2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ review

International first drive

The Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is not only the perfect sign-off to old-school, analogue supercars, it welcomes a new era in aero wizardry.

Damien Reid • Talk about saving the best till last... because this could quite possibly be the last proper supercar, as we know it.

Priced at over a million dollars once on-road costs are included, the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ will be remembered as the last of the analogue supercars, holding back from venturing down the turbocharged and hybrid routes that its competitors have all reluctantly followed.

The 566kW, 6.5-litre, normally aspirated V12 Aventador SVJ is Lamborghini’s glorious two-fingered salute to political correctness before it too succumbs to electrification with its next generation.

With a showroom sticker price of AUD$949,640, just a handful of people will get to call an SVJ their own as production is limited to 900 units globally, and after that we can say arrivederci to a magnificent era of old-school excess.

For now, it’s time to shed a tear and fire up its mighty 12 cylinders one final time and head for pit exit.

In track-oriented Corsa mode, its pipes are straight through and would wake the devil on idle. Snick the paddle-shift of the seven-speed, single-clutch ’box into first, and it engages with a reassuring thunk that would not be out of place in a V8Supercar, and confirms the ’box’s beefed-up claims.

Lamborghini says it will get to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds and another 5.8 seconds to hit 200km/h, before topping out at more than 350km/h. It also boasts a stopping distance from 100km/h to zero in 30 metres.

It took two corners after a solid stab of the throttle exiting pit lane – which fired me like a pinball into turn one, before I braked hard for turn two – for my neck muscles to tell me that those figures are probably on the mark.

The sound of that huge engine screaming violently behind my head to 8500rpm, throwing me around inside the car with lift-off throttle and bullet-like acceleration, was verging on an emotional experience.

Compared to the Aventador SV, the Jota has found an extra 40 per cent of downforce over both axles. A new front bumper with integrated side fins that feature a new intake gives the car added width, and highlights the inclusion of Lambo’s genius Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA) active aero technology.

A three-direction air outlet in the nose traffics air to reduce both drag and increase downforce, while the upper body tweaks also improve cooling and contribute 70 per cent to the total downforce. A wild-looking rear diffuser and fins at the back complete the final 30 per cent, which are aided by vortex generators channelling air under the car.

The massive rear diffuser is incorporated into the rear bumper, while a new high-mounted carbon-fibre wing tops the aggressive visual look from behind.

Its rear engine bonnet has been redesigned to not only block your entire view out the back, but with the gas strut hinges removed to save weight, also means that the hood is detached racecar-style with four quick-release clips.

The ALA active aero system we first saw on the Huracan Performante has been tweaked with the introduction of side winglets that cut turbulence while increasing downforce through high-speed corners.

This actively varies aero load to achieve high downforce or low drag, depending on what you’re doing, by using electrically operated flaps in the front splitter that flip open and shut in less than half a second.

Additionally, the rear wing’s inner air channel splits right and left, just like the original ALA system on the Huracan, allowing aero vectoring for high-speed corners. The result from behind the wheel is that you need less steering angle to get the nose pointed towards the apex, almost feeling like a touch of lift-off oversteer as you tip it in.

A high-mounted exhaust saves weight not only because it’s made from lighter materials, but it’s also shorter. This reduces backpressure and kicks out the most ear-blisteringly awesome sound you could imagine, though your neighbours might hate you.

Major changes to the engine internals comprise new titanium intake valves and a modified intake cylinder head, which gives it an extra 15kW over the Aventador SV at 100rpm higher and 30Nm more torque developed 1250rpm earlier.

Lamborghini reserves its SV name, meaning Super Veloce or Super Fast in English, for its performance versions, but the J refers to a treasured model from the early 1970s, the track-focused Miura Jota. It was the fastest road car on the market, so it’s only fitting that the Jota name returns for the most powerful V12 engine mounted to a production car today.

Carrying the weight of the Jota legacy, this SVJ has to deliver the bite to match its bark, so test driver Marco Mapelli shaved two seconds off the production car lap record around the 20.6km Nordschleife circuit. It was previously set by a Porsche 911 GT2, until Mapelli clocked a seriously quick 6:44.97 seconds.

The suspension has been reworked to cope with not only the extra power, but also the aero-inspired grip and torsional torque placed on the car at high speed. It promises higher mechanical grip through a 50 per cent stiffer anti-roll bar.

Lambo’s rear-wheel steering now works in conjunction with the automated aero tricks, which makes it steer like a much smaller car and allows a delicate, fingertip-light feel through the wheel. That’s something I never would have written about earlier V12 Lamborghinis. It lets you dance the car under brakes, allowing you to pick when and how you want to turn the car in and precisely when to nail the apex.

I’ve rarely had so much fun, nor felt so in control of such a wild beast on the track. McLaren and Ferrari are on notice to lift their collective track-car game.

Like the rear-wheel steer, the main steering at the front has been modified to reflect the aero loads and the huge mechanical grip offered from its bespoke Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres wrapped around the super-light Nireo rims.

Working together, the rear-wheel steering and all-wheel-drive systems send three per cent more torque to the back wheels, which improves the car’s stability, so that you don’t have to wait for the car to be completely balanced before jumping on the brakes turning in to a corner.

There was a time, with Lamborghinis like the Murciélago or Diablo, when you could choose to either brake or steer into a corner but not do both. Thankfully, those days are gone.

The cockpit is familiar to anyone who’s experienced a modern Lamborghini, including the Urus, as a further option has been added to the Strada, Sport and Corsa modes with the addition of the EGO function that debuted on the big SUV.

Whereas EGO on the Urus lets you set it up for differing off-road conditions, on the Aventador SVJ it’s there to allow the driver to fine-tune specific preferences for the track.

The TFT digital dash remains unchanged, though it now shows a live status of the aero functions, and when it comes to ticking the options boxes, the nav’ and infotainment systems, including Apple CarPlay, can be deleted at no cost. You can, however, add Telemetry Systems, which lets you record lap times, monitor track performance and trip data.

Times change and we have to embrace the new technologies coming our way, but for now let’s celebrate the fact that someone still builds a hedonistic car like the Aventador SVJ.

Deliveries start third quarter 2019.

  • Engine: 6.5-litre, V12
  • Transmission: seven-speed automatic
  • Power: 566kW at 8500rpm
  • Torque: 720Nm from 6750rpm
  • 0–100km/h: 2.8 seconds
  • 0–200km/h: 8.6 seconds
  • Top speed: over 350km/h
  • Weight: 1525kg
  • Price: $949,640

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