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Lamborghini Murcielago
(2002) - High-tech Supercar

Lamborghini Murcielago cutaway - click to enlarge

In the late afternoon of October 5th 1879, after a fierce fight in the arena of Cordoba, a bull named Murciélago from Joaquin del Val di Navarra's farm, had his life spared by the famous matador Rafael Molina "Lagartijo". This was a very rare occurrence in bullfighting, and an honour accorded only to those bulls that have shown exceptional courage and spirit in the arena. And Murciélago was indeed such a bull. He was subsequently given to the breeder Don Antonio Miura, and went on to father a formidable line of fighting bulls that extends right down to the present day. True to the tradition in which the bull has always been the symbol of the prestigious motorcar company founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini - born under the sign of Taurus, no less - the management at Automobili Lamborghini have decided to baptise the latest car in the noble line with the name of a fighting bull.

The Lamborghini Murciélago is 2-seater, 2-door coupé (with the now familiar gull-wing doors) based on the traditional Lamborghini layout: mid-mounted V12 engine, typical Lamborghini transmission with the gearbox mounted in front of the engine and the rear differential integrated into the engine unit, permanent four-wheel drive with central viscous coupler. This layout, successfully employed by Lamborghini for more than 30 years, affords an optimal weight distribution (42% front and 58% rear) with conspicuous advantages for traction, braking and handling. The Murciélago chassis has been stiffened considerably to achieve a torsional rigidity value in excess of 20,000 Nm/°. The suspension design (independent double wishbones) represents the best possible solution for a high-performance GT and, again, is in keeping with Lamborghini tradition. The external bodywork panels are made from carbon fibre, with the exception of the steel roof and door panels. The rear of the car features two "active" intakes for the engine cooling air. With the exclusive VACS ("Variable Air-flow Cooling System"), the aperture of these air intakes can be varied to suit the driving conditions. Furthermore, to ensure correct aerodynamic equilibrium at all speeds, the angle of the rear spoiler can also be altered. According to the speed of the car, the rear spoiler can assume three different positions: closed from 0 to130 km/h, partially open (50°) between 130 and 220 km/h and fully open (70°) above 220 km/h. Depending on the aperture of the air intakes and the position of the rear spoiler, the car's Cx coefficient varies from a minimum of 0.33 to a maximum of 0.36.

The Murciélago's engine - which complies with the strictest emission standards in the world, including those of the United States, Japan and Europe - is a 12-cylinder 60° V with a displacement of 6192 cc, made entirely from aluminium alloy and designed for unleaded fuel, producing 580 CV (426 kW) at 7500 rpm and 650 Nm torque at 5400 rpm. Torque delivery is optimised across the entire engine operating band (even at engine speeds relatively low for a sports car) thanks to the adoption of a variable-geometry intake system (VIS), variable valve timing (VVT) on both inlet and exhaust camshafts, and the "drive-by-wire" electronic throttle control, which makes for reduced emissions, improved idle speed control and improved driveability. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that at just 2000 rpm, the Murciélago produces more torque than maximum value attained by the majority of Granturismo cars in today's market. Unlike its predecessor, the Murciélago has a dry sump lubrication system that allows the engine to be positioned 50 mm lower, with a consequent lowering of the centre of gravity. The variable intake system, which essentially alters the geometry of the intake system upstream of the primary intake passages, provides three different operating modes obtained by the opening and closing of two butterfly valves (one on the plenum chamber and one on the by-pass pipe), the operation of which is entrusted to the Lamborghini LIE engine control units. The VACS ("Variable Air-flow Cooling System") is an entirely new concept in air intake technology. A high-performance car obviously requires a high-power engine. And, in turn, a high-power engine needs an efficient cooling system with appropriately proportioned air intakes. In a conventional fixed system, these air intakes have to be dimensioned to suit the most extreme operating conditions, such as, for example, very high external air temperatures, even though these conditions are rarely encountered during normal running (accounting on average for only 15% of the vehicle's total usage). This means that air intakes have to be made too large for average use, thus compromising the car's aerodynamic characteristics and performance. To avoid this compromise, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. has designed a variable air-flow cooling system in which the aperture of the air intakes can be altered to suit the cooling requirements of the engine and the external air temperature. As a consequence, the car's aerodynamic characteristics are only compromised when necessary, which, as stated previously, amounts to only about 15% of the total vehicle usage.

