2013 lamborghini estoque
The 2013 Lamborghini Estoque could be the company's first production 4-door sedan. The concept is shown here.

Consumer Guide's Impressions of the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque

What's this? A Lambo sedan? Yup, a high-power, high-fashion concept suggests the Italian sports car legend might follow Porsche to Four-Door Land. But the Estoque is still years away, and its path to showrooms could be a dead end.

What We Know About the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque

Alarming financial news cast a pall over the October 2008 Paris Auto Show, but storied Italian sports car maker Lamborghini provided a feel-good respite by unveiling a stunning concept sedan. Yes, a sedan, only the third 4-door design in the company's 40-year history. Named Estoque (say "es-toe-kay") for a sword used in bull fighting, it's as sexy as any Lambo ever built. It also looks showroom-ready. Jaws dropped and tongues began wagging when Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann told assembled reporters that the concept is a fully operational prototype that could go into production.

Could, mind you. For several reasons, the Estoque is not yet approved, and some reports say it won't be. And even if it is, Winkelmann says that Lamborghini would need at least four years to put it on the road, which suggests a 2012 arrival at the absolute earliest. But if it does go ahead, the Estoque is projected to more than double Lamborghini sales, to around 4,000-5,000 per year. That compares with a record 2,405 deliveries in 2007, divided between slinky V10 Gallardo and burly V12 Murcielago coupes and spider convertibles. Lamborghini is in the black, and the Estoque signals that it intends to remain there, recession or not. As Winkelmann told trade weekly Automotive News Europe, "If it's a feasible dream but an economic disaster, we cannot propose it."

Improved sales are also the motivation for Porsche's 2010 Panamera. The first production 4-door from that hallowed brand is one possible roadblock for the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque. That's because Lamborghini is owned by Audi, which is part of the whale-size Volkswagen Group that could also take a significant stake in minnow-size Porsche. The betting is that if Porsche joins the family, it would try to block development of Lamborghini's obvious in-house rival for the Panamera. Indeed, executives at both Porsche and VW were reportedly "less than pleased" with the Estoque, partly because they were told about it only a couple of weeks before the Paris premiere.

The 2013 Lamborghini Estoque faces other potholes on the road to showrooms. First, this is hardly a good time for another high-power bling machine that's expected to cost at least $200K. It's not just the turbulent global economy. It's tightening fuel-economy standards in the vital U.S. market and a scheduled 2012 CO2 emissions cap in Europe. VW/Audi must meet these new limits, so every car it sells must help, including the relative handful of Lamborghinis.

Second, cost considerations suggest the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque would need to share a platform and many components with other models in the vast VW/Audi empire. The concept, despite its fully finished nature, was built without regard to this not-so-small matter. Lamborghini is said to be studying various options, but is still far from a final plan.

Several sources believe the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque will end up being based on the lightweight aluminum architecture from parent Audi's next-generation A8 premium large sedan, which is due in Europe during 2010 and expected in the U.S. as a 2011 model. There's also talk of Estoque using a unique "blended" platform combining aluminum and carbon-fiber elements. The goal in either case is to minimize weight and thus maximize acceleration, fuel economy, and emissions performance for what will be a pretty big car.

The same considerations will dictate powertrain choices. In theory, the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque could be designed to use any and all suitable engines in the Audi arsenal. That could mean a 4.2-liter gasoline V8, a twin-turbo version of same, and even V6 and/or V10 turbodiesels. VW/Audi is also working up a gas/electric hybrid powertrain, and however implausible that might sound for a Lamborghini, it is another option according to Maurizio Reggiani, the company's director of Research and Development Technology.

Purists, of course, would prefer that a Lamborghini powerplant at least be available. That's doubtless why the concept carried a 5.2-liter Gallardo V10, although situated in front rather than ahead of the rear wheels. Some believe the Estoque will launch with an engine identical to or very much like this, mated to a rear-mounted 6-speed automated manual transmission with steering-wheel shift paddles. The production car will almost certainly follow the concept by having standard all-wheel drive. Despite the added weight versus rear-wheel drive, Reggiani told AutoWeek magazine that the Estoque will be "lighter than anything else [all-wheel drive] out there"--which tends to confirm rumors of exotic structural materials.

