What it's like to drive the world's fastest Lamborghini
In the centre of Lamborghini's shield-shaped badge is a charging bull. It looks enraged, but it's nowhere near as angry as latest car from the Italian brand. The new Aventador SVJ, is absolutely furious. And fast …
Powered by the most powerful V12 engine ever bolted into a road-legal Lamborghini, the Aventador SVJ is the current Nurburgring production car lap record holder. Back in July it lapped the legendary German circuit in a fraction under 6 minutes 45 seconds, more than two seconds faster than the then-reigning champ, Porsche's 911 GT2 RS.
In Lambo lingo "SVJ" means track-worthy. The letters stand for Super Veloce, Italian for super fast, plus Jota, Spanish for 'J', and a reference to the section of the international motor racing rule book defining race car categories. Simpler to think of it as the maddest version of the baddest car Lamborghini makes. It's also likely to be the full stop at the end of the Aventador story.
The two-seater with a carbon-fibre chassis and racer-style pushrod suspension first appeared back in 2011. Since then, Lamborghini has regularly released versions with more power, improved handling and altered looks. The Aventador SVJ has all of these.
Lamborghini has sold more than 8000 Aventadors so far, but will build only 900 examples of the SVJ. The company will decide how many will go to each market around the world in late September or early October, so it's not yet known how many will make it to Australia.
What is certain is that Australian buyers will pay about $1 million to put an Aventador SVJ in their garage. The list price is $949,640, not including on-road costs.
This buys more than just a car. The Aventador has always been the ultimate accessory for someone who believes not nearly enough people are staring at them.
With the SVJ, Lamborghini's design department has made the Aventador even harder to ignore. The car's wedge-shaped body and scissor doors have always delivered visual drama. The SVJ adds a new rear wing and a pair of massive, knee-height exhaust pipes. They're not just for show …
The pipes are a hint that Lamborghini's engineers have given the Aventador's high-revving V12 a big upgrade. The cylinder heads of the non-turbo 6.5-litre engine have been redesigned and the exhaust system made more compact. Delivering 566kW at 8500rpm, the SVJ is 10 per cent more powerful than the original Aventador.
The wing features Lamborghini's patented ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva) system, which presses down on the slip-prone rear tyre on the inside of the curve, but not on the outside tyre. Lamborghini engineering chief Maurizio Reggiani calculates ALA applies an extra 20kg or so.
According to Reggiani, computer simulations show this tech cuts tenths of a second from the Aventador's Nurburgring lap time. Without it, in other words, the car wouldn't have been able to break through the 6 minute 45 second barrier.
Lamborghini presented the Aventador SVJ to media at the Autodromo do Estoril near Lisbon in Portugal. Wise choice. A racetrack is the place to find out what it can do.
Choosing Corsa mode prepares the engine, its seven-speed automated gearbox, all-wheel-drive system and chassis for circuit action, making everything more responsive. There are also Strada, Sport and pick'n'mix Ego modes.
The SVJ's standard carbon-ceramic brakes are fierce enough to almost leave seatbelt bruises on your chest. The steering is super-precise and provides a great sense of connection with the track.
Cornering presses you hard into the deep-dished, racer car-style seat. But bends also demand a delicate touch on the accelerator pedal to keep the car neatly balanced. Too much power too early and the Lamborghini's sticky rubber will begin to slip.
The best part of each lap begins with the right-hander onto Estoril's long straight. It's taken in third, with the V12 wailing at about 7000rpm. Once the steering wheel is straight it's time to press the pedal all the way to the carbon fibre. The sound rises to a scream as the revs soar. Then it's time to tap the right-hand paddle shifter for the next gear.
Bam! The gearbox slams into fourth gear and the driver feels a violent slap in the back. Soon, with the grandstand blurring by at well over 200km/h, it's time for another whack as fifth gear is engaged.
It's as subtle as a bull ride, which is just the way Lamborghini buyers like it.
What is Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva?
The secret to the Aventador SVJ's rear wing is a two-piece flapper valve beneath the cover of its rear-mounted engine. Here speed pushes air into a forward-facing, mesh-mouthed duct. With the valves open, this air rushes through the rear spoiler's centre pillar, then is guided to slots cut in the wing's underside. This airflow reduces the effect of the spoiler, cutting aero drag and so increasing top speed. For corners, ALA opens only one side of the two-piece valve, creating pressure on the tyre on the inside of the curve, but not the outside tyre.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ vitals
Warranty/servicing: 2 years/unlimited km, no capped service
Safety: Not NCAP rated, 6 airbags
Engine: 6.5-litre V12, 566kW/720Nm
Spare: Inflation kit
0-100km/h: 2.8 secs