After lots of leaks and teasing online, Lamborghini has officially unveiled its hot Aventador super sports car in Geneva, the replacement for the top of the line V12 Murcielago.
The waist-high exotic is visually stunning, unsurprisingly, keeping the scissor doors that have been a signature styling cue on the brand's range-topping V-12s since the outlandish Countach. But it doesn't seem to advance the Lambo style as much as previous changes - such as the angular Countach to the rounded Diablo, or the Diablo to the pointy Murcie and its various movable air inlets that would grow as cooling required.
The front end of the $379,700 (U.S.) Aventador is a near ringer for newer Gallardos, as well as the outgoing Murcie, while the overall theme sticks pretty to the fighter-jet-inspired limited-edition Reventon supercar from 2008.
But there's familiarity about the engine; the Aventador debuts with a high-revving 12-cylinder, now screaming out 700 hp at 8,250 rpm and 509 lb-ft of torque, good for a claimed 2.9-second 0-100 km/h. Top speed is reported as 350 km/h, with the new TFT-speedometer showing up to 370 km/h. This 6.5-litre unit is the sixth-gen V-12 by Lamborghini, which execs boast is 20 per cent more fuel-efficient, despite making eight per cent more power.
Of course, that still means you're drinking an average of 17.2 litres/100 km of premium overall, according to European figures. In the city, it still outdrinks a fleet-worth of sailors, at 27.3 litres/100 km.
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Lamborghini is sticking with its clunky naming traditions with the Aventador LP 700-4. Aventador was the name of a famous fighting bull in Spain, which in 1993 won a trophy as the most courageous bull of the Spanish Corrida. The LP stands for "longitudinale posteriore," denoting its placement behind the driver in a longitudinal direction (instead of sideways). And the 700-4 denotes its horsepower count and that it still sends all that power to all four wheels, a new electronic front coupling now able to handle anywhere from 0 to 60 per cent of the power to the front wheels.
And like the Murcie before it, the Aventador also features some active aerodynamic bits, with the integrated spoiler adjusting itself up and tilting four-to-11 degrees at speed for more stability and downforce, while air intakes above the rear fenders activate at speed when more cooling is required.
Mini Rocketman concept goes back to small future
The Geneva show also saw Mini reveal a concept car that portends a smaller Mini, one that gets closer to the original Mini's dimensions, and could very well become Mini's Scion/Toyota iQ fighter.
The concept features unique 3+1 seating that involves a small seat behind the driver, along with a front seat that can be adjusted further forward of the driver.
Also unique in the Rocketman concept are funky dual-hinged doors that pivot out, and include much of the lower rocker panel as well, making entry and exit reportedly easier. A rear hatch cuts into the roof in a triangular tip above the rear seats, and a slide-out rear cargo area extends its cargo room by 35 centimetres. This is useful for when you carry four people, says BMW, though it also exposes your gear and (temporarily) your rear passengers to the elements.
Panamera Hybrid to arrive in August
Porsche will receive its second hybrid model later this year with the confirmation that the Panamera S Hybrid will arrive in Canada in late August; it will be the most fuel-efficient Porsche sold, the company says.
The Panamera Hybrid uses similar gas-electric hardware to the Cayenne S Hybrid that recently went on sale here, using a 3.0-litre supercharged V-6 that produces 333 hp on its own, then another 47 hp courtesy of the nickel-metal hydride battery. But the Panamera S Hybrid will be much lighter than the Cayenne and come in rear-wheel-drive only, versus the standard 4WD of Porsche's popular SUV. The 380-hp V-6 will be linked to the same eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission, promising an average of 6.8 litres/100 km on (usually optimistic) European tests.
A super light foot on the throttle can get you to 85 km/h on electric juice only, claims Porsche, but much more useful will be its ability to "sail" with the engine off at speeds up to 165 km/h. ("But officer, what do you mean I was stunt driving - the engine wasn't even on.")
Porsche trumpeting a new model's fuel economy? Just another sign of the cleaner, greener car culture sea change we're heading into the next few years.
Hybrid sales fall in Canada
On the other hand, just because a growing list of companies offer hybrids and electric cars, doesn't mean folks will buy them.
Sales of hybrid vehicles in Canada fell in 2010, dropping to just 1 per cent of all new-vehicle sales in this country, compared to 2.8 per cent for diesel vehicles, according to recent stats released by the Power Information Network.
The diesel number was up slightly, by 0.3 per cent, but also includes the diesel versions of full-size pickup trucks from all three Detroit-based auto makers. And the same survey found that hybrids languished on dealer lots for more than double the time of the average gas vehicle, 120 days versus 57 for a typical gas car, which make up 83 per cent of the new car market, and closer to 96.2 per cent if you lump in flexible fuel vehicles that can also run on E85 ethanol.
The lagging hybrid sales was pinned on relatively stable fuel prices for most of 2010, but you also have to look at Toyota's tough year in Canada, down 16.2 per cent on the year, in a market that increased 6.6 per cent overall. Even with various luxury car makers adding to the hybrid fray in 2010, Toyota still sells by far the most gas-electric hybrids.
And given Toyota's sales drop last year, the 0.4 per cent decrease in overall hybrid market share could be interpreted as more of a Toyota issue in the face of its lack of Canadian incentive spending and perhaps quality issues than a wider anti-hybrid sentiment.