While billionaires probably aren’t great at delaying gratification, that’s what those lucky enough to get their names down for the 2021 Lamborghini Sián have had to do.
This Aventador-based special was officially unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show – back in the days when we had motor shows – but the entire run of 63 coupes had already sold out before the covers were whipped off.
That was despite a price tag of €2.5m (AUD$3.9m) before the additional hosing of taxes and duties, or any conversation with Lambo’s Ad Personam bespoke service. Buyers have had to sit on their hands for nearly 18 months before cars started to be delivered. You’re welling up for them, aren’t you?
Lamborghini was originally planning to hold an appropriately exotic drive event for the Sián somewhere in Italy, but Europe’s COVID travel restrictions meant it ended up being easier to move the car than the journos. Which is why CarAdvice’s first drive took place in the distinctly unexotic location of the UK’s Millbrook Proving Ground on a rainy Wednesday in February.
The highlights are all pretty much as we told you back in 2019. The Sián is the most powerful Lamborghini road car of all time thanks to an even brawnier 577kW version of the 6.5-litre V12 that powers the Aventador SVJ.
This is supported by a true first: a supercapacitor hybrid system that adds modest assistance, but also brings a minimal 34kg weight penalty. This is a 48V system that combines a capacitor pack on the rear bulkhead with a motor integrated into the transmission, and which is capable of contributing up to 25kW of power and 35Nm of torque at speeds of up to 130km/h.
The overall effect is greater than those numbers might suggest. That's because of both the supercap’s ability to throw in instant urge when the engine is running at low revs – in-gear acceleration is up to 10 per cent better than the SVJ – and also the ability to use e-torque to fill in some of the gaps in changes from the old-fashioned automated single-clutch transmission. A peak 600-amp flow rate means the capacitor can discharge and recharge very quickly, with the capacitor’s state relayed through a dashboard capacity display.
The supercap is clever, but once the V12 is running it is almost completely forgotten. The Sián definitely isn’t one of those softly-softly plug-in hybrid hypercars. Rather, it's one that lives to celebrate what is almost certainly the angriest version of Lamborghini’s angriest V12.
Even at idle it is loud, and fills the cabin with buzzing harmonics. Adding revs turns it into a true diva, louder and rowdier than even the SVJ. By 6000rpm, the engine is producing the sort of sounds that most supercars reserve for the reddest parts of their tachos. By the time it reaches its own 8500rpm limiter, the Sián is otherworldly. If you had to pick only one supercar to listen to for the rest of time, come here first.
Performance is predictably mighty, although even the punchiest Lambo still lacks the gathering storm sensation caused by the boosty 'torquenami' of turbocharged alternatives. Beyond smoothing out low-speed manoeuvring, and taking the sting out of upshifts with the old-fashioned automated single-clutch gearbox, there is no sensation of electrical assistance.
Higher speeds were limited to Millbrook’s high-speed bowl, a 3.2km constant-radius curve, chasing a Huracan Evo that had been instructed to set a cautious pace in the sodden conditions. A peak of 210km/h felt almost leisurely.
The proving ground’s twisting Hill Route had to stand in for the real world, its combination of tight corners and sizeable crests doing a damp impression of a tight-fitting Alpine pass. The Sián felt less at home in this more challenging environment, the most obvious limitations being its 2.1m width and the poor visibility from the combination of a low seating position and a high glass line.
Slower bends made the Lambo’s mass obvious – it is 1600kg ‘dry’ on Lamborghini’s numbers – and even reaction-sharpening active rear steering couldn’t prevent the sensation of the front P-Zeros running short on grip when powered into a tight turn.
Higher speeds suited it better. As with most Lamborghinis, the Sián’s steering is light but responses are keen and linear, and sensation builds up as chassis loadings increase. The ride on pushrod suspension never felt less than punishing over even small imperfections – regardless of whether the car was in its Strada, Sport or Corsa dynamic mode – but body control proved flawless over even Millbrook’s biggest crests. These including the one that was used for the stunt where James Bond’s Aston DBS crashes in Casino Royale.
Of course, flat-out driving isn’t likely to be a big part of the typical duty cycle for something so exotic. And on the other side of the equation – that of showing off – the Sián completely over-delivers. In the flesh it looks like a motor show concept come to life, visually outrageous even by Lamborghini’s high standards – and successfully disguising the Aventador structure that lurks beneath.
The Sián’s wedgy profile and louvred engine cover pay obvious tribute to the Countach, and the Y-shaped daytime running lights inspired by those of the Terzo Millennio EV concept in 2017. The rear view is, if anything, even more extreme with the huge tyres flanking an XXL diffuser and six hexagonal tail-light elements that seem to hang in space.
The rear deck incorporates both active cooling flaps that rotate open as underbody temperatures rise, and also a pop-up rear wing that stays hidden until the car is moving at speed.
The cabin isn’t quite as special, being obviously closely related to that of the Aventador, which you can buy in most parts of the world with a 90 per cent discount. Materials are plusher and it gets a redesigned centre console and a nice-looking new portrait touchscreen, plus various 3D-printed components.
There is also an electrochromic glass panel in the roof that can be dimmed electrically. But it still feels as tight as the Aventador, with fixed-back bucket seats limiting head room and making me glad I’m not having to drive wearing a helmet.
Regarded solely as a car, it’s hard to make a cost-based case for the Sián. On the basis of my admittedly limited drive, the Aventador SVJ is more dynamically accomplished, and the much cheaper Ferrari SF90 Stradale and forthcoming McLaren Artura have much more advanced hybridised powertrains. But as an experience and encapsulation of Lamborghini’s outrageous spirit, the Sián is unbeatable.