Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 (© Magic Car Pics/Microsoft)Click to enlarge picture

2011 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 on display at the Geneva Motor Show

Building a supercar is serious business. When introducing a new product, an automaker can't afford to stand pat — the next car must be a technological marvel that exceeds the last offering (which had to be a marvel in its own right). Lamborghini, as you may have heard, has used the Geneva Motor Show to reveal its latest bull: the 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4.

Named after a particularly fierce Spanish fighting bull, the Aventador is set to replace the Murcielago. In the world of V12 supercars, power is requisite, but the Aventador offers much more.

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"Our goal was to reestablish the leadership in the super sports car business," says Stephan Winkelman, president and CEO of Lamborghini. "Every car we had so far — and this is the sixth generation — was a benchmark in the time the cars were sold."

While the Murcielago's 6.5-liter V12 churned out 632 horsepower, the Aventador turns up the heat even higher. The rear-mounted 6.5-liter V12 sends 700 horses (at 8250 rpm) and 509 lb-ft (at 5500 rpm) through a new 7-speed, single-clutch automated manual transmission. No manual is offered. The vast majority of that power gets to the pavement thanks to a Haldex all-wheel-drive system that usually runs with 100 percent of the power going to the rear axle, but can send up to 60 percent of it to the front.

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A Carbon-Fiber Monocoque Cell
The major breakthrough is in body construction, where the Aventador makes extensive use of carbon fiber. In fact, like a Formula One car, the entire monocoque cell is made of carbon fiber-reinforced composite. It is comprised of several components, though they all act as one after they are bonded and cured. Epoxy foam components placed at strategic points act as spacers to help increase stiffness and reduce noise and vibration. Aluminum inserts are also laminated into the front and rear of the tub to accommodate the corresponding subframes.

This type of construction has many advantages. It functions like a roll cage for passenger protection and offers extreme rigidity to aid handling. Not to mention that the entire monocoque weighs only 324.5 pounds. When adding in the aluminum subframes, the total weight of the body is a mere 505 pounds.

"Our expertise in carbon fiber is more than 30 years old," said Winkelman. "The power-to-weight ratio is something which is key for the super sports car business of tomorrow because we strongly believe that acceleration and handling are the things that are going to matter the most."

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Suspension Inspired by Formula One
Handling is aided by an advanced suspension inspired by Formula One. The Aventador uses a horizontally mounted spring-and-pushrod setup at all four corners. The components are mounted inboard to the body and at each wheel to an aluminum double wishbone suspension. The front shock absorbers can, at the push of a button, raise the front end 40 millimeters to lift the Aventador's ground-scraping chin.

This suspension geometry separates wheel control and damper action, which improves the precision of the springs and dampers and allows the springs to be softened a bit to improve ride quality.

Moving further out, all four brake discs are carbon-fiber composite. Up front, they are 400 millimeters in diameter with six-piston calipers. The rears are 380 millimeters with four-piston calipers. The tires are P255/35R19s up front and P335/30R20s in the rear.

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With a weight savings of 200 pounds over the Murcielago, the Lamborghini Aventador promises race car handling and jaw-dropping straight-line performance. A zero-to-62 mph spring takes just 2.9 seconds, and the top speed is 217 mph. Those numbers best the Murcielago by 0.3 seconds and 4 mph, respectively, which is exactly what Lamborghini needed to do to prove the breeding of its new bull.

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.