Lamborghini R&D Chief: Get Ready for Life After the Manual Transmission

Mar 04, 2015 12:25 PM EST | Jeff Jablansky

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Lamborghini's research and development chief Maurizio Reggiani is a man who understands his brand's place in history, but isn't afraid to innovate.

There's unusual weight on his shoulder as engineering leader for the company that brought the automotive enthusiast world over a dozen sports car icons. He credited the iconic Miura as his catalyst for innovations in powertrain packaging. His curriculum vitae also includes stints at Maserati and Bugatti. He's made a career of coaxing enormous power from complex engines by adhering to traditional methods.

But Reggiani says that the writing may be on the wall for what enthusiasts see as the time-honored interplay between man and machine: the old-fashioned manual transmission.

"The manual transmission, I think, will not be back," Reggiani said in an interview at the Geneva Motor Show.

"If you want to have a manual transmission system, you must reengineer the entire gearbox," he said, detailing the challenges of retrofitting a stick-shift to a powertrain designed for a dual-clutch transmission.

While enthusiasts hold fast to the stick-shift, Reggiani argues that doing away with it might actually make his cars faster. Witness the naturally aspirated V-12 in his car for the Geneva, the Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce, which produces more horsepower than a Dodge Challenger Hellcat without the aid of forced-air induction.

As for the limited run of the rear-wheel-drive, manual-only Gallardo LP560-2, Reggini said that model is "what I call a car for fun," and not overall performance. He emphasized the need for all-wheel drive to harness his products' formidable output, and a suitable transmission to match it.

Reggiani's next challenge is to engineer out the compromises engendered by a production version of the Urus sport-utility vehicle, a project that he said is currently on hold for a variety of reasons. If and when that model hits the road, likely as the marque's first hybrid, Reggiani averred to mitigate the compromises as much as possible.

But you can bet it won't be offered with a manual transmission.

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