Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Coupe £356,000
WE SAY: THE THIRD LAMBO TO WEAR THE JOTA BADGE HAS MUCH TO LIVE UP TO. THANK GOODNESS THE JOB’S A GOOD ’UN
“The Aventador SVJ is the most extreme version, featuring the most powerful V12 Lamborghini has ever created.” And there were we thinking the Aventador SV was on the outer margins of extreme. Let’s start with the name. SV, Super Veloce, we’re familiar with, but J-for-Jota? That has only ever graced two cars previously: the Miura P400 Jota and the Diablo SE30 Jota.
It refers to section J of the FIA homologation rule book that Lamborghini pored over when trying to take the legendary Miura racing. So, in case you hadn’t guessed, SVJ means faster and even more track-focused.
Faster first. The 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 now has titanium intake valves and modified cylinder heads for an extra 20bhp. The flywheel has been lightened to improve throttle response and the engine now red-lines at 8,700rpm. The single-clutch sequential gearbox has been reprogrammed to optimise shift times.
Now track-focused. Anti-roll bar stiffness has been increased by 50 per cent over the SV and there are bespoke Pirelli tyres. And despite the addition of rear-wheel steering and active aero, the SVJ has actually lost 50kg (lighter exhaust, more carbon, lighter wheels) over the standard Aventador. Zero to 124mph takes 8.6secs, a lap of the ’Ring just 6:44.97 – that’s a production car lap record, two seconds faster than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS and a full 15 ahead of the SV.
It’s down to the aero. The SVJ features ALA2 (Aerodynamic Lamborghini Attiva 2), a development of the system first seen on the Huracan Performanté. Air is channelled under and along the sides of the car via two active flaps in the front splitter, while the huge rear wing harnesses the airflow through the central pylon and feeds it to either side, increasing downforce on the inside wheel by up to 30 per cent. Overall downforce is up 40 per cent over the SV.
The naturally aspirated V12 in the SVJ is worth the price of entry alone. In a supercar market now dominated by turbos, the SVJ’s soundtrack takes your breath away, as does the performance, which is rabid and allconsuming. The gearbox is improved, but still not on a par with a twin-clutch for shift speed and smoothness. Upshifts in maxattack Corsa mode have the same violent punch as in the SV, and can occasionally be too intrusive, upsetting the balance of the car. Downshifts are better, not least because they’re accompanied by an artillery barrage of pops and crackles.
Other criticisms? The brake pedal is a little soft and doesn’t inspire confidence when braking from the high speeds (178mph) we were seeing at Estoril, but that’s about it, really. Because this is an Aventador transformed. Turn-in to slow corners is aided by the new rear-wheel steer, giving the whole car a more agile feel, and getting back on the throttle mid-corner sees the AWD behave more precisely to keep the nose on line as you exit. And at higher speeds it’s just so much
more planted and stable. The biggest gain of all, and one that inspires confidence.
And if you do over-commit (not easy, given how boisterous, demanding and charismatic the SVJ is), you’ll find it’s more predictable and exploitable than you might expect.
The cabin features one-piece carbon-fibre race seats (the best Lambo has done for a while) and a revised-graphic TFT screen that incorporates ALA data and Anima settings. It all helps to give this eight-year-old supercar a fresh feel. But it still delivers the proper supercar experience. Nothing feels like an Aventador: from the intimidatingly narrow windscreen to a rear-view mirror now rammed full of wing, every view is designed to deliver drama.
Lamborghini will build 900 SVJs with prices starting at £356,000, plus a further 63 limited editions featuring visible carbon fibre and painted livery to honour the company’s founding in 1963. Those are £440,000 a piece. And yes, a roadster will follow in early 2019.
The SVJ delivers drama better than just about anything else, but backs that up with extra professionalism. It spikes every sense, backs up the aggression with real capability, offers up its potential easily and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a proper supercar, but better balances thrills against the science of speed. And it fully justifies the Jota badge.
6498cc, V12, 4WD, 759bhp, 531lb ft 14.4mpg, 452g/km CO 0–62mph in 2.8secs, 217mph 1525kg (dry)
VERDICT: Lamborghini has applied science to the swansong of its most charismatic supercar. The results are dramatic.