Lamborghini calls it the Murcielago.
After a weekend behind the wheel of one, we call it a $273,000, two-seat taxi.
It may do zero to 60 m.p.h. in the blink of an eye (just over 3 seconds) thanks to its 6.2-liter, 575-horsepower, 48-valve V-12 engine, but considering there’s nowhere for a $273,000 Italian sculpture on wheels to hide after a 3-second jaunt to 60, we mostly took several trips at close to the speed limit.
OK, maybe one or two ventures onto the open road in the wee hours were less close to the speed limit, but most of the time we chauffeured admirers up and down the block while Mom and Dad ran for the camera.
Murcielago’s claim to fame, other than being named for a Spanish bull, is that it takes the title of world’s fastest production car with a top speed of more than 205 m.p.h.
That title had been held by the Lamborghini Diablo that Murcielago replaced for ’02. Diablo was able to reach only 200 m.p.h., but it was the first production road car to hit that.
Since the speedometer was in kilo-meters and our hamlet’s police chief frowns on those who violate posted orders, we’ll take Lamborghini’s word for Murcielago’s prowess.
Only about 140 will be imported to the U.S. in the next year, about the number of people able to lift the scissor-type doors, take a very deep breath and slip behind the wheel into the snug, form-fitting cabin.
Before turning the key, an adventure in itself, you must examine all the buttons. There are those that turn traction control on/off; power the mirrors against the body so they aren’t clipped in a carwash (as if you would take a $273,000 work of art through an assembly-line bath); raise the air intakes from the rear quarter flanks to cool the engine; and raise the front a few more inches off the pavement to avoid scraping the undercarriage if you attempt to motor up an incline.
Considering the low-slung Murcielago that rests on wide-profile 18-inch radials sits, at best guess, about half inch off the ground, you’ll want to master the button that raises the front end.
As for the ignition key, to prevent midnight shoppers from tooling away with your $273,000 prize, the ignition and fuel flow are disarmed when the key is removed from the ignition for a minute or more. To start again, you must first push a button on the key fob to rearm those systems.
The V-12 propels the Murcielago like a bolt of lightning, appropriate because the V-12 sounds much like that bolt as well. Roar, not purr.
The price of quickness is comfort. This is a no-pain, no-gain exotic that requires some sacrifice. Center console buttons let you adjust the suspension from soft to firm, though after a jaunt in soft, we suspect continuing in firm would require a mouthpiece. We also suspect the suspension is the reason no cupholder is offered.
While the suspension is stiff, the 6-speed gated manual is surprisingly smooth.
Good points: Carbon body with steel roof and doors; full-time all-wheel-drive, a necessity for a vehicle capable of speeds in excess of 200 m.p.h.; being the only one on the block with one, unless your neighbors are professional athletes, members of a rock band, talk-show hosts or ranking Republicans; and being able to say, “Be there in a second” without exaggerating.
Bad points: Getting in/out of the scissor-type doors without bruising the melon; getting in/out of the slender bucket seats without bruising whatever; watching the fuel gauge for the 26-gallon tank move faster than most American cars (9 m.p.g. city/13 m.p.g. highway or about 5 m.p.g. less city and highway than the Ford Expedition sport-utility vehicle pictured on the environmentalists’ wanted poster).
Lamborghini boasts that an exotic sports car with scissor-type doors capable of raising its front end off the ground, raising its air intakes to cool the engine and raising its rear sp iler to keep the tail planted at high speed is “free of superfluous ornamentation.” Translation: no cupholder.
As noted, the Murcielago starts at $273,000, which includes a $7,700 gas-guzzler tax. Add freight at $1,300. And you’ll have to pay a luxury tax of 3 percent of the transaction price that exceeds $40,000, or $6,990.
Only options are metallic paint at $2,500 and a navigation system at $3,750, though it’s hard to believe anyone with $273,000 to spend does not know where he or she is going.