gorgeous looks, and for the first time, Audi-built quality.” —Howard Walker

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