Calling a peak in any market or trend can be a fool’s errand, but in the Lamborghini Centenario, I feel confident in saying that if we’re not at peak supercar, we’re darn close to it.
Sold out upon its introduction at the Geneva Motor Show, the Centenario isn’t so much a car as an exclusive club for 40 people with $1.9 million to spend on an entry fee, similar to the Veneno of a few years ago. That money buys them an all-carbon fiber supercar with 760 hp, the ability to rocket to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and the ultimate bragging rights at any valet stand.
And the bragging rights matter as much, if not more, than the details of the Centenario’s engineering. Lamborghini made the car more than just a special Aventador SV, with a new four-wheel steering system, higher-revving V-12 powering all four wheels and bespoke touchscreen interior. The bodywork takes a few steps away from the Aventador, especially in the rear, where the diffusers look like an agricultural implement turned evil. In theory, the Centenario should be the fastest vehicle ever built by Sant’Agata, with a top speed in excess of 220 mph.
But most Centenarios, which will be split evenly between coupes and convertibles, will never approach such speeds. The price and rarity means the special Lambo carries too much risk to put on a racetrack or even an empty tarmac for a top-speed dash. Among this, the custom McLarens, Koenigsegg, the $1 million Aston Martins and a baker’s dozen of start-up supercar builders, you’re left wondering just how many such machines the world can absorb before there’s simply no more billionaires to sell to.
And for all of its engineering qualifications, the rare Lamborghini lacks many of the software innovations prevalent in everyday vehicles, let alone the self-driving tricks filtering through more common luxury cars. (It does sport Apple CarPlay, just like your new Accord.) Those kind of features are far harder for a small builder to pull off, even one like Lamborghini that’s backed by the Volkswagen conglomerate. Instead, the Centenario plays by the same strategy Lamborghini has followed since the Countach arrived four decades ago: a raucous V-12 with a radical exterior design, although there are far fewer places to push such a car to its limits. Maybe there’s more electric-powered, higher-tech performance yet to be had in the supercar world—but as wild as the Centenario looks, it seems as much from the past as it does the future, and that’s one way to define a peak.