|All rights reserved.
new chassis and engine, big Lambo wants to be back on top.
A while ago, Evo
gather Lamborghini Aventador and its ancestors Countach, Diablo and
Murcielago for a comparison drive. While the newest car was found to be
easily the best of the bunch, it was Countach
that impressed most. That
is hardly a surprise to our readers. As we always said, no other
supercars dominated the world longer than the mighty Countach – some 17
years to be exact (1974-1987). Ironically, it was also the last
Lamborghini to be regarded as the world's top supercar. Diablo and
Murcielago did not disappoint, but they just followed the formula set
by Countach and failed to take another leap like that from Miura to
Countach. When new generation super-exotics like Ferrari F40, McLaren
F1 and Bugatti Veyron arrived, the big Lambos became outclassed.
For 37 years since the first LP400 launched, the flagship Lamborghini
did not deviate from the formula of tubular spaceframe chassis,
longitudinally mid-mounted V12 and a gearbox mounted fore of the
engine. Traditionalists might call it the classic formula, but the
spirit of Countach was never about classic. It was all about
innovations and excellence. At that time, tubular spaceframe chassis
was the best possible for road cars in terms of weight and rigidity, so
Giampaolo Dallara decided to adopt it without the slightest hesitation.
Today, carbon-fiber is
the top choice for those really exotic – such as Bugatti, Pagani and
Koenigsegg. If Sant'Agata wants to return to the top league, it has to
switch to carbon-fiber chassis. This is especially true since McLaren
managed to bring carbon-fiber tub to the even cheaper MP4-12C last year.
profile remains true to Countach
the to-do list is a brand new engine. We are not asking for a downsized
turbocharged motor, as we know for pure driving satisfaction nothing
compares with an Italian naturally aspirated V12. What the Aventador
needs is a clean-sheet V12 rather than another small evolution of the
Bizzarrini-designed unit, whose history could be traced back to half a
century ago to the very first 350GT ! Modern construction is able to
make it lighter, lower, higher revving and more powerful. As the last
one on SV was already good for 670 horses, a full 700 hp shall be the
In this way, Aventador LP700-4 was born. Like its ancestors, it is
named after a Spanish fighting bull, and the rest of the name
refers to longitudinal mid-engined, 700 horsepower and 4-wheel drive.
The Aventador was designed by the little known Filippo Perini,
Lamborghini's design chief since 2004. Previously responsible for
facelifts like Gallardo Superleggera, LP560-4, Murcielago LP640 and
Reventon, Perini finally got the job that every automotive designer
would dream of: to design a brand new Lamborghini V12 model !
styling attempts to bring back the uncompromising character lost...
The exterior of
is a consistent evolution from the Countach-Diablo-Murcielago
bloodline. Its wedge profile is unchanged, as are the trademark
"scissor doors". However, compare with the refined Murcielago it is
added with an extra sense of aggression. Its nose becomes a knife edge,
ditto the trailing edge of its tail. Its otherwise smooth body is
graphically decorated with hardedge polygons, zigzag cut lines and
ridges inspired by the Reventon
special. Apparently, such efforts attempt to bring back an
uncompromising character lost during the Chrysler and Audi era. I would
say it is largely successful, although the strong flavor of batmobile
from some angles is somewhat comical. At the back, the Aventador is
characterized by six Y-shape LED lights and a single hexagonal exhaust.
Lamborghini did not reveal its drag coefficient, but the Aventador has
a few tricks to keep drag low during top speed run. The rear spoiler is
one of them. It rests flush with the tail at low speed, raises to 11
degrees at mid-range speed to induce downforce and scales back to 4
degrees at very high speed to reduce drag. Similarly, the cooling
intakes normally rest flush with the flying buttresses, pop up at
speed and retract again at high speed.
Compare with Murcielago, the Aventador is 170 mm longer and runs a 25
mm longer wheelbase. However, this does not make it any heavier. On the
contrary, it undercuts the old car by 90 kilograms. The
biggest weight saving comes from the chassis. It comprises of a
carbon-fiber monocoque passenger cell and aluminum front and rear
subframes. The whole chassis weighs only 229.5 kg, while torsional
rigidity is boosted to 35,000 Nm/degree, a far cry from the
Murcielago's 20,000 Nm/degree.
chassis and pushrod suspensions are headlines
Better still, the
carbon-fiber monocoque is built in-house with RTM
(Resin Transfer Moulding) technology co-developed with Boeing and
University of Washington. It utilizes an 80-ton stamping machine to
forge the hot carbon-fiber composites into shape, saving the need for
lengthy fabrication process in high-pressure and high-temperature
chambers, thus reduces production cost by two-third. This allows the
car to have its price inflated by a reasonable 10 percent. At
€255,000 before tax, the big Lambo is significantly cheaper than
million-dollar exotics like Bugatti, Koenigsegg and Pagani, while
making the slower Lexus LFA (at £340,000 or €375,000) seemed
Apart from chassis, the Aventador has its suspensions upgraded, too.
