Maurizio Reggiani has been involved in the creation of some of the world’s most iconic supersports cars. From leading engine development for Maserati in the 1980s, to developing the engine for the Bugatti EB 110, Reggiani then moved to Lamborghini in 1998—where he has been the lead engineer for the Murciélago, Aventador, and Huracán. He has been CTO since 2006 and has supervised Lamborghini’s design studio since 2011. At the unveiling of the Aventador SVJ, Reggiani spoke with Motor Trend.
Where do you go after Aventador SVJ? Nearly 800 horsepower, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, active aero, special tires, light weighting—what else is left?
When you make a masterpiece, you can say, “Wow,” but then you wonder how you can make the model that much better. When you see the SVJ do a 6:44.97 lap of the Nürburgring, you think, what is the next one? The dream is to do something that will surprise, to do more. If you don’t have this kind of thinking, you can never have a Lamborghini.
What other technologies are you evolving?
We are working on [active aero system] ALA 2.0 because we can improve it with feedback from the user. The important principle of having rear-wheel steering with the SVJ with active aero is that you are able to give it more agility; the rear wheel is more direct in torque transfer to the street. We have created a new brain, called LDVA, which is how a test driver thinks a driver should use the car. It works like [soccer wizard] Lionel Messi, who is able to escape the defender because his brain doesn’t need to think; he knows where he needs to go, while the defender needs time to think, and by then Messi is past him. We put a good driver in the simulator where we can test 3, 4, 5 percent torque vectoring and see the behavioral change. Or what happens if active aero is off in the front but on in the rear. And all this needs to be instinctive for the car. That is the step forward of SVJ from Performante. When you look at the YouTube video of the Nordschleife, with us side by side with the Porsche, and you see where they take advantage on the straight and where we gain in the curves, it is amazing. You can have a car with 2,000 horsepower, but it’ll be like standing on soap. You’ll just be spinning.
Will the next Lamborghini supercar have hybrid power?
Maybe we have hybrid boost for turbo-like performance. When I have a tank of energy, I want to use what is best for homologation. Once you fulfill that requirement, the additional energy can be used for performance. We have the anima selector, for Strada, Sport, and Corsa driving modes. So in Strada, we never use the energy as a boost. In Sport, we use the electric power in the rear axle with electronic torque vectoring to have more control. And in Corsa, we send the electric boost to the wheel that can best transfer the torque at any speed.
Will there ever be a time when Lamborghini doesn’t sell a car with a V-12? Can Lamborghini be Lamborghini without V-12s?
The next generation of Lamborghini, the successor to the Aventador, will be V-12 naturally aspirated. We can add a hybrid or plug-in to respect all the rules of fuel consumption and emissions.
The Urus is the first regular production Lamborghini with forced induction. Will we see more Lambos with turbos?
Urus was born with a turbo for one reason: If you want to move a car weighing 2.2 tons on every surface, even if it’s gravel or sand, you need an engine that provides huge torque at 1,500 rpm. Only a turbo can provide this. The decision of using a turbo was based on the mission of the car. Supersports cars don’t have this kind of mission. With engineering, the specification of the product decides—the best practice. Same with the transmission. The Urus has a torque converter that is more smooth for an SUV that does more city driving, and yet it’s still able to have a stiff upshift with the hammer in your back. But we wouldn’t do a torque converter in the Aventador successor.
What else can we expect from the Aventador’s replacement? Still a V-12? Still a single-clutch transmission? More carbon fiber?
Carbon fiber will be one of the most important points to compensate for the weight generated from the auxiliary energy system. We need to use it more intensively and smarter. What is important is to see what are the possible criticisms of the Aventador—the clutch is one. We can see if a double clutch is available. In Strada, maybe [shifting] could be softer. But in Corsa, when you change gears, you need to have that hammer in your back, so the clutch cannot be too soft or smooth. The goal is to be stiff.
What do you think the Aventador’s legacy will be? In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?
I think back in 2009, the only change is to put 2 cm more roof to have better ergonomics for tall people like Americans. But in looking at the evolution of the car from 2011 to 2018, the car has continued to grow and be new. The engineering allows us to [evolve] the car and put in more behavior and handling. From a design perspective, it’s still so sexy, everyone still turns and looks. This car was expected to sell 4,000 copies, and we’ve sold more than 8,000. It surprised us.
Do you see a fourth vehicle in the Lamborghini product line?
Part of the strategy of the company is to stabilize the company. We need to make one [product cycle] where the volume of Urus stays constant, rather than a peak and a drop. The big job is to make an average volume of production, to guarantee we have stability inside the company for workload and the security of our employees. Having volume go up and down is a disaster. A fourth product is part of our vision, but before we turn the key, we need to show we can continue to grow. That’s the challenge for the next year. The Urus has been a big success, and it’s sexy, but we need to ensure in two years’ time we have the same volumes in the worldwide market. We cannot be Icarus and fly too close to the sun.
So which new product areas are you eyeing?
When we did Urus, we were consistent with our history, in which the Espada was a real four-seater. If you also look at our history, we had a proper 2+2, which was the Islero.
In 2010, all the talk at Lamborghini was weight-to-power. Is that still the case?
Weight-to-power ratio is more important than ever. Every customer can perceive 10 kilograms less weight, but only a few people can perceive 10 horsepower more. So carbon fiber will be a key factor for the future. But from the customer’s point of view, you sell horsepower.
How do regulations fit in?
In a short time we must have an anti-particulate filter, and we must reduce the sound of the car—and no customer wants to accept less horsepower. In what way can we compensate to comply with the APF and better sound emissions, and yet make the car sexier than ever before? That is fundamental for the future.
How is leadership of Lamborghini different under Domenicali than it was under longtime boss Winkelmann?
Both are like brothers. I recognize their responsibility to steer the company. I have been lucky to have met them. Both have allowed me to generate these products. It’s a dream for every engineer. If there isn’t trust, there is a problem. When I can describe results to them in active suspension or active aero, you cannot touch it, but we need to spend money on it. So you need to have that trust. And it has meant this great evolution in the supersports car.
The Huracán Performante just won Best Driver’s Car. How does that make you feel?
It’s about the organization, how we can put all the performance systems together to make it work like a body, where it’s instinctive, and you don’t have to think. We have this marvelous muscle of the engine, and we’ve made it really athletic in its ability to push the ground with active aero like no other car in the world. It’s like, if you play soccer, if you could change your cleats continuously when the field is wet, or soft, or hard. And you never notice this spontaneous grip.
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