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Replacement for the Aventador is a plug-in hybrid – but one with a V12 engine and 1001bhp

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The company so widely credited with establishing the mechanical template of the mid-engined supercar in the 1960s, Lamborghini has actually been tinkering and experimenting with that template ever since.

Now, in 2023, it has turned the page on another fascinating chapter of technically innovative, brilliantly extravagant vehicular savagery - as full of noise, excitement and drama as any that it has written before - with the Lamborghini Revuelto.

The revered Lamborghini Miura of 1966 needed more power and better cooling, so what was a transverse-mounted V12 engine eventually became a bigger, higher-output, longitudinally mounted one in the 1971 Countach - but also one with a gearbox fixed on the forward side of the engine, to the improvement of the car’s weight distribution.

When the Diablo VT arrived in 1993, that gearbox sprouted a centre differential, forward driveshafts and four-wheel drive – mechanically speaking, a pretty easy add-on. 

But when the baby Lamborghini Gallardo came along in 2003, it adopted a gearbox fitted at the opposite end of the north-south engine and a driveshaft running forwards the full length of the wheelbase for what had become by that time “Lamborghini-typical supercar four-wheel drive”.

All the while, of course, the bigger Murciélago and then the Aventador stuck with Paolo Stanzani’s Countach-era forward-mounted gearbox, with a driveshaft running backwards to the rear axle.

Over the years, Lamborghini really has tried it every which way when it comes to the mechanical configuration of these sports cars. And now along comes the 21st century’s technical solution - and it might even be the cleverest and best yet.

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lamboghini revuelto review 2023 02 tracking nose

As the company’s first series-production plug-in hybrid, the Lamborghini Revuelto is a vital catalyst for its maker, beginning a ‘decarbonising’ electrification effort that will soon envelop both the Lamborghini Urus super-SUV and the replacement for the Lamborghini Huracán and allow the firm to demonstrate - with a series of EU lab test results, at least - that it’s doing its bit to cut emissions.

Yet the Revuelto is perhaps most interesting as a new answer to a question that every successive generation of Sant Agata’s designers and engineers must have pondered for almost six decades: how exactly do we get a big engine into the optimal place in a super sports car and have it drive all four wheels? Which compromise should we tolerate? A potentially problematic rearward weight distribution? A raised engine and associated centre of gravity?

Lamborghini designers have an unenviable job, now more than ever, but, to my eyes, the Revuelto ought to look bolder. It reminds me of the Ford GT, Honda NSX or Chevrolet Corvette, and surely these cars can’t afford to look like anything else?

In the Revuelto’s case, you need suffer neither - although you can’t escape the weight. Specifically, it’s the weight of no fewer than three electric motors and 3.8kWh of lithium ion battery cells, packaged though they may be in the lightest, stiffest, most carbonfibre-intensive mid-engined chassis that the company has ever designed. 

The Revuelto is about six inches longer than the Lamborghini Aventador that preceeded it, with an extra 79mm in the wheelbase. It’s an inch or two taller, too, and it weighs about 250kg more in running order, give or take. Not huge nor catastrophically heavy but definitely a stretch.

Yet the car still has a better power-to-weight ratio than any other series-production Lamborghini. That’s thanks in part to the ‘new’ L545 V12… with 6.5 litres of swept volume, a 60deg bank angle and identical cylinder bore and stroke dimensions to the old ‘L539’. Hmm.

Lamborghini technical boss Rouven Mohr actually admits that this is ostensibly the old mill with new heads and induction system and a lightened block modified in order that it could be swung through 180deg in the new car. But a higher compression ratio allows it to make 814bhp at 9250rpm and to keep on revving to 9500rpm – the kind of crank speeds that only the special-series Essenza SCV12 has hit previously.

Without a driveshaft running underneath it, of course, that engine can sit lower in the Revuelto’s new ‘monofuselage’ chassis (in which the front subframe is carbonfibre as well as the passenger cell, although the rear frame remains aluminium). 

Meanwhile, a pair of front-mounted, 147bhp axial-flux electric motors draw power from a drive battery that sits in the ‘transmission tunnel’ (the car’s actual eight-speed, twin-clutch transaxle gearbox being carried behind the engine).

And so the Revuelto’s weight distribution improves slightly to 44:56 front-to-rear (the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ had a 43:57 distribution on the scales when we weighed it in 2019).

There’s a third motor-generator integrated into the gearbox, and peak system power for the whole powertrain is 1001bhp, with an unspecified amount of peak torque.