Now the forged aluminum double-wishbones are controlled by racing-style
inboard horizontal springs and dampers via pushrods, just like Pagani,
Koenigsegg and Ferrari Enzo. This reduces unsprung weight and gives
freedom to tuning. On the downside, the car does not offer any kind of
adaptive suspensions – the Ohlins dampers here are passive, a far cry
from Ferrari's magnetorheological adaptive dampers. Perhaps Sant'Agata
has spent too much money on the chassis already.
and zigzags inspired by Reventon
As expected, the bodywork is made largely of carbon-fiber, with the
exception of the aluminum bonnet, doors and bumpers. The new body shell
allows the fitment of larger wheels, measuring 19 and 20-inch front and
rear respectively. This in turn allows larger Brembo CCM ceramic brake
discs – 398mm with 6-piston calipers up front and 380mm with 4-pot
calipers at the rear.
At 1575 kg dry, the
Lambo is still hardly a lightweight. It is 80 kilograms heavier than a
Ferrari 599 GTO and almost 300 kg more than a Koenigsegg. However,
considering the car has a big V12, all-wheel drive system and
relatively luxury features for a supercar, I would say the weight is
reasonable, if not one to be worth special mention.
The original 3.5-liter V12 launched in 1963 employed seriously
oversquare combustion chambers to achieve high rev and power. Over the
years, it gained capacity, reached maximum bore limit and then majored
on lengthening stroke. Ultimately, the 6.5-liter version on LP640 had a
slightly undersquare profile of 88 mm x 89 mm. Now with the opportunity
to do it all over again, the new L539 V12 has its combustion chambers
returned to oversquare profile of 95 mm bore and 76.4 mm stroke.
Displacement remains unchanged at 6.5 liters, which is already very
Specification-wise, the L539 is pretty conventional. It has a 60-degree
V-angle, DOHC 48 valves, dual-VVT and variable intake manifolds like
its predecessor. The aluminum cylinder block is still inserted with
cast-iron cylinder liners rather than coated with modern silicone
spray, while connecting rods are made of forged steel rather than
lightweight titanium (note: both are acceptable as the short-stroke
engine has no difficulty to rev to 8500 rpm). Most surprising of all,
it does not get direct fuel injection like its smaller sibling Gallardo
or its new generation Ferrari rivals. Lamborghini admitted it had
problems to get the exhaust emission right without sacrificing output
power, so DI has been put on the agenda for its next evolution. Like
the passive suspension, this implies a tightly controlled development
direct injection, but still 700 horsepower.
Having said that,
higher compression ratio (11.8:1 instead of the previous 11.1:1), a
more powerful engine management system, more efficient scavenging
lubrication pumps and the aforementioned reprofiled combustion
chambers, the engine is capable of higher rev, more power yet a broader
spread of torque. It produces a maximum 700 hp at 8250 rpm and 509 lbft
of torque at 5500 rpm, an improvement of 30 horses and 22 lbft from the
last LP670-SV. A modest boost perhaps, it is nonetheless a good
starting point for further evolutions to come.
However, the biggest improvement is not output, but the packaging of
the engine. It continues to use dry-sump lubrication, but the new sump
is made much thinner, allowing the crankshaft to sit 75 mm lower in the
chassis than before, greatly lowering center of gravity. The engine is
also made lighter, with its weight reduced from 253 kg to 235 kg,
thanks partly to a new aluminum-silicon alloy. The lower mass of the
engine also helps shifting one percent of weight away from the rear
axle. Weight distrubtion is now 43:57 front to rear.
The V12 is mated to a new 4-wheel drive system. As before, the gearbox
is situated forth of the engine and inside the transmission tunnel of
the cabin to benefit weight distribution. What's new is front/rear
torque split device, now a Haldex 4th generation electromagnetic
multiplate clutch instead of the old viscous coupling. In other words,
a computer-controlled, active torque-split device replaces a passive
mechanical device. It should be a big plus to the new car.
