Carbon fiber at its finest.
In the weeks leading up to the 2010 Paris Motor Show Lamborghini released six different “teaser” photos to put every auto enthusiast on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting what was going to be unveiled by the Sant’Agata Bolognese-based automaker. Rumors of a new super-sedan and Gallardo-replacement circled, but in the end it was a concept that demonstrated Lamborghini’s dedication to the development of carbon fiber and lightweight construction – the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept. The name is derived from Carbon, as it is classified as the sixth element on the periodic table, and the main technology showcased in the concept, giving rise to the name “Sesto Elemento”, or “Sixth Element”.
As automakers look for ways to increase both performance and fuel economy while decreasing emissions, Lamborghini has taken the road towards reducing weight through the use of carbon fiber. While many companies may use carbon fiber, it still remains expensive to produce. With the new Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept, Lamborghini has shown that it is the only automaker to have mastered the complete CFRP (Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Plastics) process. The advancement in the technology, design, and production processes come from the automaker’s two research centers and partnerships with companies such as Boeing.
What makes the Sesto Elemento Concept so impressive is the widespread use of carbon fiber in places that carbon fiber components usually aren’t found. For example, the major suspension components such as the control arms are made from carbon fiber, and are 30 percent lighter than its aluminum counterparts. The wheels are also made using the lightweight and durable material. Even the propeller shaft, a component that is subjected to tremendous amounts of stress and torque, is made from CFRP. The Concept also uses a high-strength and lightweight carbon fiber monocoque cell made using Forged Composite Technology, while the front frame, exterior panels, and crash boxes are made from CFRP.
Carbon fiber wasn’t the only technology that Lamborghini used to cut weight. The exhaust is made from an advanced glass-ceramic matrix composite called Pyrosic, and is able to withstand temperatures of 900° Celsius. Even the brake discs are made of carbon-ceramic, which reduces weight and improves braking performance. The extensive use of lightweight technology results in a curb weight of only 2,202 lbs. For comparison, the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera weighs in at 2,948 lbs.
Powering the featherweight is the same V-10 engine from the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera through a permanent all-wheel drive system. Mounted “longitudinale posteriore”, the 5.2-liter V-10 produces 570 hp at 8,000 RPM and 398 lb-ft. of torque at 6,500 RPM, propelling the Sesto Elemento to 62 mph in just 2.5 seconds and to a top speed well over 186 mph. Although performance is astonishing, fuel consumption drops due to the concept’s light weight. Carbon fiber never looked so green, did it?
Although the main focus of the Sesto Elemento Concept was the widespread use of carbon fiber and lightweight materials, the new design was also a point of emphasis. The overall design is unmistakably that of Lamborghini with a wedge-shaped profile, and pure in-your-face insanity. One of the main design themes is the use of the triangles. The door handles, air outlets in the hood, and character lines all use this element to display power. The Sesto Elemento Concept also wears a unique skin of matte-shimmer clear coat, while the carbon fiber is made using Nano-technology, which adds fine crystals and create a red glow.
All design features aren’t just for looks, each serve purpose whether it be to improve aerodynamics, or redirect cool air. The two “ribs” at the front not only serve as a striking design aspect, but stiffen the component and send cool air to the radiator and brakes. The front also features a large double-lipped front spoiler to increase downforce, while wide side sills help decrease drag and redirect cool air. The rear features a large spoiler and diffuser with a center air deflector to improve downforce for high-speed cornering. Ten hexagonal openings allude to the powerful V-10 engine hidden beneath the carbon fiber skin and, along with the two air scoops behind the roof, help send cool air to the high-revving powerplant.
The interior also inherits the concept of reduced weight and technology with a minimalistic design. The seats are unlike conventional units, being joined directly to the monocoque and using optimally formed cushions and high-tech fabric. Although the seat cannot be adjusted, Lamborghini has designed the steering wheel and pedals to be electronically adjustable. The main feature remains the usage of CFRP on the floor, roof, doors, center console, and everywhere the eye can see. The center console only features three piezoelectric buttons for the lights, engine start/stop, and to reverse shifting, contributing to the minimalistic design. Engine, road speed, and essential information are displayed in a concentrated display in the gauge.
The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept shows new technology and design that will be featured in future Lamborghini models. To expand the development and production of carbon fiber materials, Lamborghini has opened a new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at the company headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, and Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) at the University of Washington.
Displacement: 5.2 liters
Number of Cylinders: V-10
Lubrication: Dry sump
Cylinder Angle: 90 degrees
Maximum Horsepower: 570 at 8,000 RPM
Maximum Torque: 398 lb-ft. at 6,500 RPM
Horsepower-per-Liter Ratio: 109.6 hp/liter
Type: Six-speed e-gear
Acceleration 0-62 mph: 2.5 seconds
Top Speed: Over 186 mph
Curb Weight: 2,202 lbs.
Power-to-Weight Ratio: 1.75 kg/hp
What is your favorite aspect of the new Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept? Leave a comment and let us know!