As for the rest of it, the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque should retain the concept's wedgy, low-roof, coupe-style silhouette, Gallardo-like nose and tail, and cozy, leather-lined four-passenger cockpit. The styling might be tweaked a bit, but it's hard to see how it could seem stale even four years from now. Some think a rear bench seat will be available for nominal five-passenger capacity.

A sedan it may be, but the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque should have all the technical hallmarks expected of this brand. That means all-independent double-wishbone suspension, big 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, an Audi-sourced antiskid and traction-control system, and a full complement of airbags. Materials, fit and finish, and features will be first class to match the lofty price and, as on other current Lambos, will be a far cry from pre-Audi days. Though specifics are still far from decided, the goodies list would likely show 20- and/or 21-inch wheels with high-speed tires, a voice-controlled disc-drive navigation system with music storage and wireless-device connections, and a version of Audi's Drive Select system that allows tailoring suspension, steering, and throttle responses through several driver-selected modes.

All very promising and exciting. But there's one last problem with the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque: How to build it. With Lamborghini's existing facilities already stretched and the cost of expansion likely prohibitive, it's looking like outside contractors will supply sets of modules for final assembly at the company's home plant in Sant'Agata, near Bologna. Can you say logistical challenges?

Lamborghini obviously has its work cut out for it to make the Estoque a reality, so maybe that long time frame isn't such a bad thing. After all, the world economy should be recovering four years from now and thus better able to embrace another high-power, high-price Italian supercar.

2013 lamborghini estoque
Lamborghini's 2013 Estoque could get power from a 5.2-liter V10. The concept is pictured here.

A Notable Feature of the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque

It's too early to tell whether the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque will have any headline innovations, but look for it to incorporate a good deal of Audi technology, even if it's not acknowledged as such. The rumored engines mentioned above would be prime parental donations. The idea of a diesel-powered Lamborghini may seem weird, but "oil-burner" engines will be essential for Europe, where diesels account for about 50 percent of all cars sold, even in the high-lux league. We doubt Americans would get a diesel Estoque, if only for image reasons, but you never can tell. Things can change a lot in four years. The rumored hybrid powertrain would be a much better status symbol in our land and thus more probable.

Technical aspects aside, the Estoque--assuming it's actually built--will make history simply as Lamborghini's first production 4-door sedan. The only other Lambo sold with more than two doors was, believe it or not, a sport-utility vehicle. The military-inspired LM002 that was offered for a few years in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Buying Advice for the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque

Like other exotic brands such as Ferrari, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini appeals for unique styling, rarity, and snob appeal, plus vaunted Italian high-performance brio. Buyers in this class aren't much concerned with value, practicality, reliability, or durability, though we now tend to take those attributes for granted in even the most plebeian cars.

Of possibly greater interest to would-be Estoque buyers are the aforementioned 2010 Porsche Panamera and the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide. All are megabuck low-production coupe-styled sedans in the mold of the popular Mercedes-Benz CLS, which in top-line form is another alternative. Already with us is the Maserati Quattroporte, which costs a good deal less than the Estoque is expected to. And let's not forget the high-style Audi A7 that's also on the way for 2011 with rumored hardtop and drop-top models. It all makes for quite a candy store, and a real treat for those who can afford to shop there.

2013 Lamborghini Estoque Release Date: As noted, Lamborghini statements suggest that the Estoque won't be ready until 2012 at the earliest, but we suspect various interim developments will delay the actual debut until calendar 2013, probably in the second half. Of course, this assumes that the car actually enters production.

2013 Lamborghini Estoque First Test Drive: Journalists might get a very early preview in 2012--probably just a "static" introduction with no seat-time--but actual driving in final production models likely won't be available until 2013.

2013 Lamborghini Estoque Prices: Various press reports indicate the 2013 Lamborghini Estoque will start at around $200,000, or roughly the same as the top-line 2008 Gallardo coupe, the LP560-4. But that's presumably in today's dollars; so we'd look for a minimum closer to a quarter-million by the time sales begin.

Updated by Don Sikora II 06.30.2009

2013 lamborghini estoque
The 2013 Lamborghini Estoque could compete with the Porsche Panamera, among others. The concept is shown here.

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