Front-to-rear torque spilt can vary from 0:100 to 60:40 depending on
weight distribution; Haldex 4WD improves traction.
The gearbox is also
all-new. Controversially, Lamborghini decided to skip the popular route
of double-clutch gearbox (due to limited development budget again) and
opt for a new kind of automated manual gearbox. The 7-speed ISR
(Independent Shifting Rods) transmission is a joint-development with
Italian transmission expert Graziano. It weighs 79 kg, considerably
lighter than a dual-clutch alternative, yet it can make gearshift in a
lightning 50 ms - faster than the 60 ms taken by Ferrari 599 GTO and a
night-and-day difference to the 200 ms on the outgoing E-gear ! How
is this achieved? The ISR gearbox uses 4 shift rods to manipulate
gearshifts simultaneously. As one rod is disengaging a gear, another
rod is already engaging the next gear. These actions partially overlap
so to save time. However, it cannot fully pre-select the next gear like
a dual-clutch box because there is only one clutch.
Sadly, the arrival of ISR gearbox means the end of traditional manual
gearbox. Because most customers ordered E-gear in the previous
generation, Sant'Agata decided not to offer manual box alongside the
ISR. The ISR is pretty versatile. It offers 3 modes - Strada (street),
Sport and Corsa (race). The first two also allow full automatic
operation. Apart from gearshift speed and smoothness, these modes also
alter throttle, steering, 4WD torque split and stability control.
cockpit still features a large transmission tunnel, but ergonomics,
build quality and equipment are all vastly improved. First, you will
find it easier to enter the cockpit, thanks to a lower and narrower
door sill. Once settled on the seat, you will find the relationship
between yourself and the controls is far more rational than before. The
instrument pod and center console are finally close enough. The
steering wheel is fully adjustable. The foot well still biases towards
the center, but with the demise of clutch pedal foot room becomes less
cramped. There is decent room for head and elbow. Visibility is good
for the road ahead, more challenging rearward through the shallow rear
window and louvers, but at least you get a standard rearview camera now.
looking cool, cabin delivers an uncomfortable smell of gimmick.
The interior design tries hard to be special, as seen from the
extensive use of polygonal elements and contrasting colors. It could be
more tasteful though. The combination of classic toggle switches and
modern LCD instrument panel is strange, especially when the latter
provides no more functions than conventional dials – unlike Ferrari's
which is integrated with multimedia display. The new instrument allows
you to switch between analogue speedometer plus digital tachometer and
analogue tacho plus digital speedo. While looking cool, it delivers an
uncomfortable smell of gimmick.
Plenty of switchgears come from Audi. Some do not gel with the exotic
cockpit, such as the rectangular air vents (from A6), but they do work
flawlessly. The reskinned Audi MMI multimedia control interface is much
much better than the cheap sat nav on Ferraris.
Strangely and disappointingly, the cabin is completely covered with
leather, alloy and plastic, with none of its carbon-fiber surface
exposed to sight. If you want to have it uncovered, you will have to
pay extra for hotter variants (e.g. SV) in the future.
On the Road
Press the hexagonal Start button and the V12 comes into life. The first
impression is very different from the old engine – it is much smoother,
quieter and more cultured, more like a Ferrari V12. Power delivery is
more linear than ever. It is more tractable low down, pulling eagerly
from 2000 rpm all the way to 8500 rpm like a gas turbine, without any
obvious steps in the wide spectrum. Less dramatic you may say, it is
perfect for accessing performance in bends.
At 3000 rpm, the noise is as subdued as the old engine at idle. This
makes Aventador a better companion for highway cruising. Floor the
throttle, the electronic tacho needle climbs instantly beyond 5000,
6000, 7000 and 8000 rpm. The noise gets loud and angry, releasing the
true personality of the fighting bull. The sound is addictive, although
it lacks the hard edge of 599 GTO.
launch is sensational, thanks in part to violent gearshifts.
Corsa mode is a breathtaking experience. The thrust is so strong,
accompany with a violent kick at your back during each upshift. Yes,
the ISR gearbox is nowhere as smooth as today's double-clutch
each gearshift comes with a short pause followed by a brutal
but it is this drama that makes the Lamborghini's acceleration feel
more spectacular than that of Bugatti Veyron, even though it is
actually slower. Another advantage is a razor sharp throttle response,
something not its turbocharged rivals can match.
