It’s not the best or most powerful engine. In fact, Lamborghini’s 5.2-liter V10 ranks low on the most powerful totem Lamborghini, not with monsters like the Sian FKP37 and Sian Roadster thrown into the mix. Both Sians feature the more luxurious and smoother naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V12 paired with a 48-volt electric motor. With that, the FKP37 and the roadster both boast a combined 800 horsepower, which is really really doozy.
But the V10 is a special mill with a special place in the hearts of automakers and gearheads. For one thing, it’s rare, even rarer than the V12, and often comes in “orphan” versions. That is, generally unrelated to any mill before or in the present, even among other V10s. We remember people thinking the Audi R8 shared Lamborghini’s V10 engine, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The Lamborghini 5.0-liter and 5.2-liter V10 are 90° V10 gasoline engines developed by Lamborghini for the Lamborghini Gallardo in 2003. It was the first engine developed by Lamborghini after the brand was placed under Audi AG as part of the Volkswagen. Band.
Lamborghini and Audi V10 engines: identical but not identical mechanics
Many people thought that the engine block of the original Lamborghini 5.0-liter V10 was closely based on the gasoline-powered Audi 4.2 FSI V8 found in Audi’s luxury lineup. This was not the case. Audi then issued an official statement clarifying that its 5.2 FSI V10 engine powering the Audi S6 and Audi S8 is not related to that of Lamborghini. This was evident in the 3.54-inch cylinder bore spacing of the Audi 5.2-liter V10 compared to Lamborghini’s 5.0-liter V10 with a cylinder bore spacing of 3.46 inches between the centers.
Notably, Audi’s 4.2 FSI V8 features the same cylinder bore measurement as the 5.2. Plus, the four-valve-per-cylinder layout was classic Italian (think Lamborghini), compared to the five-valve-per-cylinder layout favored by German brands, including Audi and VW road cars. The waters might seem a bit muddled since both are members of the VW family of brands, but their unique identities have never been lost on them.
However, automakers later admitted that the 5.2-liter Lamborghini V10 variant was indeed mechanically identical to Audi’s 5.2-liter V10, which explains the shared fuel stratified injection and spacing 90mm cylinders. Even so, Lamborghini’s 5.2-liter V10 is special. Its origin can be traced, not to Audi, but to two Lamborghini concept cars, namely; the P140 from 1988 and the Cala from 1995, equipped with 3.9 liter engines.
However, Lamborghini revived the project in the early 2000s and increased the engine displacement. This time the crankcase and the cylinder block are built at Audi Hungaria Zrt. factory in Győr, Hungary, with final assembly being carried out at the brand’s Sant’Agata Bolognese factory in Italy. The engine has a 90° V-angle and, unusually for a production engine, a dry sump lubrication system is used to keep the engine’s center of gravity low.
Here’s what’s special about Lamborghini’s 5.2-liter V10 engine
For starters, the soundtrack coming from the engine is an important part of the supercar experience. And that’s where the turbos and small engines don’t compare to the symphony of a naturally aspirated V10 like the Lamborghini’s 5.2-liter. With automakers rolling out electrified powertrains and quad-turbocharged V12 mills, purists can hardly find a replacement for a V10’s smooth exhausts and resulting clear, raw soundtrack.
V10s also tend to deliver higher revs since their intakes aren’t throttled like turbos during turbo lag. We’re not trying to hit turbos or bigger engines, we’re just explaining what’s special about the V10. What else? Throaty V12s aren’t returning to F1 anytime soon, which means the V10 was all we had when it came to the screech, rumble and growl emanating from the exhaust pipes. Unfortunately, the V10 will never be honored by F1 either.
Then there’s no technical reason why a V10 and V12 of similar capacity can’t produce similar horsepower and torque. The advantage of the V10 in this equation is that it is generally lighter than a V12, although there is little to no potential weight difference if the capabilities are the same.
We don’t deny that a V12 is inherently better balanced (no balance shaft needed) than a V10. It can also be argued that the V10 is more fuel efficient at the same power level as a V12, although this may not be the case if the V10 has a balance shaft to smooth out vibration. Plus, we dig into how Lambo’s V10 is the better option when a V8 wouldn’t suffice in terms of power output, and the V12 is too big, more expensive, or way more complex.
In fact, you could argue that the more moving parts of the V12 pose a greater reliability risk. The V10 is obviously two cylinders shorter, which improves compactness, and it doesn’t suffer from the pumping and friction losses of the V12 (depending on size and type). Again, Lamborghini’s 5.2-litre V10 engine offers excellent balance, thanks to its 90° configuration, whereas V10s typically have an optimal V-angle of 72° compared to the V12’s 60°.
We can tell you that most automakers choose the V10 in part for its motorsport pedigree. Take the F1 heyday of the 60s and 70s. Formula 1 cars were smaller, faster and – oh yes, louder. It was also the reason why the F1 scenes of the 60s were full of violent accidents, both memorable and heartbreaking at the same time. What type of engine was primarily used by these smaller, faster and louder F1 cars just mentioned? The 3-liter V10, of course.
It peaked with BMW’s introduction of its version of the V10 in 2003, with 900 horsepower and a scorched earth (we hear every word) 19,200 rpm. Yes, we are talking about the BMW P83 90° V10 F1 engine. It was developed over two years, with an engine speed limited to 19,000 rpm. Interestingly, Lamborghini launched the original Gallardo the same year, rocking a 5.0-liter V10.
The second-generation Gallardo arrived in 2008 with an odd-fired 5.2-liter V10 mated to either a Graziano 6-speed manual or a Graziano 6-speed automated manual transmission. Ultimately, Lambo’s V10 may not be an exemplary daily driver, but delivers a top speed of 200 mph for less than $200,000. Only a V10 can deliver such a smooth combo.