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If you ever get a chance to properly put a Lamborghini Aventador through its paces, make sure you’re on the right kind of road – a test track or a spin on a German Autobahn should do.
The Aventador, if you hadn’t already deduced from the photograph above, is the most extreme car to ever roll out of Lamborghini’s historic Santa’Agata Bolognese factory – and it’s been a full 52 years in the making.
Lamborghini has been redefining the supercar genre since the covers were first pulled off the fabulous Miura at the 1963 Geneva motor show. In fact, it was the Miura that inspired the term ‘supercar’ in the first place.
Lamborghini again redefined the concept of a supercar when it launched the outrageous Countach in 1974. Here was a car that pushed the automotive design envelope to the outer reaches of exploration, looking more like an inter-galactic spacecraft than any road car.
Next up was the brutal Diablo, upping the ante yet again by adding all-wheel drive to Lamborghini’s V12 weapons system.
The Murcielago was a less convincing effort, more of a reengineered Diablo rather than an all-new creation like Lamborghini’s current flagship in Australia – the eye-popping Aventador LP 700-4. There'll soon be an even faster model, the Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce.
While the tech on-board the Aventador is current generation with a cockpit inspired by the F-22 Raptor jet fighter, it’s also a car that subscribes to the old-school supercar formula. It's massively wide (2.23 metres!) and impossibly low to the deck - perfectly in-sync with its mid-mounted monster engine.
There are plenty of pricy options to tempt the cashed-up buyer. Our $761,500 (plus on-road costs) Aventador tester was loaded with an extra $78K of features including Dione Forged 20-inch front/21-inch rear wheels ($13,800), parking sensors and reverse-view camera ($9600), Rosso Mars paint ($19,500) and transparent engine cover ($14,800), to name a few.
As the LP700-4 nameplate denotes, directly behind the driver’s head sits a 515kW (700 PS) state-of-the-art naturally aspirated V12, longitudinally mounted, and capable of blasting from 0-100km/h in a jet-like 2.9 seconds. Top speed is simply listed as ‘more than 350km/h’.
It’s a bespoke unit developed in-house for the Aventador, and despite its huge 6.5-litre displacement and extraordinary power output at 8250rpm, the whole engine tips the scales at just 235 kilograms.
It’s the same story when it comes to the transmission. Lamborghini decided against a dual-clutch unit, which is used extensively across its sister brands under the Volkswagen Group, due to weight, size and actual shift feel.
Instead, the Aventador uses a quick-shifting ISR (independent shifting rods) robotised gearbox that is claimed to shift cogs in around 50 milliseconds in its most extreme driving mode.
Lamborghini also makes its own carbonfibre monocoque. That’s the entire occupant cell, roof and tub. It’s all one unit, made entirely in-house.
Then there’s the suspension. It’s a race-inspired, ultra-exotic push-rod system that’s fixed directly to the cell itself and typically found only on formula racing cars.
Any day is a good day to drive Lamborghini’s finest. All the more so, given the four year gap since I briefly drove an Aventador in Shanghai at the launch in 2011, but that was only a quick track test – so the opportunity to drive the car around town before hitting our private test facility was all the more interesting.
Lamborghini has always been big on theatrics, especially when it comes to its V12 models.
Foot pressed firmly on the oversized alloy brake pedal, followed by a thumb flick of the bright red, fighter jet inspired start button cover, and this monster ignites. It’s not instantaneous, mind – there’s a delicious starter whine before the V12 erupts.
And it doesn’t take long before heads start turning and other drivers look decidedly gob-smacked. This iteration of Lamborghini’s finest will stand as the most photographed and videoed car of all time, at least by my reckoning. The Aventador has an innate ability to mesmerise - stopping people and cars in their tracks - literally.
School kids armed with iPods and iPhones were literally walking onto the road to get close-ups of our TorroRosso Red tester. I’ve never seen anything like it. No other brand carries this much street cred.
Of the three transmission settings; Strada (Road), Sport and Corsa (Circuit) - Strada offers the most restrained responses and the only real choice for these stop/start conditions as we head north out of the city.
The seats are comfortable enough, even after a few hours behind the wheel. The steering is perfectly weighted and it feels suitably responsive and easy to manage in traffic. It actually feels quite docile in terms of throttle response, at least in this drive mode.
It’s also surprisingly easy to manage, though you will need to be ultra careful not to damage the Aventador’s impossibly low front splitter.
Thank goodness for the electronically operated nose lift system, which raises the front of the car by around 10mm. It’s a mandatory feature on any Lamborghini, and the car can be driven nose-up at speeds up to 80km/h.
Once off the public road system, it’s time to hit the most extreme ‘Corsa’ switch with an opportunity to exploit all the Avenator has to offer.
Dial up the launch control function, and the V12 will hold at 4000rpm before slingshotting the car in what can only be described as organ-rupturing acceleration – though the Aventador maintains an unflappable line.
Make no mistake, this is an intimidating car, at least initially, but the grip from the 355-millimetre-wide rear tyres and pushrod suspension is so colossal it doesn’t take long before you feel comfortable enough to flat-foot it through the kinks.
Mid-range thrust is simply off the charts and full-throttle upshifts are punishing – just the way Lamborghini intended it to be.
The exhaust note, too, is something to behold. At full scream – that’s 8000rpm plus – you’ll think you’re driving a Le Mans GT racer, and in some cases this Lamborghini might even be quicker.
Lamborghini claims the Aventador will hit 200km/h in a staggering 8.9 seconds flat and pull 1.3 G when braking from 100-0km/h.
The problem is, three days with a Lamborghini Aventador simply isn’t long enough - it's like a theme park ride that you can't get enough of.
Whether you’re flat out on a closed road or just sitting in traffic, driving a V12 Lamborghini always feels like a special event.
Thankfully, this Italian carmaker still does one thing better than any other sports car manufacturer in the world – it fearlessly takes the supercar to the extreme.
Photography by Mitchell Oke. Video by Christian Barbeitos.