- The next Lamborghini Aventador will have a V-12 in the form of a naturally aspirated, hybrid-assisted engine.
- With Bentley moving toward an all-EV future, it looks like this will be the last remaining 12-cylinder in the Volkswagen Group.
- The next-gen Aventador is expected out next year.
As supercar makers are downsizing capacities and shedding cylinders from their combustion engines, one is determined to buck the trend. Lamborghini is planning to continue to offer a V-12 engine in the replacement for the Aventador—one that will use hybrid assistance but won’t be turbocharged.
According to Lamborghini’s long-serving chief technical officer, Maurizio Reggiani, both the engine’s layout and natural aspiration are critical to the character of the car.
“The V-12 has been part of the story of Lamborghini since the very beginning,” he told Car and Driver when we drove the Huracán STO prototype earlier this month. “It has been present in every year of our history, which is why our strategy and our vision for the future is to continue to have a V-12 coupled with a hybrid motor.”
Reggiani has already dropped hints about this future direction, with Lamborghini having already combined V-12 and electric with the supercapacitor-fitted Sian. But next year’s Aventador replacement now seems certain to continue the Italian brand’s trademark powertrain layout for another generation. And while he is happy to extol the virtues of the V-12, he insists that the decision to stick with natural aspiration is equally important to preserving the car’s character.
“I remember when I started working in Modena, the people I learned from told me that naturally aspirated engines are how you prove engineering is good,” he said, “because nothing helps you. You must be able to suck as much air as possible and then, based only on this, put more fuel inside the combustion chamber to generate power. If you have a machine to push air, it becomes more a question of the structure of the engine and how much boost it can take. With a big enough turbo, you can produce almost any output.”
In addition to the advantages of throttle response—something Lamborghini’s sports cars remain exemplars of—Reggiani says that natural aspiration remains critical for the searing soundtrack Lamborghini buyers expect. “When you have a turbo you have a damper on the sound, like a muffler,” he explained. “It is filtered by the turbo, and you end up trying to use artificial sound to reproduce what should be spontaneous and natural.”
While electrical assistance is largely required to meet increasingly stringent CO2 targets and will bring additional mass, Reggiani also says it will bring other benefits. “You can add performance, but you can also fill in the weaknesses of the naturally aspirated engine, especially where torque is weak,” he explains.
The use of an electrically powered front axle also removes the requirement to run a propeller shaft down the center of the car, with Reggiani hinting the Aventador replacement will use a similar system to the Ferrari SF90. “If you have the possibility to use an electric front axle with torque vectoring left and right, you can do something truly exceptional in terms of helping the driver for traction and handling . . . it is like a collaboration between powertrain and chassis development, making a car that can stay exactly on a radius without any form of correction. This is like a dream for engineering.”
With Bentley’s confirmation that it will soon be dropping its W-12 engine ahead of an entirely electric future, Lamborghini is set to be the last brand within the Volkswagen Group to offer 12-cylinder power. Long may it continue.
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