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Car reviews - Lamborghini - Aventador - S

Our Opinion

We like
A genuine supercar experience, technical tour de force mixed with old school muscle
Room for improvement
Torque-converting auto not a great thing on track, how much?


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22 Mar 2017

THE chance to sample the machines that grace the top of the automotive tree come along fairly infrequently, so despite the fact that five laps of a wet race track is all that’s on offer, it’s better than nothing at all.

The funny thing is that most Aventadors are unlikely to nose their way into a hot pitlane in the course of their lifetimes, save for the occasional end-of-day lap after the real track toy is packed away.

The Aventador is the spiritual successor to such luminaries as the Countach and the Murcielago – cars whose legend strode before them in waves of adulation… and often through the tint of rose coloured glasses.

The Countach can rightfully be denoted as automotive pornography, but reliable it was not. The Murcielago, built under the guidance (but not interference) of new owners Volkswagen, was better, but a clutch change, for example, still necessitated a five-figure fee to remove the entire motor from the car.

With the introduction of the cheaper, slower but more nimble Gallardo – a process of agonised consideration in itself, according to insiders – came a new wave of customers looking to actually use their cars.

The Murcielago, and the Aventador that succeeded it, aren’t cut from that cloth.

Even with its blistering ability, the scissor doors on the Aventador S will be swung opened more often in the streets of Monte Carlo and Abu Dhabi than they will at in the pit lane at Spa or Yas Marinas.

Still, rude not to give it a lash on the track if they’re offering…Trying to collapse with dignity (and failing) into the tiny cockpit of the Aventador requires a deft limbo move under the carbon-fibre scissor door, before you slump into something that resembles a leather-lined stealth fighter cockpit. Carbon-fibre panels and switchgear abound – even the instrument cowling is a single piece of carbon-fibre scuplture.

The start button is hidden under a safety cover, looking for all the world like a missile launcher. Which, we guess, it kind of is.

A tap of the large paddle on the right of the wheel engages first, and we’re away, after a jerky hesitation that has me fearing of spearing straight into the rear of the pace car we’ll be chasing.

The long, fast track is wet in all the wrong places, but the all-wheel-drive system and the electronic nannies in Strada (or road) mode keep the 544kW and 690Nm in good order. Soon, we’re exploring the thick end of 240km/h on approach into a sodden turn one, with the car’s new all-wheel-steer system working away underneath to keep Pirelli and track connected.

The Aventador is big in every way there’s a lot of mass over your shoulder, there’s a great expanse of bonnet ahead, and there’s a lot of noise assaulting you, too. The road mode, though, provides a modicum of civility – right down to zealously guarding its gearbox against early downshifts on track. There’s still plenty of theatre there, though.

A second session on a drying circuit sees us aboard a car with Alcantara sports seats and even more carbon-fibre (it’s worth mentioning that carbon ceramic brakes are standard fitment), and more importantly, a drive mode selector set in Corsa mode.

There are more revs, more noise, more slip angle, more of everything that you’d expect from a Lamborghini V12 on song and unfettered. Right around peak torque of 5500rpm, the Aventador feels like an unstoppable force of mechanical nature, as the large car flows impossibly quickly from apex to apex, necks aching from the effort of holding on.

Another thing that’s giving you a battering is the shifts from the gearbox compared to the dual-clutch unit in the Huracan, for example, the eight-speed single-clutcher in the Aventador feels like it’s a million years old.

Smooth shifts under load are impossible, and such is the jolt between shifts, the rear of the car would make a break for the front if you were foolish enough to try it mid-corner. It’s a frustrating barrier to completely being able to access what could be a truly life-changing machine.

Our all too brief time is up, and while we can’t comment on the suitability of the new Aventador S on the road yet, a brief glimpse into its upper envelope of performance has us very keen to find out.

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