Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren, Pagani: Is a supercar war brewing?

Lamborghini Aventador is one of three supercars announced this month.

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In Hamburg, Germany, McLaren presented its new high-performance sports car, the Mp4-12C, Sept 3, 2010. The carbon-fiber Car has a rear-mid engine, a 3.8-Liter V8 turbocharged To 600 horsepower. This month, the car went into production, just as two Italian competitors – the Lamborghini Avendator and Pagani Huayra – are gearing up with models of their own.

Does just-leaked news of the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 mean that a new supercar war is heating up – and that there might actually be a strengthening market for such ultra high-end vehicles?

The auto press is buzzing about the Italian automaker’s new flagship car, which will reportedly be unveiled March 1 at the Geneva Motor Show.

It comes with a 700-h.p. V-12 engine and a monocoque (one piece) body made exclusively of carbon fiber mounted on a rigid aluminum frame. That results in a power-to-weight ratio that will get Aventador from 0-60 in under three seconds.

If you need to ask what it costs, then you can’t afford one. Supercars start at $200,000 and can run north of $500,000 – well north, in fact.

Lamborghini Aventador has an estimated price of about $370,000. But much is being made of a new report from IHS Automotive in Frankfurt that says sales of supercars in the US, the top market, could jump 146 percent this year after skidding 40 percent in 2010.

Like haute couture, the world of supercars heats up around major shows. The spotlight burns bright at Geneva.

This month saw two other supercar announcements. Production started this month in Britain for the McLaren MP4-12C, also to be built of lightweight carbon fiber (dry curb weight: about 3,000 lbs., 0-60 in 3.3 seconds). And from Italy, supercar manufacturer Pagani Automobili SpA – maker of the Zonda, a perennial list-topper when it comes to supercar performance – said it will bring a new $1 million model, the Huayra, to the US market this year.

That car, with a 700-h.p. V12, employs aerodynamic flaps (like those on jet aircraft; these aren’t just spoilers and air dams) to help with stability.

Lamborghini, McLaren, and Pagani already were playing in the car-market stratosphere. After the Bugatti Veyron – $1.7 million and, remarkably, street legal – the automakers’ last-generation top models, the Reventon ($1.6 million) and the F1 ($970,000), respectively, were the priciest automobiles out there.

Pagani’s Zonda came in fifth on most lists after the Ferrari Enzo.

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