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Lamborghini Sesto Elemento (2010): the all-carbonfibre concept car

Thu, 30 Sep 2010

Finally, after much teasing, here it is, Lamborghini’s carbonfibre concept car – the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. Unveiled on the eve of the 2010 Paris motor show at the Volkswagen Group’s massive pre-show party, it’s a sub-1000kg supercar with a 562bhp V10, and previews the future lightweight construction methods that Lambo will use on its next V12 supercar and other future models.

Sesto Elemento is Italian for sixth element, which is carbon. And much of the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is constructed from carbonfibre, helping to keep the kerbweight under 1000kg. The Sesto Elemento weighs just 999kg – incredible for a car that features four-wheel drive and a 5.2-litre V10.

The basis of the Sesto Elemento is a carbonfibre monocoque, with CFRP crash structures and body panels – the latter are visible through a clear-coat paint with nano technology-added red crystals providing a shimmer effect. The suspension components, the wheels and brakes are also made from carbon, the propshaft is CFRP, and the tailpipes are constructed from Pyrosic, a glass and ceramic composite that can withstand 900-deg. The rear subframe and rear axle suspension points are aluminium.

Combine that low, low weight with the 562bhp 5.2-litre V10 from the Gallardo Superleggera, plus that car’s four-wheel drive system, and you get a Veyron-beating 563bhp/tonne and 2.5sec 0-62mph time. The added benefit of weighing 340kg less than a Gallardo Superleggera is an improvement in fuel consumption and CO2 figures too, but more excitingly, the Sesto Elemento will stop and steer better as well.

'The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento shows how the future of the super sports car can look – extreme lightweight engineering, combined with extreme performance results in extreme driving fun. We put all of our technological competence into one stunning form to create the Sesto Elemento,' said Lamborghini president and CEO Stephan Winkelmann. 'Systematic lightweight engineering is crucial for future super sports cars: for the most dynamic performance, as well as for low emissions. We will apply this technological advantage right across our model range. Every future Lamborghini will be touched by the spirit of the Sesto Elemento.'

Let’s start with the back of the Sesto Elemento, and if you look closely you can see that the Pyrosic exhausts exits through the rear deck, right behind the supports for the big wing. The huge rear deck also incorporates two air scoops and ten hexagonal openings, all of which help feed fresh air to the direct-injection 5.2-litre V10. At the front cooling air is also fed to the brakes and nose-mounted radiator, and then exits via vents in the bonnet and just ahead of the front wheels. The front and rear bodyshells are each manufactured in a single piece, and the rest of the Sesto Elemento is a riot of sharp creases.

Very minimalist, and the whole interior is very much influenced by the shape of the carbon tub. The tub actually forms the basis for the seats (there’s no conventional frame) with the cushions fixed directly to the carbon monocoques – reach and rake adjustable steering, plus an electrically adjustable pedal box, make sure you can get comfortable. There’s no interior trim either, just lots of bare and functional CFRP, while the carbon dash is pockmarked with triangular holes to cut the weight; there are just three buttons on the centre console, to start the engine, select reverse and turn on the lights. 

Obviously not all of the technologies on this concept will make production, but the next V12 supercar will have a carbonfibre tub (and the Murcielago already has CFRP panels) so the Sesto Elemento does preview the lightweight future of Lamborghini.

By Ben Pulman