At 78m a second on the straight, this is one bullish sports car
YOU don’t need a cape or a sword to drive the Aventador. Like the matadors who challenge the Spanish fighting bulls after which the Lamborghini is named, you will need hefty cojones, not least to sign the $761,500 cheque to pay for one.
That’s not to say Lamborghini’s 6.5-litre V12powered supercar is hard to steer — all-wheel drive ensures it is almost half-domesticated in the default “Strada” mode.
It is, however, about as practical as a three-legged pair of pants (though if the rest of the anatomy is in proportion to the cojones ... Sorry). That lack of practicality is part of the Lamborghini provenance — this is a car that doesn’t just massage the ego, it pummels you with looks that stop traffic and performance that leaves said traffic behind.
Lamborghini has three brand pillars — extreme, uncompromising and Italian.
It would be futile to apply our normal test criteria to this vehicle, so we’ll assess it on that tripartite basis.
The Aventador LP700-4 is more than two metres wide, uses fuel at an official rate of 16.0L/100km (good luck seeing that figure) and tops 100km/h just 2.9 seconds after launch.
No point playing with such potential on Australian roads, which is why a coupe and roadster are rolled out on to Victoria’s Phillip Island track.
Experts then lead us out on to the circuit — they are too smart to sit inside the cockpit with motoring journalists, proving that even race car drivers have some sense of selfpreservation.
A lap later I can understand why. I’m told speeds reached 280km/h down the front straight. That’s 78m a second — fast enough to induce your glands to secrete all manner of hormones and fixate the eyeballs on more significant sights outside the windscreen. Like braking markers and turnin points.
The carbon-ceramic brake discs are 400mm in diameter on the front wheels, gripped by sixpiston calipers. A set of 380mm discs relies on four-piston pressure at the rear.
Between those points is a carbon-fibre monocoque weighing just 147kg, F1-style pushrod suspension, custom Pirelli tyres and signature scissor doors.
Oh yeah, and the bellowing V12 mounted just aft of the seats shows a manic willingness to spin to its stratospheric 8250rpm redline. The accompanying mechanical howl resonates with our inner revhead as a fitting aural accompaniment to the stealthfighter looks.
That engine cranks out 515kW/690Nm via a sevenspeed single-clutch automatic transmission with paddle-shift manual mode and Haldex allwheel drive.
There are three control settings that progressively dial up the ferocity and responsiveness of the drivetrain. Strada keeps everything on a tight electronic rein for daily duties; Sport tightens up accelerator and steering response, encourages the Haldex setup to send more torque rearward and clears the exhausts’ throats; Corsa unleashes 50-millisecond, chassis-jarring gearchanges with every flick of the paddleshifters, dials back the stability control threshold and puts the Haldex in attack mode. There’s nothing conventional about owning a Lamborghini. It is, after all, an Italian car company with model names derived from Spanish fighting bulls and owned by a German auto juggernaut.
Hexagonal honeycombs help define the origami-sharp edges and gaping vents that make up the Aventador — there are reputed to be more than 1000 hexagons throughout the two-seat supercar.
When stationary, it exudes the latent menace of military hardware. With practice it is even possible to maintain a semblance of decorum while sliding in and down into the deep bucket seats.
The red cover over the starter button is pure theatrical drama, as is the pause and the starter-motor whirr before the V12 snarls into action. Engage first gear and the drama is now dictated by right-pedal pressure. The Aventador scrabbles off the line as if being launched off an aircraft carrier. In Sport mode with the auto engaged, there’s an engineeredin pause between shifts to collect your wits before the acceleration tsunami resumes.
Switch to manual and the shifts are crisper but no less of a sensory jolt. The brakes are brutal and show no sign of fade after a day’s track work.
The steering is hefty but the driver can still feel feedback from the massively wide Pirellis. The car sits flat and unfussed under intense lateral loads.
As good as the suspension feels on the billiard-smooth bitumen at Phillip Island, Carsguide suspects the ultra- stiff setup will be less rewarding on potholed public roads — the Aventador jiggled on tiny bumps on the way in to the pits.
Ostentatious and loud, the Aventador is an automotive show bride. If you’ve got it, strut it and the Lambo struts as few cars can, especially on a track where the Raging Bull can show its true pace.
Peek-a-door: Duff grins from the passenger seat; behind the wheel, his lips puckered