As mentioned previously, the Lamborghini Murciélago has is - for the first time in the history of the Brand - a new 6-speed gearbox, while the transmission maintains the traditional Lamborghini layout. To increase the general rigidity of the system and improve basic stability in operation, the primary shaft and the secondary shaft are each mounted on three bearings (as against 2 on the Diablo).

The Murciélago, like its predecessor the Diablo, is equipped with permanent four-wheel drive and a central viscous coupling (Viscous Traction System), with 45% limited slip and the front with 25% limited slip. This solution represents an active traction control system: excess torque on the primary axle (rear) is automatically transferred to the secondary axle (front) to maintain ideal traction at all times. Furthermore, in order to meet the demands of extreme driving, Lamborghini has also developed a traction control system that acts on the engine itself. When the limits of grip are reached, driving torque is suitably reduced by intervening on both the throttle (by way of the DBW system) and the injection/ignition systems.

The Murciélago chassis has been stiffened considerably to achieve a torsional rigidity value in excess of 20,000 Nm/°. The attainment of this value was one of the fundamental objectives of the design programme, and translates into a significant improvement in the car's performance: improved suspension behaviour and handling, greater driving comfort and an appreciable reduction in interior noise. The chassis consists of a frame made of high-strength steel tube, with structural elements in carbon fibre/honeycomb. The carbon fibre elements are attached to the steel frame using a combination of adhesives and steel rivets. The chassis, which has a structural steel roof and a carbon fibre floor pan attached to the tubular frame, incorporates pressed steel panels with stiffening ribs, which also have a structural function.

At the front end of the chassis, the mountings for the shock absorbers, the torsion bar and the front suspension have all been moved forward by 15 mm (wheelbase=2665mm); some of the tubes and panels in the area of the rear wheel arches have been replaced by carbon fibre panels, these being attached to the perimeter of the tubular frame; the geometry of the lower part has been modified to suit the more forward positioning of the front axle and thereby improve accessibility and increase the space available for the pedals.

The independent front and rear double wishbone suspensions, with steel arms and hydraulic shock absorbers with electronic damping control allowing automatic or manual adjustment, have been optimised to improve handling and straight-line stability. The main improvements concern the springs and the shock absorbers, the anti-roll bars - front and rear - and the overall suspension setup. Also worthy of mention are the front "Antidive" and the rear "Antisquat" systems that can guarantee an optimal suspension behaviour also during acceleration and braking. The springs - two per rear wheel and one per front wheel - are mounted coaxially with the shock absorbers. The spring/damper assemblies are attached to the chassis with Flanbloc bushes.

The dimensions of the aluminium alloy wheel rims with concealed valves are 8 ½ x 18" (front) and 13 x 18"(rear); the sizes of the PIRELLI P Zero "ROSSO" tyres are respectively 245/35 ZR 18 and 335/30 ZR 18. The wheel rims feature a new design that improves the air cooling circulation around the brake disks and calipers. The new tyres allow for a more comfortable ride, reduce road noise and improve handling.

The braking system consists of four disk brakes, each with 4 wheel cylinders per caliper, and two independent hydraulic circuits - one for the front axle and one for the rear. The system includes a tandem master cylinder, a vacuum servo brake, an emergency brake and a parking brake. There is also a 4-channel ABS system with DRP (Dynamic Rear Proportioning) and TCS. The TRW antilock braking system, which forms an integral part of the basic braking system, consists of an electro-hydraulic control unit and 4 wheel speed sensors. The electro-hydraulic control unit, with dedicated microprocessor, receives the signals from the 4 electromagnetic speed sensors mounted on the hub flanges, and calculates the speed and acceleration of each individual wheel. Using this information, the microprocessor is able to detect a tendency to slip on any wheel and modulate the fluid pressure in the corresponding brake line accordingly, in order to restore the correct speed and thereby maximum braking force on that particular wheel. The 4-channel system is able to monitor and control each wheel independently.

Compared with previous models, the driveability of the Murciélago is significantly improved, thanks to the smoother torque curve, increased power, the new 6-speed gearbox and the improved electronic engine management system. Handling and high-speed stability are also better, thanks mainly to the improved torsional rigidity of the chassis, the lowering of the car's centre of gravity, the optimisation of the suspension and tyres and - last but not least - the improved aerodynamics. The advances made in terms of driveability and performance, apparent even under the most demanding driving conditions, are matched by an equally significant improvement in driving comfort.

Lamborghini.com © 2003

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Lamborghini Murcielago

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