Straight line acceleration is a strong card of Aventador, as it is
benefited by more power, less weight, a more sophisticated 4WD system
and electronic launch control. Lamborghini claims an incredible 0-60
mph time of 2.8 seconds, which is merely slower than Bugatti Veyron and
quicker than anything else we have seen. Is it really that quick?
Independent test results from Quattroruote magazine confirmed this.
Auto Motor und Sport recorded slightly slower times, with 0-60, 0-124
and 0-186 mph done in 3.0, 9.4 and 24.8 seconds respectively. The last
figure puts it just behind Bugatti (14.9s for SS and 16.8s for standard
car), Koenigsegg CCX (21.9s), McLaren F1 (22.4s) and Pagani Zonda
Cinque perhaps, while jumping ahead of Ferrari Enzo (26.1s) and leaving
599 GTO for dead. The Lamborghini has greatly narrowed the gaps
from those million-dollar exotics. That alone is a great achievement
for a production car aiming to sell 750 units annually.
As for top speed,
no reason to doubt its 217 mph claim. Whether it manages 210 or 220 mph
in Nardo or Ehra-Leissen is not important. What counts is that drivers
will find it effortless to break 200 mph on Autobahn, by the time the
car is still accelerating.
remains in slow corners; Ovesteer now more friendly.
Performance aside, the Aventador is also a far better car to drive than
Murcielago. It steers better. It stops better. It rides massively more
refined. It slips through the curves more precisely. It feels far
lighter than its predecessor. In a nutshell, it makes LP670-4 SV feel
But what else would you expect? The most important question is: how
does it compare with other excellent supercars? That is more difficult
to answer. For a car so big and heavy, there is always a limitation in
its agility, even though the Aventador hides it quite well. If you
compare it with Ferrari 458 or McLaren MP4-12C, you will find it still
feels cumbersome on regular roads. The sense of its massive width can
never be overcome. Same goes for the initial understeer that built into
its DNA to keep it safe in corners. Yes, the understeer is already less
than its predecessor, but it is still there, especially at slow corners.
It is difficult to say whether the Aventador produce more grip in
corners than the last SV, which was already very good in this aspect,
but it does show a far friendlier manner at cornering limit. While the
old car would scare you with plenty of oversteer, the new car is stable
and planted. Oversteer comes at a modest rate. In fact, on public roads
oversteer is virtually impossible to induce. You need a race track to
access power slide. That also limits its driving fun a bit when compare
with smaller supercars as well as the better balanced 599 GTO.
capable on track; not so on mountain roads.
The ride quality is
definitely better than any Murcielagos, thanks partly to the immense
solidity of its carbon-fiber chassis. Nevertheless, it is not to say it
can compare with the adaptive Ferraris, let alone the
hydraulically-suspended McLaren MP4-12C. The fixed rate dampers mean
Lamborghini can only choose to favour part of the spectrum. It chose to
deliver a beautiful high-speed ride, leaving low-speed ride very hard.
Consequently, the big Lambo is not the best tool to thread through
The steering is another example of "improved but not quite to up the
class best". Compare with its predecessor's, it requires less effort to
turn and shows less shake through the steering column, if not have the
latter completely resolved. It lacks the transparency of Ferrari helms,
probably due to the extra 4-wheel drive mechanicals.
Likewise, the ISR gearbox is far smoother than the old E-gear – even
can be called "refined" in Strada mode – but in Sport mode the
gearchanges are far jerkier than the dual-clutch boxes on its rivals.
Corsa mode is even more unforgiving, thus is best to leave for track
However, the brakes are by all means top class. They have the power to
stop the big Lambo in the same distance as lighter rivals. Pedal feel
is great, too.
rough edges contribute to its character...
The Aventador feels most
at home on wide, flat and fast roads, or even better on tracks. Attack
a fast bend, the car settles with some initial understeer and then the
Haldex clutch starts sending more torque to the front wheels to balance
the car. Bury the throttle on corner exit and you will be amazed with
the immense force that punches the car forward while keeping it on
rails. The cornering power of this car is simply sensational, more so
As Quattroruote magazine found out, it could beat MP4-12C, 599GTO and
911GT3 RS convincingly on a fast track. That could be a surprise for
something so big and heavy. Its all-wheel traction, superior power and
low center of gravity all help to excel on track.
