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Lamborghini is reinventing itself with the Revuelto plug-in hybrid

The auto industry in a time of transition centered around electrification and connectivity. Even Lamborghini, long the wild child of the auto industry, has to take these trends into consideration. But Lamborghini always does things its own way.

The Lamborghini Revuelto is the replacement for the Aventador supercar, and the latest in a long line of V12-engined dream machines that includes the legendary Miura, Countach, Diablo, and Murciélago. But the Revuelto is a plug-in hybrid — Lamborghini’s first — and includes more tech than ever, marking a big step for the brand in the same direction the rest of the industry is taking.

The Revuelto carries on the Lamborghini tradition of stunning supercars, but under the skin, it’s more than just a collection of tech buzzwords, Lamborghini CTO Rouven Mohr emphasized in an interview during the car’s North American debut in New York City. From the design of the plug-in hybrid powertrain to the hidden aerodynamic elements in the Revuelto’s Instagram-worthy styling, Mohr explained how engineers are preserving the essence of Lamborghini in this high-tech age.

The Lamborghini Revuelto plug-in hybrid supercar.

Fashionably late

Lamborghini was a trendsetter with the Miura and Countach, but this time it’s fashionably late to the party. Plug-in hybrid supercars arrived in a big way roughly a decade ago when the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918 Spyder all appeared virtually simultaneously. McLaren recently returned to plug-in hybrid technology with its Artura, while the all-electric Rimac Nevera and Pininfarina Battista have completely abandoned combustion engines.

Lamborghini isn’t ready to go all-electric, but after dabbling in electrification with the Sián FKP-37 and Countach LPI 800-4 hybrids, company brass did feel the time was right for a plug-in hybrid. Three electric motors — one powering each front wheel, and a third attached to the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission — enable limited electric driving, with energy stored in a 3.8-kilowatt-hour battery pack. It’s all in keeping with the times.

“The social environment has changed,” Mohr said, noting stricter emissions regulations and the persistent concern that European customers will eventually need some form of electric mode to access city centers. Technological improvements, such as more energy-dense batteries, as well as Lamborghini’s schedule for replacing models also made this the right time to launch a plug-in hybrid, Mohr added.

It keeps the sound that makes Lamborghinis as dramatic to hear as they are to look at.

“We make the right steps for the right moment when we change the car,” he said. “Five years ago it would not be right, because in the meantime we have not only [improvements to] the battery technology, but also the control strategy. We had time to learn.”

The heart of the powertrain is a 6.5-liter V12 — only the third V12 in Lamborghini’s history. While the first Lamborghini V12 lasted decades, the second had a relatively short lifespan, only powering the Aventador, which was unveiled in 2011 and ended production in 2022. A new design was needed to meet stricter emissions rules, as well as the packaging requirements of the plug-in hybrid powertrain, Mohr said, while also giving engineers an opportunity to improve performance.

And improve it they did. By itself, the engine makes 813 hp — up from 769 hp in the final version of the Aventador. Add in the electric motors, and you get 1,001 horsepower, enough to launch the Revuelto from zero to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds, and on a top speed of more than 218 mph, according to Lamborghini. Because Lamborghini kept its classic V12, instead of switching to a smaller engine aided by a turbocharger or supercharger, as some other car builders have done, the Revuelto preserves the sound that makes Lamborghinis as dramatic to hear as they are to look at.

The Lamborghini Revuelto supercar's engine.

Perfect blend

Engine noise isn’t the only thing Lamborghini’s engineers tried to preserve. While rivals have focused more closely on lap times and specifications, Lamborghini has sought to stir emotion with a more visceral driving experience. That will continue with the Revuelto.

“Performance is the baseline,” Mohr said, “but it’s not enough for us. Lamborghini is also Lamborghini because we are always looking for this ‘wow’ effect.”

Adding a plug-in hybrid system risks diluting that effect by adding a technological layer between driver and car. Like most modern performance cars, the Revuelto is incredibly complex. It can use its front motors for torque vectoring, directing more power to one front wheel or the other as needed, use regenerative braking to decelerate while recharging its battery pack, and deploy a host of software-based systems to adjust the proportions of electric and gasoline power, as well as the thickness of the electronic safety blanket for drivers of different skill levels — with 13 possible combinations. The goal was to make all of this blend together.

“The miracle is the car doesn’t feel like a hybrid,” Mohr said, in part because the electric motors are mainly assisting the combustion engine. While Lamborghini does provide an EV mode for creeping around city centers, whenever the V12 fires up, the motors are mainly used to support it by filling in gaps in its torque curve.

The Lamborghini Revuelto's side air intakes.

