2023 Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4
Flogging a dead horse? Ah, but what a dead horse: the thoroughbred Aventador is jolted back to life as a Countach tribute.
V12 thrills, retrochills, massive bills
We drive Lambo’s ridiculousand amazing Countach tribute -Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4: Sián hybrid tech in a retro-styled Aventador
What the heck. Let’s go for it. Can this car really reach 125mph in eight seconds flat? Hit 62mph in a timewarp 2.8sec? Exert enough stopping power to send your eyeballs out on stalks? Open the g-force floodgates and flush the brain from one side of the skull to the other?
Yes, it can. It asks the driver to commit, and rewards that commitment with a fantastically thrilling experience.
And just look at it. The limited-edition Countach LPI 800-4, based on the discontinued Aventador, is not one of Sant’Agata Bolognese’s more over-the-top specials, but pays neat homage to Marcello Gandini’s bedroom-poster favourite.
The comeback Countach’s appearance is all about stylishly understated sex appeal. Understated? Well, yes, in a supercar context it is significantly lower-key than some alternatives, and the neat design work by Mitja Borkert and his team disguises just how big it is: even wider than Lambo’s Urus SUV, and 440mm longer than an Audi R8. All 112 have been sold. What the buyers get for their €2.4m is a 6.5-litre V12 engine, with a 48-volt electrical system to power an electric motor. Together, the petrol and electric power units give a maximum of 803bhp and 531lb ft. They drive all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission.
So it’s essentially an Aventador, with the Sián’s supercapacitor-based mild-hybrid boost. The Countach bit – the echoes of the car first unveiled at the Geneva show in 1971 – comes in the visual details: the flush rectangular headlamps, hexagonal windscreen, louvred side glass, periscope-inspired roof-mounted air intake and those wheelarches. Borkert has created a striking yet beautifully balanced sports car which is neither overtly retro nor as eccentric as the Sián and Essenza. The swan-wing doors, the roofline and the massive lateral air intakes all shout Aventador, with a dash of Murcielago and Diablo.
Are we ready to lift the red metal flap and unleash the devil inside? At the first roundabout, still in second gear, we turn left, heading for the hills toward Pavullo, Ferrari test driver heartland. Although the road out west is bumpy, the Lambo wastes no time playing Pac-Man with the flock of Stilos, Puntos, Bravos and Cinquecentos. With 769bhp on tap from the V12 alone, and 34 spare electric horses waiting in the wings, 30mph feels like barely moving at all, 60mph is hardly worth one more upshift, 80mph creates a bit of a breeze at last, but it takes a foray into triple-figure territory to summon the driver’s full attention.
Despite its elaborate carbonfibre chassis and that tourbillon-complex 12-cylinder engine, the LPI 800-4 feels decidedly more high-mech than high-tech. For a start, it does not ride well at all on its double- wishbone pushrod suspension with not particularly forgiving adaptive magnaride dampers. Although the front axle is fitted with a quicklift feature – the car’s 40mm lower than the Huracan Spyder – the low-flying nose keeps bottoming out. Some more user-friendly settings would have been welcome.
At 12.5 metres, the turning circle is not excessively wide, but the cab-forward driving position and that inherent inkling of light initial understeer soften to a degree the explosive handling demonstrated to perfection by the Huracan Tecnica. The Countach LPI 800-4 is much harder work. Dialling in and unwinding lock can be an arm-twisting business, bracing yourself for ruts, bumps and potholes siphons attention and energy, the fat A-posts keep interfering with your field of vision through second and third-gear corners, and the visibility from the B-posts backwards is practically zero, although the reversing camera does help to contain major embarrassments.
The seats, dashboard and door panels are trimmed in supple red and black leather with contrasting white stitching – nice. Less appealing are the plasticky rocker switches. The fat-rimmed steering wheel is complemented by the world’s longest shift paddles.
There are some vaguely modern features, like air-con and a basic infotainment system framed by ancient Audi switchgear. And don’t even mention the scant 63 litres of luggage space A naturally-aspirated 6.5-litre engine is certainly not what the eco doctor ordered.
Forget for a moment the fig-leaf hybrid nonsense. What matters here is the brutal, tuneful delivery of all that power and torque. The multi-vocal tune of the airflow over, under and through the car changes constantly in sync with speed, temperature and aero needs. Valves, chains and camshafts, the vast intake manifolds, the quad-pipe exhaust – they all combine into a glorious racket of intense grunting and growling, screaming and shouting.
When parked, it’s an easy nine out of 10. When it’s moving, make that 11. At full speed, it transcends normal ideas of what a car looks and sounds like. It could easily pass as a taxiing jet, a two-seat hovercraft, an alien object preparing for take-off… Judged purely in 2022 supercar terms, the LPI 800-4 never truly excels on winding B-roads peppered with hairpins, recurrent surface imperfections and camber changes, because of its size and its flawed ride quality.
Grip and traction are available in abundance, and the brakes reel it in with reassuring repeatability, but it’s most at home on very fast A-roads or anywhere it can use its second-to-none 125-to-220mph urge, ground-effect roadholding, and full-on feedback all the way to the limit. Be prepared, though, for occasional brusque cornering antics, high-speed tramlining, susceptibility to crosswinds, even mild liftoff aftershocks.
To get the best out of this Lamborghini, find a wide open road and treat yourself to the car’s many talents while keeping an eye on its few shortcomings. Or look for a catwalk-quality boulevard and enjoy watching others marvel at this rare piece of street furniture from behind an ice-cold champagne cocktail.
Highly emotional and visually striking, but the rebooted Countach is too pricey, violable and unwieldy to make sense ★★★★★
TECHNICAL DATA 2023 Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4
- PRICE €2.4m
- POWERTRAIN 6498cc 48v V12 plus e-motor, seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
- MAX POWER 803bhp @ 8500rpm,
- MAX TORQUE 531lb ft @ 6750rpm,
- PERFORMANCE ACCELERATION 2.8sec 0-62mph,
- MAX SPEED 221mph
- ON SALE Now (all 112 sold)
- WEIGHT 1595kg (dry)
- EFFICIENCY 14.5mpg, 440g/km CO2
Badge says Countach, but interior is neither retro nor up to date.Low, wide and waiting for a rare chance to unleash that 803bhp.You’d never mistake it for the original, but the visual echoes are neatly executed.
Judged purely in 2022 supercar terms, it never truly excels on winding B-roads, because of its size and ride quality
Design chief Mitja Borkert has created a striking yet beautifully balanced sports car
THE FIRST HOUR
- 1 minute Tricky for a big chap to get in…
- 2 minutes … but good shoulder, leg and head room when you’re in situ
- 3 minutes Fire it up, and that’s quite some noise
- 13 minutes Scrub that: when you floor it, that’s some noise
- 51 minutes Piston icon lights up to show half the cylinders are deactivated during sauntering
- 58 minutes The redline’s at 8700rpm, but it will rev on to 8900rpm when you’re on one
PLUS Great not-to-o-retro looks; nat-asp V12 rides again
MINUS Expensive; dated; impractical; hard work at times