Lifestyle Motoring

Lamborghini’s Head of Design Mitja Borkert on Lamborghini at 60 and the New Revuelto

Lamborghini 60th Anniversary

As Lamborghini celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2023, so it finds itself at a crossroads. The glory days of pure internal combustion recede in the rear-view mirror, its first full electric vehicle is due by 2029 at the latest, and the new Revuelto supercar launches this year, bridging the chasm between two very different worlds. During a 60th get-together at Silverstone, Oracle Time recently met with Lamborghini design boss Mitja Borkert to ask how 60 years of history feed into this striking new design.

The Revuelto is old school Lamborghini with a sustainable twist. Like its Aventador predecessor, the newcomer is the halo on a three-car range and places a 6.5-litre V12 engine behind the passenger compartment. Once again it sends drive to all four wheels, seats only two, and suggests you pack lightly for that long weekend away. The twist is a new plug-in hybrid system that includes a small lithium-ion battery, a single electric motor at the back, and two more to individually drive each front wheel.

Lamborghini Revuelto Sketch

Lamborghini Revuelto

Lamborghini Revuelto

Power is the biggest draw. It’s boosted to 1,001bhp – over 20% more than the most potent Aventador – and the 0-62mph dash is dusted in 2.5 seconds, yet this carbon fibre supercar can drive for short periods on nothing but electricity alone, officially cutting CO2 emissions by 30% versus an Aventador.

Borkert’s task is to ‘package’ all this hardware, not just creating enough space for it but to fulfil cooling and aerodynamic requirements. It can’t overheat, it has to stay firmly in touch with the ground at its 219mph-plus top speed… tricky stuff with so much performance. Creating extra space for two passengers was another must – Revuelto passengers enjoy 26mm more headroom and 84mm more legroom than an Aventador.

Mitja Borkert

Mitja Borkert sketching the Revuelto

White, middle-aged, male, well educated… Borkert is in many ways the stereotypical Western car designer, but his background is less conventional. “I was born in East Germany in 1974, which today seems 100 years ago,” he grins. “I was since a little baby interested in cars but I didn’t have access to Western magazines, and when my brother got me Hungarian car magazines, I created my own car catalogues by cutting them out. But honestly about Lamborghini I didn’t know so much. My love for the brand was manifested more around the early 2000s – the Reventon, Sesto Elemento and Estoque (concept cars).”

Borkert graduated from a design course at the University of Pforzheim in the late 1990s and was working at sister brand Porsche when he was approached for the Lamborghini top job in 2016. He quickly began “sketching, Photoshopping, getting all my ideas together” as well as re-familiarizing himself with Lamborghini’s back catalogue. There was a lot to take in.

Lamborghini 350GT

Lamborghini 350GT

When industrialist and entrepreneur Ferruccio Lamborghini founded his eponymous company in 1963, he set out his stall with the 350GT – a luxurious front-engined, two-plus-two seater that today seems more redolent of Maseratis and Aston Martins than Lamborghinis.

The 1966 Miura led the way to the modern ‘super sports car’ era with a mid-engined V12 layout long before Ferrari made the switch from front engines, but it was Marcello Gandini’s Countach that set the design template. Initially a minimalist wedge on its launch in 1974, later covered in wings and bulges during its 1980s pomp, the Countach still informs Borkert’s work to this day (in fact, he recently created a modern homage based on the Aventador that Lamborghini offered in extremely limited numbers). He grabs a sketch book to demonstrate.

Lamborghini Countach

Lamborghini Countach

“The starting point of Lamborghini is our design DNA, and the design DNA is like a very tasteful Italian pasta of two ingredients. The first is the Lamborghini silhouette,” he says, sketching a line that arcs flat and low like a stone skimmed perfectly over water. “When I joined Lamborghini in 2016, my son was two years old, I was working and he came to my desk and said ‘papa Lamborghini’”. This is the point, it should be easy for everyone to immediately understand.

“Then in the front and rear view, we have always this inclined side window and a very flat greenhouse [the glass area], and these massive shoulders – almost looking like a spaceship from the rear.”

This, however, is simply the starting point, the next step is to identify each car’s purpose. Borkert expands: “Is it a track car that needs wings to generate aerodynamic downforce, or do we want to make an elegant, very puristic car like a Countach? The Revuelto is somewhere in between because it is integrating all the aerodynamics.” (ie the spoilers deploy when needed).

Lamborghini Revuelto

Lamborghini Revuelto

Other familiar Lamborghini touchpoints that recur in the Revuelto include scissor doors, side windows that dip low like a plunging neckline and flat surfacing clearly modelled on stealth fighter jets. Inspiration from the Diablo and Murcielago – the post-Countach V12 bloodline – also goes into the melting pot. The Y-shaped graphic that recurs throughout makes for a key differentiator. “We were developing this kind of floating hood and I like motorcycles, so I took inspiration with these headlights that are kind of hidden in a hole,” says the 49-year-old.

The Y graphic repeats for the taillights, alloy wheels and interior, but perhaps most striking is the huge Y-shaped air intake behind each door, which creates a boundary line between interior and engine. It provides the Revuelto with – in Borkert’s words – a “maximum mid-engined look”, as all the volume at the back tapers to an arrowy tip ahead of the driver.

Revealing Revuelto to the crowd at Silverstone is the end of a journey that began way back in 2016 and took in an incredible 17 third-scale models – the most in Lamborghini history, but necessary so that Borkert “could look in the mirror and know we were assessing every idea – this project is so, so important”. Sold out until well into 2025, the Revuelto seems to have gone down well. What comes next is arguably the bigger challenge.’

Lamborghini Terzo MIllennio

Lamborghini Terzo MIllennio Concept Car

Lamborghini’s design language is inseparable from the exotic mechanical ingredients it shrouds like a superhero cap, so how does its design boss prepare for an electric era when such components are surplus to requirements?

“It would be a disaster to jeopardise our DNA whatever engine or powertrain is inside,” comes the assured answer. “Today of course we have a big engine and big exhaust system and in future they won’t exist, but maybe I can use these spaces for the battery, or for smart aerodynamics. We have this gift of a design that looks like a spaceship silhouette, it’s crucial to keep that, but I can play with the silhouette and create so many different characters for cars. We have ideas for the next 50 years for sure.”

The Terzo Millennio electric supercar concept gives a taste of how that might play out, but the zero-emissions era represents a huge leap for Lamborghini, never mind the East German kid who grew up cutting out cars from magazines.

More details at Lamborghini.

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About the author

Ben Barry

Ben Barry A motoring journalist for over two decades, Ben has worked as a scriptwriter for Channel 4’s Driven, as deputy editor on CAR Magazine and has spent the past ten years as a freelancer. Still a regular for CAR, he’s also contributed to The Sunday Times, Octane and National Geographic.