Form and function

In addition to sounding and driving like a Lamborghini, the Revuelto had to look the part. With its alien-looking headlights set deep in blackened sockets (similar to the 2017 Terzo Millenio concept), exposed engine, and thruster-like exhaust, it certainly does. The Revuelto looks like a middle schooler’s supercar doodle come to life, but there’s some cool engineering behind the styling.

As we walk around the car, Mohr proudly shows off the little details that make the Revuelto work. A large front splitter juts out of the pointed nose. Working with a larger rear diffuser and movable rear wing, it helps generate downforce, which pushes the tires into the pavement to generate more traction — something you definitely want when handling 1,001 hp.

Moving along the side of the car, Mohr points out how air is directed through the front wheel wells, helping to cool the brakes while preventing air from building up and affecting the aerodynamic balance, without any visible louvers. Just aft of the doors, a zigzag shape houses two air ducts: one for pulling cool air into the engine compartment, and another for catching hot air coming off the front brakes. This allows the hot air to flow around the sides of the car, reducing aerodynamic drag, without getting ingested into the engine compartment. Engines don’t like hot air.

The Revuelto looks like a middle schooler’s supercar doodle come to life.

Making the Revuelto a plug-in hybrid also meant fitting more components into a similar footprint to the non-hybrid Aventador. The Revuelto isn’t a small car (it’s about as wide as a Chevy Suburban), but clever packaging decisions like placing the battery pack in the central tunnel between the seats, and mounting the transmission sideways behind the engine, means there are no obvious tells that this is a plug-in hybrid.

Carbon fiber is obligatory for a supercar, but Lamborghini took this opportunity to up its game by using three different forms of carbon construction. The backbone of the chassis is made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) made with a new production process that allows each component to serve multiple functions. Other elements are made from Lamborghini-developed Forged Composite, in which short carbon strands are soaked in resin and cured under pressure in a heated mold. Autoclave baking, which produces the shiny material you see on cars with exposed carbon-fiber bodywork, was used for the roof and some other parts where aesthetics were important.

This allowed for lighter carbon front end and crash structures, replacing the aluminum elements used in the Aventador (the rear structure is still aluminum). Overall, the Revuelto chassis is 10% lighter than the Aventador’s, according to Lamborghini, but that’s offset by the added weight of the plug-in hybrid system. At 3,906 pounds without fluids, the Revuelto weighs approximately 490 pounds more than the final version of the Aventador.

Interior of the Lamborghini Revuelto.

More tech, fewer distractions

Supercars aren’t known for elaborate infotainment systems; the emphasis is supposed to be on driving, after all. But Lamborghini’s customers demanded more elaborate infotainment tech, Mohr said, so the Revuelto gets an 8.4-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, a 12.8-inch digital instrument cluster for the driver, and a 9.1-inch touchscreen for the passenger. Amazon Alexa compatibility is built in, and the driver and passenger can even swipe information from one screen to another.

Looking at a screen, let alone swiping, might be difficult while getting thrown around in your seat as the Revuelto does what it was designed to do, but the driver should at least be relatively free of distractions. For serious driving, the information on the instrument cluster display can be pared back to just speed and gear readouts. The layout of the various displays was also track-tested, just like any other aspect of the car.

“With our pro drivers, we spent a lot of test sessions on the handling track,” Mohr said. “It’s not by chance, there’s really a lot of work behind it to have the best solution for every driving condition.”

Rear three quarter view of the Lamborghini Revuelto supercar.

What’s next?

The Revuelto is likely destined for a long life. High-end brands like Lamborghini generally move at a slower pace than the rest of the auto industry, where models are usually redesigned every four years or so. The Aventador had a shelf life of roughly a decade and some of the models that came before it lasted even longer. But with so much talk about EVs and planned bans on sales of new gasoline cars in places like California and Europe, it’s hard to avoid asking when Lamborghini will launch an all-electric supercar.

“There will come a time when the performance will be so much better than a combustion car that the young people are not interested anymore in the old world,” Mohr said, describing what he believes will be the true death knell for cars like the Revuelto. Cars with combustion engines may stick around by using synthetic fuels like those being developed by Lamborghini sibling brand Porsche, Mohr added. But if customers no longer care about the howl of a V12, there will be no point in keeping them around.

Cars like the Revuelto will be among the last to go all-electric.

All-electric powertrains will come to Lamborghini in the near future but in less-hardcore models like the Urus SUV and Lamborghini’s planned fourth model, which is expected to be more luxury-oriented than the Revuelto and its smaller sibling, the Huracán. Those models will be the last to go all-electric.

“This hybridization, with even some upgrade options regarding battery technology or battery sizes, is the best choice,” Mohr said. “The last cars to go full electric will be the super sports cars.”

Until then, the Revuelto shows that embracing new tech isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Lamborghini is doing it on its own terms.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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