The Radical Lamborghini Sedan From the Paris Auto Show
The Estoque is officially described as a concept, but it's already under serious consideration for production according to well-placed sources at the company's headquarters in Sant'Agata Bolognese.
The Estoque neatly extends Lamborghini's flamboyant design language and emotional appeal to a highly fancied third model line. Naturally it offers a level of interior accommodation and practicality well beyond that of the midengine Lamborghini Gallardo and Murciélago, yet its dynamic qualities promise to set lofty standards of excellence comparable to the firm's sports cars.
Four Doors, Yet Uncompromising
Some may be shocked to find a Lamborghini with its engine placed in front of the driver, never mind with four seats and a trunk out back to stow luggage. However, there is precedence here in the form of the fondly remembered Espada, which was produced between 1968 and 1978. It is the spirit of that car that the incumbent Lamborghini management has clearly set out to rekindle with the Estoque, albeit with one vital difference, because this practical four-door sedan layout should see it appeal to a much wider customer base than the Espada ever achieved.
With a record 2,406 sales during 2007, Lamborghini is ultra keen to keep the sales momentum gained in recent years on the boil.
Building the Brand
It's a lengthy 154.7 inches overall and measures a similarly wide 78.4 inches, but it's also very low at 53.2 inches. The four-door aluminum body is peppered with typically flamboyant Lambo styling cues as well as a raft of new design details that should start finding their way onto new Lamborghini models in the not-too-distant future.
It's a car with real presence thanks to a look of great strength, an impression reinforced by a wedge-shape front end and tautly drawn surfacing. The car's rear haunches are far from subtle and enclose towering 23-inch wheels with 295/30ZR23 Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires. Even so, it is unmistakably a Lamborghini, despite the fact that it has four conventional front-hinged doors.
But you shouldn't think of the Lamborghini Estoque as simply a design exercise. Every facet of its exterior has been developed with production feasibility in mind, right down to its ability to pass the tough European pedestrian safety laws. The new car is based around a sturdy but lightweight aluminum space frame that draws heavily on the construction technology developed by parent company Audi for the A8 sedan.
A Sport Sedan, Only Italian
At the heart of the new car is the Italian carmaker's mighty 5.2-liter V10 engine. In a departure from all other existing Lamborghini models, the 90-degree unit is mounted longitudinally in the front underneath a long hood.
To provide the best possible weight distribution, most of the engine nestles behind the line of the front axle, reducing the polar moment of inertia. Lamborghini makes no power claims about the engine, although the very same V10 in the Gallardo LP560 kicks out 560 horsepower at a soaring 8,000 rpm, with 398 pound-feet of torque available at 6,500 rpm. Drive is channeled to all four wheels via a six-speed, single-clutch automated manual transmission with Lamborghini's e-gear shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
All this is sufficient, one could surmise, to provide the Estoque with acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in the region of 4.5 seconds and a top speed on the high side of 190 mph.
Lamborghini actually intimates that the production version of the Estoque would appear with somewhat more practical engine choices, including a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 and possibly even a 4.2-liter V8 diesel. It also suggests the new car even could be offered with a hybrid drivetrain, presumably drawing on the lithium-ion battery technology being developed by Audi for use by the next-generation A8.
Not in Stores by Christmas
The Lamborghini executives we spoke to, prior to the Estoque's unveiling at the Paris auto show on the night of October 15, hinted at a possible price around $230,000, with annual production of up to 2,000 examples — a figure that would effectively double the company's volume in one fell swoop. Just where it would be built remains up in the air. But now that the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera have broken the mold of what's expected from sports car manufacturers, the Lamborghini Estoque can be sure of scores of orders following its debut in the French capital.