(Pocket-lint) - Two weeks before the Paris Motor Show began, Lamborghini sent us a teaser silhouette of its new concept car. Underneath it was written: "How do you improve on perfection? Double it."
For reasons that right now seem unclear, we - along with the rest of the motoring world - took this to mean that a new, four-seat Lamborghini was coming to Paris. Instead, what we got was this - the Asterion concept - very much a two-seater car. So what's Lamborghini up to, and just how much can we read into what is - for now - still very much a concept vehicle?
It turns out that the "double it" bit Lamborghini was referring to was motors and, to some extent, power output. Because the Asterion is a hybrid that features a large battery pack, and an electric traction motor on the front axel - which combined with the rear-mounted V10 petrol engine mean it kicks out a total of 910bhp
The dizzy power figures and the hybrid powertrain setup of the Asterion were to be expected. Given that LaFerrari, Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 are all hybrids and all produce total horsepower figures in the 800-1000bhp range, Lamborghini was lagging behind. Its flagship Aventador's 700bhp suddenly looked a bit anaemic. And the company's never been one to lurk in the shadows. So consider the Asterion to be it striking back at the competition. And a fairly strong hint that, somewhere in the future, Lambo is also going to offer a hybrid powertrain for that appealing combination of produced silly power, but also be capable of running emissions-free and on pure EV-power for short distances.
As for the style and the format, the Asterion is a bit of a departure too. As other brand's concepts at the Paris show borrow what was once Lamborghini's unique faceted design language and edgy surfacing (cough, Peugeot), the Asterion takes the Italian company in a different direction. It's one that harks back to cars like the Miura of the 60s and the Urraco of the 70s. Check out the Urraco in particular, and it's hard not to draw comparisons.
This is a softer, less shocking design than we've seen from the company recently - it's less mad, it looks less low and wide. But it's still likeable, and the detail execution is impressive up-close. Check the flashes of Lamborghini's unique forged carbon fibre that is used for the tub, but peeks out on the exterior and interior. Or the crystal glass backing to the Lamborghini script, and the raging bull badge which is now highlighted in gold.
You also get that clear polycarbonate rear engine cover - which features hexagon shaped cut-outs - through which to view the fabulous 5.2-litre V10. And that's before you spot the little Italian flags dotted around, or the intricacy of the wheel design. It's a design that really comes to life the more time you spend with it.
Then open the door - not Lamborghini's signature scissor door, but nonetheless one that opens up and out - and you're greeted with a delicious mix of retro cues and modern tech.
There's the forged carbon again, contrasting with tan leather and brushed metal. But you still get the modern bits - like the flick-up red cover for the starter button, a tablet-like centre screen and the fully digital gauge display (shared with the Huracan), which features a super-complex, fighter-jet style display, or a vast crescent arc rev counter, which brings with it a banana yellow background.
Question is, will Lamborghini build the Asterion? For now, the company is staying mute. And we've been here before. Lamborghini's got a long history of radical concept cars that didn't make the cut for production - not least the retro Miura concept of 2006, which the company said it would build and then later decided not to.
Chances are though, that while we don't expect to see the Asterion appear in this form on the street, we might still be treated to an all-new Lamborghini before long. And we'd expect it feature hybrid running gear that's very similar to what's previewed here, in order to allow the company to sock it to Ferrari, McLaren et al. Expect Lamborghini, in its usual way, to make sure that its performance figures and power output are just that little bit better than Ferrari can manage. The style may be changing, but in attitude, Lamborghini's still the same old raging bull.