Which comes to our conclusion: is it better than its rivals? That
depends on your preference, of course. If you love to exploit your
supercar regularly on narrow B-roads, nothing could be better than a
compact McLaren or Ferrari 458. If all you want is a car to shine on
the world's fastest roads every Sunday morning, plus a spectacular
look, a bit of uncompromising character
and the most exotic bloodline to appreciate in the rest of the week,
the big Lambo remains the very best. A perfect supercar it isn't, but
just like its ancestors, those rough edges contribute to its character
and make it all the more desirable.
|All rights reserved.
| Aventador LP750-4 SV
more powerful and faster than the standard Aventador, but it is a lot
more than numbers…
The SV badge was first used
on Miura in 1971. Standing for Super Veloce, or Super Fast in English,
it represented the go-faster version of Lamborghini’s supercar.
Countach did not use this badge throughout its life, but since Diablo,
every generation of Lamborghini’s V12 machine must have an SV
derivative. The current Aventador is no exception. Like its ancestors,
LP750-4 SV is lighter, more powerful and faster than the standard car.
It carries 50 kg less weight, while its engine pumps out an extra 50
horsepower. The result is a power-to-weight ratio lifted by 10 percent,
and 0-60 mph sprint reduced by a tenth to 2.7 seconds. However minor
these improvements sound, on the road it feels a very different beast –
in fact, a lot more than the numbers suggested…
Let’s see what have been modified first. This is obvious from the
outlook. The standard Aventador is already one of the most aggressive
looking cars on earth. However, “one of the most” is not enough to
Sant’Agata. It wants to be on top. So the SV gets even more aggressive.
Its nose and front splitters get pointier and together form a big
trident (take note, Maserati). Black carbon side skirts make its body
appear to be slimmer. The flying buttresses no longer feature pop-up
intakes but 4 fixed intake ducts, again made of carbon-fiber. At the
rear, there are larger diffusers, new quad-exhaust, more ventilations
and a fixed carbon rear wing. The latter can be adjusted to 3 different
angles manually. That body-colored diffuser top cover mirrors the upper
plane of front splitter. It’s a clever design, not only adding style
but also relieving the visual mass of the tail. Lamborghini design is
finally back to the top!
of the most” is not enough to Sant’Agata. It wants to be on top.
The extra aero kits boost downforce by 170 percent. At 280 km/h or 174
mph, there is now between 186 and 218 kg of positive downforce
depending on the rear wing angle. You might ask why the latter vary so
little. I suppose that is because the Lamborghini lacks active aero
(unlike Ferrari and many other supercars), so keeping the rear wing
downforce within a narrow window will not alter front-to-rear balance
too much. Curiously, the quoted top speed of 217 mph is the same as
the standard Aventador, and it is achievable with the highest downforce
setting, so it is obviously regulated by electronics.
De-restricted, it might be capable of over 220 mph!
That is perhaps not a surprise when you consider the car has 750
horsepower on offer. Aston Martin’s 7.3-liter V12 on One-77 remains to
be the most powerful naturally aspirated engine on earth, but the
Lamborghini comes within 10 horsepower with smaller displacement (okay,
you might say the same thing to Ferrari F12, whose engine is smaller
again and 10 hp adrift). The Lamborghini 6.5-liter V12 has yet to get
direct injection, but its modified valve timing, intake manifolds and
exhaust with lower back pressure are already enough to squeeze out
another 50 horsepower at 8400 rpm, 150 rpm higher than the previous
peak, although maximum rev is kept at 8500 rpm. Maximum torque is
unchanged, too, but with 509 pound-foot you don’t need to beg for more.
makes the Lamborghini V12 special is its soundtrack, and you get more
in the SV.
At normal pace, it is hard to tell if the engine is different from the
standard unit. Rev it closer to the top end, you can feel the extra
shove and enthusiasm for rev. Its throttle response is even sharper
than the standard engine, especially in Corsa mode. However, what makes
the Lamborghini V12 special is its soundtrack, and you get more in the
SV because of the quad-exhaust and reduced sound insulation throughout
the cockpit. Beyond 8000 rpm, it is shockingly loud and addictive.
The 7-speed ISR gearbox has its shift quality improved a little, but
you still won’t confuse it with a dual-clutch gearbox. In the more
aggressive modes, every gearshift is accompanied with a shockwave. That
said, it matches the aggressive character of SV.
