If you’re looking for subtle, you came to the wrong place. Lamborghini’s Veneno was revealed to a stunned world in the build-up to the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, with its public unveiling taking place on the opening day of the famous international event. Coming in the midst of a clutch of other high-profile hypercar launches from the likes of Ferrari and McLaren, it was up against serious competition. The wraps came off the LaFerrari and P1. The former looked like a Ferrari and was red. So far so expected, though the name was a bit strange. The McLaren was organic and visceral, rounded and certainly individual.
But then came the Veneno. It evoked a very different reaction. I could imagine people weeping and fleeing in terror. In comparison to the others, the Veneno looked like an interstellar warship. It deserves an epithet like great warriors of old. Veneno The Destroyer perhaps. Not everyone might like the Veneno, but by god you have to respect it. You wouldn’t dare do otherwise…
If you’re looking for trouble, on the other hand, then the Veneno is very much the right place. It oozes hyperbole from every one of its high-tech, straight-edge surfaces. The numbers are suitably impressive of course, if not absolutely record-breaking. This could only ever be a wolf in sabre-toothed tiger clothing. Power comes from a sonorous 6.5-litre V12 unit nestling amidships: that makes for 750hp and takes the Veneno to 100kph in 2.8 seconds, going on to what could be best described as a moderately excessive 355kph.
But the Veneno is aimed squarely at giving the experience of driving a fabulously fast racing car to an exclusive group of owners. That’s the direction, the driving experience rather than outright speed, so everything is geared towards almost Le Mans Prototype levels of technology.
There’s a fast-shift seven-speed ISR transmission with seven selectable driving modes, connecting to the permanent all-wheel drive system. The carbon-fibre outer ring around the wheel rims works like a turbine to deliver additional cooling to the carbon-ceramic brake discs, and F1-style pushrod suspension and horizontally-mounted inboard springs and dampers help keep the Veneno glued to the track. And the track is where you would hope drivers would unleash the full fury of the Veneno. What road could contain this beast?
The carbon fibre monocoque that protects the cockpit and provides phenomenal stiffness is complemented by a complete set of carbon panels. The aerodynamics of the Veneno have been refined to the nth degree to provide optimum downforce with minimum drag
The shape of the body is brutal and uncompromising. The arrow nose and razor-sharp edges countenance no softness, allow no weakness to show. Airflow is channelled through the nose and the front fenders stand apart from the body, connected only by aerofoil-style dividers – the entire front-end acts as an aero device, again like an LMP.
The rear is so seemingly over the top that it can leave you breathless. The diffuser is as big as a house. The rear wing looks like it’s been taken straight from a B2 Stealth Bomber, and a stabilising fin runs down the spine of the Veneno.
The Veneno looks like the result of a whole load of Latinate mission creep. I can just imagine the over-excitement in meetings that allowed this insane car to be built. I would have loved to have been there. It’s a car that summons extreme reactions, for it is an extreme car. Even the name is provocative. Lamborghini make no secret of the fact that the Veneno bull is most famous for fatally wounding a renowned matador back in 1914. That Veneno was fast, strong and aggressive. This one is no different.
You could say that it really doesn’t matter what the critics – or you and I, for that matter – think. Only three production Venenos have been made, and they were predictably all sold well before the project was even revealed to us mere mortals. Not only that, but you couldn’t even choose the colour. Next to the metallic grey prototype with patriotic combined green, white and red accents, the customer cars had green, white or red accents. It made me wonder if somebody fearsomely rich bought all three, just to have the complete set. Three cars, a cool three million Euros apiece.
So it was almost a surprise that Lamborghini went so big with the announcement of the Veneno. But that’s the thing: there are new kids on the block now. Bugatti, Pagani, Koenigsegg and more fight on an almost monthly basis for the title of the most hyped hypercar. It’s not like the old days where Lamborghini could unleash a new extreme Countach or Diablo or whatever, sit back and lap up the headlines. The hypercar bar has been raised to stratospheric levels. If you want to be even noticed, let alone have people spend a dismissive second and a “Pah, it’s only got a 750 horsepower, unlike the Paganigseggron” before moving on, then you have to do something pretty serious. And the Veneno is deadly serious. But it soon had competition.Competition? What competition?
Oh, actually, it’s also a Lamborghini. And it’s also a Veneno.
So you could argue that the exclusive had got slightly less so, but then the Veneno Roadster is more than a continuation of the original coupé – as ever, it’s more than a case of simply lopping the roof off.
Nine weaponised Roadsters will be made, which perhaps gives an indication of the number of people who realised they should have put their name down for the trio of coupés after all…
Despite Lamborgini taking a bit of the car away, the price has gone up by another 300,000 Euros. After all, less roof means more roll-over protection and reinforced doors, and carbon fibre doesn’t come cheap in Sant’agata Bolognese. Lamborghini also chose to reinforce the mil-spec by launching the Roadster variant on an aircraft carrier. Better than launching off, for sure…
The underlying platform is the same, with the headline numbers basically unchanged except for a tenth being dropped on the 0-100kph sprint. There’s always a price to pay for the chance to sample the wind in your hair at 220mph.
Although of course the windshield and deflectors are specially positioned to ensure that your head isn’t actually blown clean off. Though the sound of the V12 that close to your ears might still do the trick.
Like the coupé, the cockpit continues the carbon theme, using the CarbonSkin material pioneered in the Aventador J. The base weight of the Roadster is also only nominally affected: it comes in at 1,490kg, just 40kg more than the coupé.
This time there’s also the opportunity to choose a colour, perhaps to match your Veneno coupé. So three becomes twelve: a fire team of Venenos becomes a reinforced squad. I’m not sure if that means the world is a safer place or more dangerous…