Fam­ily car for a gangsta

Sub­ur­ban So­pra­nos might like this, writes MICHAEL TAY­LOR

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News - Go to cars­guide.com.au for more im­ages of the Es­toque.

THERE is noth­ing nice about the Lam­borgh­ini Es­toque. It is long, low and very very nasty — right down to the 5.3-litre V10 en­gine taken from the Gal­lardo su­per­car and set into the nose of the new Ital­ian four-seater.

This is a gangsta car, pure and sim­ple, but one with the po­ten­tial to more than dou­ble sales for Lam­borgh­ini.

It is be­ing shown to­day at the Paris Mo­tor Show to test its po­ten­tial for pro­duc­tion and to re­vive a four­door his­tory that has had noth­ing new since the Es­pada con­cept car of the e a r l y 1980s and the V12-pow­ered LM002 — an Ital­ian Hum­mer — of the same pe­riod.

Lam­borgh­ini pres­i­dent Stephan Win­kle­mann says the 375kW Es­toque is an op­er­a­tional pro­to­type, not just a con­cept car, and could give Lam­borgh­ini 2000 to 3000 sales a year if it goes into pro­duc­tion by 2012.

The price for the low-slung new­comer, which has a three-me­tre wheel­base, will prob­a­bly be in the $350,000-plus range.

It will share its per­for­mance phi­los­o­phy with the Mur­cielago and Gal­lardo road rock­ets but will be aimed at the same cus­tomers who will soon be con­sid­er­ing the new Porsche Panam­era and forth­com­ing As­ton Martin Rapide as sports car com­pa­nies look for growth with four-door cars aimed at older buy­ers.

Win­kle­mann is bullish about plans for the Es­toque.

‘‘Five years ago, we had one model sell­ing 250 cars a year. Last year we sold 2405 cars with the twom­odel strat­egy, but if we want to go to the next level, the next log­i­cal step is to in­tro­duce a com­plete, new third-model line,’’ he says.

‘‘We looked at the mar­ket and we think we miss a limou­sine that is el­e­gant and sporty.’’

The Es­toque is still a con­cept and has not been wel­comed by other arms of the Volk­swa­gen Group. But Win­kle­mann says the Es­toque marks new ground for Lam­borgh­ini in more ways than just its two ex­tra doors. It could be the first Lam­borgh­ini de­signed for daily use and the first with a range of en­gines, which could even in­clude an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly diesel or hy­brid.

‘‘With our ex­ist­ing cars, there is day-by-day us­abil­ity, but they are not used ev­ery day. Most are used for less than 5000km a year.

‘‘This car is some­thing dif­fer­ent. It’s for everyday use.’’

Nev­er­the­less, Lam­borgh­ini in­sists it will be as fast as peo­ple ex­pect from the brand. Its top speed could be any­thing from 250km/h to be­yond 300km/h.

The Es­toque was de­signed at Lam­borgh­ini Cen­tro Stile at San­tA­gata, Italy. De­spite the fam­i­lyfriendly po­ten­tial, it will be a hard­edged per­for­mance car.

‘‘Our cur­rent cus­tomers never have the Mur­cielago as their first car. We are try­ing to fill that gap,’’ Win­kle­mann says.

‘‘It will be for male buy­ers mainly — peo­ple with a deep knowl­edge of the au­to­mo­tive busi­ness will want this car.’’

Nasty: the Lam­borgh­ini Es­toque could have a range of en­gine op­tions.

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