The 50 kg weight reduction is achieved by using carbon-fiber for more
body parts, such as bonnet, doors and rear wing, as well as a stripped
out interior. It has infotainment system, carpets and most sound
insulation discarded. The carbon-fiber bucket seats are also lighter.
It goes without saying less weight leads to better handling. However,
even more influential are 3 other modifications.
the standard car feels a little bulky and understeery at initial
turn-in, the SV steers much more responsively.
The first is the Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires. They are an inch taller
and shod around larger forged alloy wheels. As implied by the Corsa
label, these semi-slicks don’t last as long as the regular road tires,
but they offer tremendous grip and are fine for some flying laps on
track. The second is the addition of magnetorheological adaptive
dampers. In Strada mode they add new-found ride comfort
to the big Lambo, even though the spring rates are slightly increased.
In Sport and Corsa modes, the stiffened damping have body movement more
tightly controlled, maintaining composure over small bumps or kerbs.
The third is the new variable-ratio electrical power steering. It is
also found on Huracan, but this one has been improved to behave more
consistently (it locks the ratio once you have entered a corner). Quite
amazingly, it has the handling of Aventador transformed! While the
standard car feels a little bulky and understeery at initial turn-in,
the SV steers much more responsively, thanks to the quick ratio adopted
at lower speeds. It’s not quite as direct as the racks of Ferrari 458
or F12, but it is quick enough to make the big Lambo feels agile and
alert for the first time. Admittedly, the retuned Haldex 4WD system is
also cooperative to cut understeer.
On track, all these elements gel to make the SV the most exciting
Lamborghini to drive by some margin. It feels sharp, responsive and
even edgy. Corner entry comes with a little understeer, which is fine
for security, but it will adjust the line if you lift off mid-corner.
Apply a heavy dose of power again, you can swing the tail outward – and
massively if you want! Ultimately the 4WD and stability control will
catch it, but before that happens you have the option to alter the
balance with throttle. Mind you, it is not as easy to control the
balance as the lighter and less powerful 458 Speciale, McLaren 650S or
911 GT3 RS. You have to be more delicate with throttle and brakes. But
the option is there and what you need is more practice to understand
its temper. Lamborghini’s handling has never been so interactive!
handling has never been so interactive!
By this time you must have watched the official video showing the SV
lapping Nurburgring Nordschleife in 6:59.73. It was recorded in the
only flying lap it attempted, so potentially it could beat the
production car lap record of 6:57, set by Porsche 918 Spyder last year.
That's an incredible achievement for a classic, big naturally aspirated
supercar. It is also at least 20 seconds
quicker than the standard LP700-4. For comparison, the recent Porsche
991 GT3 RS is
only 5-8 seconds quicker than the standard GT3. One can see how giant a
leap the SV
has taken. This has to be one of the fastest cars
in the real world regardless of price!
Speaking of price, the SV is sold at “just” £320,000, versus
£260,000 of the standard car. It is still a relative bargain by
supercar standards. With 600 units slated to production in the next
couple of years, it won’t be exactly exclusive, but few others could
deliver the same visual impact, sensational noise, response and all the
theatrical factors. Welcome back to the top of the game!
|All rights reserved.
| Centenario LP770-4
million plus tax buys you the most aggressive looking Aventador. Isn't
it too expensive?
Ferruccio Lamborghini was
born in 1916. To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the birth of its
founder, Lamborghini introduces the limited edition Centenario. Only 20
coupes and 20 roadsters will be built for buyers already placed orders.
Each costs an eye-popping €1.75 million plus tax. Considering its
rarity, it might sound a bargain compared with the €2.4 million Bugatti
Chiron, but then again the Lambo is less special, because it is
practically a rebodied Aventador SV. Based on the same running chassis,
6.5-liter V12 and 4-wheel-drive powertrain, the Centenario adds
only 20 horsepower to the equation thanks to none other than remapping
the engine management system, which raises its redline by a scant 100
rpm and maximum output to 770 hp at 8500 rpm, all the while without
altering torque production. Its top speed is unchanged at 217 mph,
while 0-60 mph is still accomplished in 2.7 seconds – admittedly, any
cars achieving acceleration performance at this level is hard to
improve further. According to official figures, you need to go to 300
km/h (186 mph) to see it pulls away from the SV by half a second. You
pay an extra €1.4 million for that slim advantage. Is it worthwhile?
pay an extra €1.4 million for half a second advantage in 0-300 km/h.
