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Jay Leno's Column: The Collector

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First of all, let me say I am a huge Lamborghini enthusiast who owns two Miuras, a Countach and an Espada

First of all, let me say I am a huge Lamborghini enthusiast who owns two Miuras, a Countach and an Espada. So when the LA Auto Show came around I was keen to see the new Reventon – the Lamborghini that looks like a stealth fighter on wheels.

On arriving at the Lamborghini stand I was ushered past the velvet rope and asked, ‘Would you like to sit in the car?’ That would be nice, thank you. The man on the stand then suggested ‘Look at this’ and turned on a confusing display similar to a video game.

Then he said, ‘How would you like to cruise down Rodeo Drive in this?’ And I thought, why would I want to cruise down Rodeo Drive at 5mph when I’d much rather be blasting up the Pacific Coast Highway? You would have thought someone would have at least suggested taking it out on a track, or to an abandoned airfield: cruising down Rodeo Drive with a video game display and a paddle shift transmission is not my idea of driving fun. But this isn’t why I’m unconvinced by the new Lamborghini. I don’t like the fact it is ridiculously expensive and offers very little that’s new for a supercar.

Compared with its base car, the Murciélago, the Reventon is not more efficient, it’s not lighter, it doesn’t have appreciably more horsepower. It’s a styling exercise at double the price. Say what you want about the Bugatti Veyron, but it does raise the supercar bar a lot higher. There’s amazing new technology, unproven technology, and it has the highest horsepower of any production car ever. Oh sure, it might be a little heavy but at least it raises the bar.

I think of Lamborghini and its parent company Audi as engineering outfits, which is another reason I am disappointed with the Reventon. It has a little more horsepower and, admittedly, a very good-looking body, but is it really worth double the price? I would rather have twice as ugly for half the price...Seriously, I’d have much preferred to see a version of the Murciélago with half the weight, rear-wheel drive only, a lot more aluminium, a lot more magnesium and other lightweight materials. In other words, something that would have moved the supercar cause forward a bit.

Take the Caparo, for example. OK, it’s flawed, but there are brilliant ideas at work. Whether you like it or not, it can do everything a Veyron or a Murciélago can do, and for less money. It also looks more like the future, which to me means less weight and greater fuel efficiency. The Reventon does none of this. Back at the show and I’m still struggling with the confusing video display. I can probably blame this on my age, but my aversion to paddle shifters might just be personal preference. Everyone I talk to who owns a supercar with a paddle shifter raves about how the technology stems from F1. At this point I ask how much fun it is to use in traffic. ‘Well, it’s not as much fun as a stick, but this is what the race car drivers use!’ It’s like trying to be convinced somebody is good-looking because they’re the sibling of a supermodel.

The Reventon is a good-looking car, but when you’re excitedly waiting for the next leap forward this Lamborghini disappoints. It’s just a good-looking suit on the same body… at double the price. I would never buy one.

I think it’s for someone who wants to have the only one on the block. Compare the Reventon to a more mainstream car, which can be spec’d up: you could order the Ford Mustang with the big engine and the six-speed gearbox and the rear end ratio you want. Or you could order the GT package which essentially has all these options, plus stripes and fancy badging. At least you are getting some extra technology for your money.

The final reason the new car is bad news is history. To me, a Lamborghini has always been better value than a Ferrari. You always got a little bit more horsepower for just a little bit less money and that was key. If you buy the Gallardo you get a V10 with 520bhp. If you buy the F430 it’s a few thousand pounds more with a V8 and a little less horsepower. Lamborghini has always managed to be popular because, as dumb as it seems in this price range, it’s perceived as being a better-value car: more horsepower, more cylinders, four-wheel drive and all for less money.

The Reventon goes against decades of Lamborghini sales. All I can say is, for over a million bucks she had better be able to cook me breakfast in the morning too!


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