Confession time: The Lamborghini Aventador is not my favourite car from the Italian supercar manufacturer. I’m not sure if it would even rank in my top-five. Of course, I’d also be the first to admit that my time behind the wheel has not been conducive to really uncovering what this supersports car is all about.
First impressions of the LP 700-4 coupe were gathered in the country roads outside Bologna during rush hour. My second crack at the car, the LP 700-4 Roadster, did encompass some track time, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but some of the drivers didn’t seem capable of harnessing all that power, so the rest of us were left held up in a too-slow speed train.
The story was far different this time around—and the story was far better.
For the launch of the 2015 Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce, the itinerary was dead simple: Four sessions per person, four laps per session, no public road time whatsoever. The setting was also noteworthy: the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, site of the Spanish F1 Grand Prix and the MotoGP race.
Built in 1991 with an end-of-lap chicane added later by Hermann Tilke, the track has an old-school feel to it with less point-and-shoot and more hustle-and-flow than the typical new grand prix circuit. This suited the Lamborghini just fine.
For the uninitiated, the Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce (SV for short), is a limited-edition version (just 600 for the world) of the coupe with some extremely appealing enhancements.
First, as you’d gather from the name alone, one of the big changes is to the output of the naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V-12 — 37 additional kW has been extracted (taking output to 552kW) through changes to the variable valve timing and variable intake system. A lightweight exhaust system with reduced backpressure and a more sonorous effect has also served to boost the inherent appeal of the engine. These changes have also produced a richer torque curve, while redline has been lifted to 8500 rpm.
The stated performance of the Aventador SV is a story in and of itself. Zero to 100 km/h comes along in a very big hurry: 2.8 seconds. The Lamborghini will even sprint to 200 km/h in less time than it takes the average car to hit 100: 8.6 seconds. Top speed is a bit more of a vague figure with the press release only indicating somewhere in excess of 350 km/h.
Not indicated by the racy name of the new supersports car are the other key improvements—the serious reduction in weight and the even more impressive increase in downforce.
All told, the Aventador SV is 50kg lighter than the base coupe, an improvement reached by using lightweight forged alloy wheels, as well as carbonfibre for the door panels, rocker panels, fixed air intakes and rear wing. On the inside, carbonfibre bucket seats and door panels slash more weight, while the removal of carpet, extra sound insulation and the infotainment system has also chipped in. (The infotainment system can be added back in as a no-cost option.)
The lightweight rear wing is manually adjustable to one of three settings; the angle can be changed to either produce more downforce or to reduce drag, altering the aerodynamic balance of the car by as much as 15 per cent. The ground effects from the wing are augmented by a completely different front and rear fascia.
The front has been completely redesigned to include larger air intakes for better brake cooling and two separate wings, one in carbonfibre and one painted in the colour of the car. At the back, the look is also entirely different; the large, exposed rear diffuser with vertical fins also incorporates carbon fibre has been to reduce weight. In bigger news, the new front and rear design create a car with 150 per cent more aerodynamic efficiency than the standard Aventador. Even more critically, overall downforce has increased by 170 per cent.
The final piece of the performance puzzle is in the revisions to the steering and suspension system.
This car marks the introduction of something called Lamborghini Dynamic Steering (LDS), an electromechanical steering set-up with ratios that vary according to speed and the drive mode selected. And the suspension system signals another first — the first time in history that a pushrod suspension has incorporated magneto-rheological adaptive dampers.
The goal behind the revised suspension was to slash body roll without sacrificing ride quality — in order for the aerodynamics to work their magic, the attitude of the Aventador SV needed to be as constant as possible.
On paper, all of these many improvements constitute an impressive list. On track, the thing is even more impressive.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a challenging place. There are long, high g-force turns, chicanes with quick transitions and heavy braking sections. Driving the track removes any mystery as to why it’s a preferred testing venue for F1. In these conditions, the Aventador SV proved a major surprise because it’s significantly better than the base version in nearly every respect.
The extra downforce and changes to the suspension give the car a connected feel that simply can’t be found in the regular version. In corners of every angle and description and speed, the SV held fast to the surface of the track; the understeer that was a key feature of the all-wheel drive supersports car has been dialed way back. In fact, in sweeping corners, the car can easily be steered with the throttle alone.
Through the chicanes, the SV proved remarkably capable of transitioning from left to right and vice versa in a blink. All the changes have given the front end of the car a pointiness that just wasn’t there before. This alone has transformed the Aventador into a much more rewarding car to drive.
The latest Lamborghini is also an eye-opener when you consider the changes that haven’t been made. The hardware on the braking system, which was the focus of criticism from other outlets during track tests of the base version, has not been touched in the least. The ABS programming has received some revisions, but the carbon ceramic discs (400mm in the front; 380mm at the back) are identical, as are the calipers (six in the front; four at the back) and the brake pads.
The big difference in performance, according to Maurizio Reggiani, director of R&D for Lamborghini, comes down to improved brake cooling and the 50kg less mass the brakes are required to harness.
While the feel of the brakes on the Aventador SV is far more ideal—initial pedal application has a vagueness that is troubling when coming down from high speeds—it’s also true that the brakes did the job. They were required to haul the car down from triple-digit speeds in very short order and they completed the task without fail.
The other area of concern, the transmission, performed even better. While the Italian concern opted to give the Huracan a dual-clutch automatic transmission instead of the single-clutch featured on the Gallardo, they have held fast with the ISR 7-speed for the Aventador SV.
Lamborghini hails the ISR as “the fastest automated manual gearbox in the world” and there’s really no reason to doubt this statement. Shifts are clocked in as little as 50 milliseconds and the combination of the gear changes and the sheer power of the SV makes the car feel like an overgrown shifter kart.
Sure, there’s still that violent hesitation you feel when taking the next gear, the hesitation that dual-clutch automatics seek to reduce to absolutely nothing. But, to be honest, when hurtling down a straight with all that power under foot, the aggressive feel of the ISR simply added to the overall impact of the driving experience—it was simply a blast.
There’s yet another impressive fact about the Aventador SV: It’s posted a lap time around the Nordschleife of under seven minutes—a time of 6:59.73, to be precise. According to the figures researched as of this writing, that is the fourth-best production car lap of all time and just two seconds off the pace of the Porsche 918 Spyder.
At this point, all that’s left to say about 2016 Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce is just… wow.