In performance terms, it is definitely not. From collector’s point of
view, if you have an acquired taste on styling, it might be. The
Centenario is the maddest, baddest looking Lamborghini of all.
Beautiful it is not, but it certainly turns head. It’s so aggressive
that I suppose Batman would be eager to get one in stock form. Although
the wedge body shape is familiar, the surface treatment is far more
aggressive than Aventador. Up front, its nose features a more effective
double-plane air splitter which draws air towards the two ducts
sculpted in the bonnet, certainly adding downforce. The front splitter
is added with vertical strakes which are painted in yellow to catch
attention. At both sides, there are yellow vertical blades added to the
skirts to improve air flow. The upper and main side intakes have been
combined to a massive single unit, covering the entire trailing edge of
the door like Bugatti Chiron. This has a big visual impact to the car,
making it looks hotter and more performance-oriented. At the back, the
thoroughly redesigned diffuser is not only larger but it features 6
vertical blades, which are again yellow-tipped to catch eyes. The rear
wheels are now half-exposed by the open diffuser, a reminder to
Countach. Above the diffuser, a new hydraulic rear wing can raise
vertically by 150 mm and tilt for up to 15 degrees. It alone generates
227 kg of downforce at 280 km/h (sadly, Lamborghini won’t reveal the
total downforce generated by the whole aero package). It goes without
saying the new bodywork is made entirely of carbon-fiber.
is a more track-oriented machine than the SV. For pure road use, we
might prefer the SV.
On the road, the new aero is unlikely to make a discernible difference,
but on a race track you can feel the extra downforce at fast bends,
which allows the Centenario to grip harder and corner faster. Another
discernible difference is the new active rear-wheel steering, something
Porsche and Ferrari already used in some of their cars, but the first
time on Lamborghini (though it will be applied to all Aventadors
later). Below 45 mph, the rear wheels turn up to 3 degrees in opposite
direction to shorten turning circle. Above that speed, they steer in
the same direction to enhance directional stability. As a result, the
Centenario feels more agile in town and slow corners, but more stable
when you are committed to the driving. Unfortunately, some of the
playful oversteer of the SV has been lost. In addition to the stiffer
adaptive damper tuning, the use of rigid suspension bushings and
reduced sound insulation, the Centenario is a more track-oriented
machine than the SV. For pure road use, we might prefer the SV.
More universally welcomed is the improved tuning to the ISG
transmission, whose gearshift is slightly less violent than before. The
upgraded infotainment system with a larger portrait touchscreen is also
welcomed. No doubt both will be seen on lesser Aventadors, too, because
it doesn’t make sense to develop them for only 40 cars.
For so much money, you can buy a LaFerrari, McLaren P1 or Porsche 918
Spyder with change. Why are there still people wanting the rebodied
Aventador? Especially when Lamborghini already introduced Reventon and
Veneno a few years back? And why is Aston Martin able to launch batch
after batch of ultra-expensive limited editions? It proves that not
only the world has too many rich people, but the coach-building
industry has returned to prosperity not seen since the 1930s.
| Published on 26
|All rights reserved.
| Aventador S
as Miura S, Aventador S has a difficult task to fulfill, but it does
Aventador S, what a simple
name. The last time we saw Lamborghini used simply an “S” to represent
an updated version, rather than the cumbersome LPXXX-X nomenclature,
Ferruccio was still taking charge of his company. That was Miura S. The
original Miura was known for jaw-dropping beauty and wild performance
claims, but its chassis was seriously underdeveloped. It was Miura S
that finally had most problems sorted out and realized its promises.
Aventador S is just the same. As much as we loved the original
Aventador – for its shape, brutal power and all flaws that became part
of its character – we have to admit that it no longer meets the
expectation for a supercar today. Junior supercars like McLaren 675LT
and Ferrari 488GTB are a lot lighter, more agile, more precise to
control and, ridiculously, even faster in straight line. The big Lambo
feels outdated in comparison. Therefore, Aventador S has a difficult
task: it needs to have the rough edges rounded, to lift agility and
precision dramatically and to prove that the V12 mid-engined format is
still relevant to today's requirements. The letter S might sound
simple, but it actually carries a lot of weight.