That's enough for 0-62mph from rest in just 2.5sec, 0-124mph in 7.0sec and a top speed on the far side of 217mph.


lamboghini revuelto review 2023 07 driving

Lamborghini has made an extra inch of head room for its V12 clientele here, as well as some 80mm of extra leg room. Both make a difference, but I can tell you that neither is quite enough to make a 6ft 3in tall tester wearing a helmet entirely comfortable at the Revuelto’s wheel, at least without inclining the seatback to near sitting-in-the-bathtub angle.

So be it. Without the helmet, I’m pleased to report, I was much more comfortable – not something I ever said in an Aventador. And let’s remember that big V12 Lambos aren’t supposed to have perfect driving ergonomics. You’re supposed to feel a little bit squeezed in, as if ratchet-strapped to some obscenely ballistic, hopelessly ostentatious exclamation mark on four wheels. It comes with the territory, doesn’t it?

Lamborghini has taken a leaf out of McLaren's book and fitted cutaway sills to the Revuelto. As the dihedral door swings up and out of your way, there ends up being a bit less chassis to step over as you board.

Compared with the Aventador, there’s notably more digital touchscreen technology to take in: a central touchscreen, plus one in front of the passenger, with digital meters ready to be ‘passed’ from screen one to the other and then over to the driver’s all-digital binnacle with easy touch-and-swipe gestures. The integration of infotainment technology also extends to fully connected app-based functionality via your smartphone and fully integrated Amazon Alexa voice recognition.

Elsewhere and perhaps of more import are more switches and secondary controls plonked onto the steering-wheel boss than there used to be. I was sceptical about this in principle but, thankfully, they’re small enough that they don’t actually get in the way of your hands on the rim in practice.

Between a ‘frunk’ big enough for a couple of small cases and a storage space behind the seats into which Lamborghini says you can even fit a set of golf clubs, there’s decent cargo space, too. Eat that, Ferrari SF90 Stradale.


lamboghini revuelto review 2023 06 panning

So, this is a top-level Lamborghini supercar with a better power-to-weight ratio than the Bugatti Veyron – something to contemplate along with that £450,000 price tag. Predictably enough, it’s indecently fast in strictly objective terms – but it feels even quicker still.

Lamborghini’s press test drive was conducted exclusively at the Vallelunga autodrome near Rome in cars that couldn’t be driven elsewhere because they hadn’t been fully homologated or certified. I can only imagine what the Revuelto will feel like on the road, then – although if the disdainful way in which it seemed to furl up and spit out the circuit’s longer straights is any guide, 'utterly berserk' ought to just about cover it.

The pin-sharp, free- and fast-revving engine combines with the instantly accessible ‘torque fill’ of that electric front axle to achieve acceleration that's as dramatic as it is unremittingly vigorous. It’s ‘on’ in an instant - and then it just keeps coming.

While Lamborghini V12s have traditionally needed revs to really let loose, this one has electric back-up, so the car simply rockets away from standing and even takes off from middling revs, on part throttle and in higher gears, with an astounding sense of muscle.

There's still every reason to work that combustion engine, though – and a great deal of vivid, wonderful, effervescent V12 noise on offer when you do. 

This car’s combustion engine feels very effectively joined and teamed with the new electric portion of its powertrain – and aided and augmented by it, not in any way at odds with it, and not out-dazzled by it either. The V12 remains the dominant, unrelenting, primary lure and strength of the car, just as it should be.

For brake feel, meanwhile, the Revuelto does have a ‘blended’ pedal that combines regenerative and friction braking (where other PHEV supercars have elected for conventional braking systems), but it doesn’t suffer from mushy, ill-defined pedal progression or a sudden, crude jump between one sort of retardation and another. 

“We really focused on brake-pedal pressure, rather than travel, to define how and where we should blend in the friction brakes,” explains technical boss Mohr, “because nobody wants a sports car whose brakes don’t inspire your confidence.”

Suffice it to say, the Revuelto’s do - and, over admittedly short stints of laps, they also seemed to have the outright power and resistance to fade that you would hope for.


lamboghini revuelto review 2023 04 cornering front

For one reason and another, you tend to arrive into braking zones carrying a lot more speed in your Revuelto than you might once have in an Aventador, ready to give the car’s brakes and chassis rather a lot to do. 

But what happens next is proof of the attention-to-dynamic-detail that Lamborghini has lavished on its supercars in these past five years or so - and how much more precise, consistent, composed and controllable they are now than ever they used to be, since the company turned a corner with the likes of the Lamborghini Huracán Performante and Huracán STO, the Aventador S and Aventador Ultimae.

