Lamborghini to prioritise unexpected specials over retro cars

3 months, 3 weeks ago - 28 January 2022, autocar
Lamborghini Sterrato spy photo
Lamborghini Sterrato spy photo
CEO hints at 'something special' in the supercar segment as testing of an off-road Huracán commences

Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann has hinted that the firm will launch an off-road-oriented version of the Huracán after an unusual prototype was spotted testing last week.

Asked if the test mule is being used to develop a road-going version of 2019's Sterrato concept, Winkelmann told Autocar: "It's a bit early to talk about it, but be surprised. Lamborghini is always unexpected. We have to play out of the normal field, and I think we have a great opportunity to do something special in the super-sports car business which hasn't been seen so far."

His comments suggest a production-specification Sterrato – which would be essentially unrivalled as a high-riding, off-road-ready supercar – is one of the four new products that Lamborghini has confirmed for launch during 2022. 

Asked if 'unexpected' cars such as this are more interesting for him than retro-inspired creations like the Countach LPI 800-4, Winkelmann said: "For sure. Retro cars are good from time to time. I think the Countach was a great thing. But our brand has to look forward. We have to have a big windscreen and small rear-view mirrors.

"It's important to understand the history, to look into what happened in the past, but the projection has to be that we have to be innovative; we have to be disruptive and always unexpected.

Winkelmann's indifference to heritage-inspired one-offs and limited editions is well documented. At the unveiling of the Countach last year, shortly after beginning his second term at the helm of Lamborghini, he told Autocar: “I left the company with the idea that we were never going to make a retro car, never ever. So I came back and said ‘why are we doing this now?’ But when we looked at the car and talked about it, I was happy to do it.

The Sterrato (Italian for ‘dirt road’) was first revealed in concept form in 2019 as a more rugged version of the Lamborghini Huracán Evo. At the time, a Lamborghini spokesman said that despite at least one functioning car having been built, there were no plans to put the model into production. However, one-off cars and concepts aren't traditionally subjected to winter testing, suggesting that such a car could be headed to dealerships. 

Visually, the Sterrato has a far higher ground clearance than the Huracán. It has been fitted with an air intake on the roof, as well as a set of roof rails. The front bumper has also been reinforced with a stone guard, while an LED light bar is fitted to the bonnet. It doesn't yet feature the concept's extended wheel arches, which Lamborghini previously hinted could be 3D-printed were the car to enter production.

The Sterrato concept was powered by the same 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 as the Huracán Evo, producing 631bhp and sending power to both axles via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. It's expected that a customer version of the Sterrato would retain the Huracán's rear-wheel-steering set-up but gain an adapted version of the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI) driving-mode system that's more effective at finding grip on low-traction surfaces.

 Lamborghini isn't the only firm experimenting with off-road versions of its sports cars. Porsche has been spotted testing a high-riding 'Safari' version of the 911 and Morgan has committed to building eight Plus Four CX-Ts.

It's currently unclear if the Sterrato will be a one-off project, like the Aventador J and SC20 roadster, or built in greater numbers as a limited-run series, similar to the Sián FKP 37. 

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