The Aventador S looks cleaner than the old car thanks to a restyled
nose with new intakes and front splitter – the latter generates 130
percent more front downforce. At the back, it adopts the SV's fixed
intake ducts at the C-pillars, replacing the retractable units of the
old car that I loved so much (sadly). The diffuser also
gets closer to the spec. of SV, but the centrally-mounted triple-pipe
exhaust is unique. Made of titanium, the latter saves 6 kg.
The chassis has received equal attention. For the first time, the
standard Aventador is equipped with adaptive dampers. These advanced magnetorheological
units are borrowed from the SV. Meanwhile, the recent Centenario
special lends its active
rear-wheel steering. To cope with these changes, the Aventador S has
revised its suspension geometry, rear springs, stability control
setting and even adopts a set of Pirelli P Zeros with new compounds.
Surprisingly, its dry weight stays at 1575 kg, as the weight of
rear-wheel steering hardware is offset by the lighter exhaust.
4WS, it no longer feels clumsy to handle. Its chassis dynamics is a big
The most influential change is definitely the rear-wheel steering. Like
rivalling systems on Porsche and Ferrari, at low speed it
steers the rear wheels in direction opposite to the front wheels to
sharpen the turn-in, and in the same direction at high speed to enhance
stability. However, Lamborghini uses it more aggressively – it steers
the rear wheels up to 3 degrees in opposite direction and 1.5 degree in
the same direction. This effectively equals to shortening the wheelbase
by 500mm in tight corners, or lengthening the wheelbase by 700mm at
high speed. Moreover, to deal with the understeer problem
of Aventador, it keeps counter-steering the rear wheels until 70-82 mph
(depending on many factors), way higher than other applications we have
seen so far. As a result, the Aventador S has its notorious understeer
largely banished. Its turn-in becomes much sharper, more so than the
SV. It feels lighter and more agile, too, although it would be
irresponsible to say it felt as agile as those lighter supercars. The
enhanced agility also comes from the retuned stability control and
Haldex 4WD system, which can keep 90 percent torque at the rear axle so
that it finally feels like a rear-drive machine. You can adjust the
driving line with throttle and even push the tail slightly outward. The
big Lambo no longer feels clumsy to handle. Its chassis dynamics is a
big step forward!
The new car gets also the SV’s variable-ratio electrical power
steering. Working in harmony with the active rear steering, it makes
tight corners handy to turn. Its direct gearing requires much less
steering effort, while on highway it asks for fewer corrections. Both
precision and feedback have been improved.
The magnetorheological adaptive dampers maintain tight body control
while improve ride comfort. No, it is not as supple as McLarens or
Ferrari 488, but compared with the old car its ride feels smoother in
of its 3 suspension modes.
weakest link is again that ISG gearbox...
Is the car any faster? The 6.5-liter V12 is largely unchanged, but
with revised variable intake manifold and increased valve overlapping
it gets closer to the state of tune on SV. It produces 740 hp at 8400
rpm, up 40 ponies, while torque stays the same. Strangely, Lamborghini
still quotes the same 217 mph top speed and 0-60
mph time of 2.8 seconds. 0-124 and 0-186 mph are slightly quicker than
before, but it still trails the lighter SV as well as the
aforementioned Ferrari and McLaren junior supercars. However, the
Italian V12 still produces one of the most memorable noises in the
world, something not a flat-crank V8 could replicate. Its aural thrills
and its instantaneous throttle response more than make up
for what it loses in ultimate performance.
Unfortunately, the weakest link is again that 7-speed ISG gearbox. As
it is left untouched in this update, its gearshifts are either slow or
brutal, depending on driving modes. Its torque interruption and
subsequent kick feels like industrial grade in the world of
dual-clutches. This seriously hampers its driving satisfaction. Perhaps
it is time to invest into a new gearbox?
The Aventador S is unquestionably a huge improvement over the original.
It has most problems sorted out, most notably the understeer, clumsy
handling and stiff ride. In many ways it feels as great as the SV,
perhaps even more agile. The SV is a sharper weapon on tracks, thanks
to its Corsa tires, extra downforce and weight reduction, but the
Aventador S is a better road car. It is still troubled by an outdated
gearbox and some limitations inherited from Countach, such as lack of
headroom, limited visibility and difficult access to the cabin. Some
may say it is not as user friendly as junior supercars, while
billionaires might think it is not special enough. However, with more
than 1000 cars sold every year, its formula seems to be quite
successful so far. The S should keep the legend alive.