Because while it will certainly express itself a little more like an old-school, big-engined Lamborghini at big speeds, in quicker corners and in fast braking zones, its mid-engined mass moving around behind you just enough to remind you that it’s present, for the most part, through slower bends and in steady-state cornering, the Revuelto just handles. You point, it goes. There’s no messing and no managing unless you go looking for it; plenty of V12 song but not so much wriggling dance.

For suspension and steering hardware, Lamborghini has given up the Aventador’s pushrod inboard struts but has retained magnetorheological adaptive dampers. It has junked the much-criticised, active-ratio ‘dynamic steering’ with which the Aventador made its debut in 2011 and gone instead with a conventional fixed-ratio rack, albeit partnered with actively controlled rear-steer.

But most transformative of all is the impact of the car’s asymmetrical torque-vectoring electric front axle on its handling and the capacity of its rear motor-generator to moderate, manage and adjust engine output at source so much more smoothly than a conventional stability-control system possibly could.

The car’s various stability controllers are constantly using different systems to achieve the shared purpose of getting it into, through and out of corners as precisely and quickly as possible. Considering this is a near-1.9-tonne car in running order that can carry such monstrous speed, they do it very well indeed. 

First, the electric motors work together to delicately juggle braking pressure side-to-side and front-to-rear to better stabilise the car as you slow before turn in; because, in that respect, they can do what callipers and discs simply can’t. Then the four-wheel steering system takes the lead to shrug off so much mass and inertia and rotate the chassis on a trailing throttle as you turn for the apex, like it ain’t no thing. 

And then comes the asymmetrical torque vectoring under power. As the V12 drives the rear axle onwards on exit, so the controller for the front motors biases the electric torque to the outside front tyre, keeping the chassis’s cornering posture neutral and its line true. 

Before you know it, you’re right where you planned to be, hurling yourself into the middle distance all over again, having benefited from all of that clever stuff without ever really knowing any of it was going on at the time.

Unlike in the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, there’s no extra weight or corruption to the steering and no sense of intrusiveness in the power delivery. Instead of a fast but closely managed, slightly contrived way around a corner, the Revuelto grants you a remarkably natural- and intuitive-feeling one. It would be really eye-opening if it weren't so matter of fact.


lamboghini revuelto review 2023 01 tracking front

Lamborghini has yet to confirm the Revuelto’s lab-verified electric-only range, but its drive battery is fairly small compared with key rivals'. While it takes only half an hour to charge from a 7kW power outlet, it’s unlikely to deliver more than 10 miles of EV running.

Our track testing didn’t provide any opportunity to uncover what kind of fuel economy the car might do in its range-extended Hybrid driving mode - as little Revuelto owners are surely likely to care.

In electric running, the car is primarily powered by its front wheels, although the rear motor can chip on for four-wheel-drive zero-emissions capability when needed.

The car has a 68-litre fuel tank capacity, which is about 20% down on that of the Aventador that preceded it but still ought to be enough for a useful real-world touring range.


lamboghini revuelto review 2023 24 detail

Lamborghini’s track-only press launch for the Revuelto wasn’t the most instructive way to form a first impression of a car that will mostly be driven on the road and didn’t allow time to fully scrutinise the fine detail of its secondary controls. For that, we await the arrival of the car on UK roads. But we do it with plenty of anticipation for a supercar that clearly has the heroic character and extravagant combustive drama to equal any of its predecessors.

The Revuelto has the ever-accessible pace to burn that you might expect of it but also a clear and abiding sense of dynamic finesse about the way it handles, which might just come as a surprise. It handles simply and precisely, with striking accuracy and composure near the limit of grip; and with an intuitive, natural feel that belies your expectations of a complex electrified supercar. It can be dynamically expressive and a little idiosyncratic in its handling, too; but it’s the thoroughness of the integration of the car’s active steering, braking and torque-vectoring systems that impresses most about it. Together, they plainly achieve a great deal without ever making you aware that they’re really working at all, which is quite the conjuring trick.

Quite what the handling will feel like to those who risk deactivating its super-clever, torque-vectored stability control system - something that Lamborghini expressly forbade testers on its launch event from doing - still remains to be seen. Will it be as absorbing to drive just beyond the limit of grip as it is working its way up to it? How will it ride on the road? And how accessible and relevant will its huge speed and its clever chassis systems be in daily driving?

We will see. A V12 engine as special as this one certainly feels like a wonderful place for any supercar to start - and we’re delighted that the 'big Lambo’ can still call on one. 

Moreover, if the same attentive, effective tuning and execution that the car clearly demonstrates in so many facets of its driving experience can be found more widely throughout its on-road motive character, the Revuelto could be, every inch and for every mile, the car that Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann has cracked it up to be: “our greatest achievement since the Countach.” It’s a bold claim - but it might yet prove a justified one.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.