Af­ter six years, Aven­ta­dor has only be­come bet­ter

Track Test: 2017 Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor S

The Welland Tribune - - DRIVING - DEREK MCNAUGHTON and NEIL VO­RANO DRIV­ING.CA

With a more nim­ble chas­sis and four-wheel steer­ing, this Ital­ian su­per­car is now even more thrilling around a cir­cuit

Neil Vo­rano and Derek McNaughton drove the 2017 Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor S at Cal­abo­gie Mo­tor­sports Park near Ottawa, in what can only be de­scribed as a life-al­ter­ing mo­ment for both men. Here are some of their ob­ser­va­tions about the 730-horse­power, $550,000-plus car.

DM: You’ve got to hand it to Lam­borgh­ini. When the au­to­mo­tive world is squeez­ing more juice from smaller dis­place­ment en­gines and adding tur­bos to make up for the loss in dis­place­ment, Lam­borgh­ini says “eff that — let’s stuff the big­gest, bad­dest engine we can into an Aven­ta­dor.” When most bat­tal­ions are in re­treat, here’s the Aven­ta­dor hold­ing its ground, say­ing “we will never sur­ren­der, long live the V12!”

NV: And also, Derek, in this world of ever-in­creas­ing fuel economies, faux off-road­ing fam­ily SUVs and in­creas­ing flux of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing fea­tures, I’m glad there will al­ways be a place for mad, mad cars that make no sense other than for pure — and out­ra­geous — driv­ing plea­sure. This Aven­ta­dor S is cer­tainly one of those.

DM: In­san­ity might be an apt de­scrip­tion for this car be­cause, re­ally, the only place it can be truly driven is on the race track. It re­minds me a lit­tle of the big-block Chev­elle I had years ago — which cost me my driver’s li­cence from so many burnouts — it has so much horse­power, so much raw­ness, there’s no safe way to drive it on the street. All that power is just too tempt­ing for even the most strong­willed driver. In a way, like you say, it’s the Euro­pean equiv­a­lent of the 840-hp Dodge De­mon: it’s crazy, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it doesn’t have to, ev­ery­one still lusts af­ter it. And lust never sleeps. In­ter­est­ingly, the De­mon runs from zero to 60 mph in 1.9 sec­onds, the Aven­ta­dor takes 2.9.

NV: Oh, the track is cer­tainly where you want to drive the Aven­ta­dor. Make no mis­take, this isn’t meant to be the fastest car around the track; it’s lit­tle brother, the Hu­racán Per­for­mante with “just” 631 hp, beats it around the Nür­bur­gring hands down, and so would a Porsche 911 Turbo. But none of that mat­ters when you climb in (and I do mean “climb in,” con­sid­er­ing the con­tor­tions needed to fit through the door hole) and fire up the engine in the pit lane, be­cause it’s like strap­ping into the space shut­tle and wait­ing for blast off.

DM: So true. In fact, I think this is the first time in a car that I felt slightly afraid. An­gling into the seat, this wild ar­ray of con­trols un­folds as if in­side some alien craft. Flip the red cover to the ig­ni­tion but­ton, light the engine and the ex­plo­sion that erupts con­firms you are flirt­ing with some po­ten­tially se­ri­ous dan­ger here. Yet, when un­der­way, the ex­cite­ment that en­sues only en­cour­ages more speed. You’re right, this wouldn’t be the weapon I would choose in a track fight, but the raw­ness and pu­rity of the per­for­mance makes up for “slower” lap times. It’s the first time I re­al­ized why some­one would spend so much for an Aven­ta­dor when they could buy two 911 GT3s or 911 Tur­bos for the same money.

NV: Oh, it’s raw, all right. That engine screams and the power pushes you to your seat. Tak­ing that wide first cor­ner at Cal­abo­gie re­ally shows the grip of those huge P355/25ZR21 rear tires, but it’s the sec­ond cor­ner that shows how much fun this car is: hard brak­ing and throw­ing it into the right-han­der, you can make the car wig­gle with the throt­tle, or take a four-wheel slide around the apex and then ham­mer it out. Now, with its four­wheel steer­ing, you can feel the car ro­tate around you, and there’s far less un­der­steer than what the orig­i­nal Aven­ta­dor brought to the ta­ble. There’s a lot more move­ment around ev­ery cor­ner, move­ment that you can con­trol not just with the steer­ing but with the throt­tle, and that’s big fun.

DM: So true. I drove a 2014 Aven­ta­dor at this track and it felt heavy and some­what un­wieldy. It was hard to find rhythm and joy in that car. It was good, but it wasn’t sen­sa­tional, even if it was the son of Coun­tach. This car is truly dif­fer­ent, a car that be­fits the word sen­sa­tional. While I did find the rear gets a lit­tle squir­relly un­der the hard­est brak­ing, the steer­ing is far live­lier and more on point. No doubt that four-wheel steer­ing helps, but the AWD setup is bet­ter too. In Sport mode, 90 per cent of the torque goes to the rear wheels; in Corsa mode where we had it, only 80 per cent of the V12’s max­i­mum 509 pound-feet of torque goes rear­ward. Still, even here, the S ex­ited some cor­ners in mag­i­cal AWD drifts, pulling and push­ing with grace. Un­for­tu­nately, that ate the tires, but, holy, was it a hoot. There’s now an Ego mode as well, al­low­ing the driver to mix and match, but Sport and Corsa work so well it seems un­nec­es­sary. Best to leave “ego” at the door.

NV: What I love that hasn’t changed from the orig­i­nal Aven­ta­dor is the trans­mis­sion; in­stead of a dual-clutch af­fair, it has but one clutch for all its seven for­ward gears. Of course, a du­al­clutch is smoother and shifts a hair faster, but it doesn’t give you the wal­lop that this box does when it shifts. Un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion, the engine revs higher and higher, the car goes faster and faster, then there’s a short pause, al­most a calm­ness. Then, boom! The car punches into gear and goes wig­gly for a mil­lisec­ond, and then you’re pushed back into the seat with the force. It’s like a cir­cus ride, all in less than a sec­ond.

DM: Pulling on a pad­dle shifter at 8,500 rpm and feel­ing that punch is in­deed pro­found, not bru­tal. But I also liked that, in Corsa mode, the trans­mis­sion did ev­ery­thing for me, ex­actly when I wanted, much like Porsche’s PDK. It al­lowed me to fo­cus on steer­ing and point­ing the car and hit­ting the apexes cor­rectly and go­ing faster than my tal­ent al­lowed. I don’t think I’ve ever been as fast around Cal­abo­gie in my life, but it came with an ex­hil­a­ra­tion, con­fi­dence and thrill that has also never been matched be­fore. This car has a truly in­spir­ing soul. It is pas­sion­ate about de­liv­er­ing it. And it couldn’t be bet­ter look­ing.

NV: When it de­buted more than six years ago, the Aven­ta­dor im­me­di­ately be­came one of my favourite cars to drive on track. And now, with a re­vised chas­sis, AWD and four-wheel steer­ing, it’s only got­ten bet­ter.

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