Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor SVJ

A 759bhp V12 in the an­gri­est Aven­ta­dor. In the snow. Only the ex­ple­tives in the cabin are louder...

Top Gear (UK) - - WELCOME -

“It’d be eas­ier to thread the Lam­borgh­ini through the eye of a nee­dle than drive it up here”

As we creep to­wards the 50th an­niver­sary of The Ital­ian Job, it’s a tru­ism that parts of this beau­ti­ful but ul­ti­mately un­know­able coun­try are in­di­vis­i­ble from the Quincy Jones sound­track. Let’s ig­nore for now that it doesn’t end well for the man in the or­ange Lam­borgh­ini Miura in the film’s open­ing se­quence.

The Aven­ta­dor SVJ pulses with Miura DNA, not least in its 6.5-litre V12, the noise of which is rea­son enough to make it a 2018 TopGear award-win­ner, although this is also the most pow­er­ful V12 Lam­borgh­ini has ever made. The Boss (Char­lie Turner, not Bruce Spring­steen) self­lessly vol­un­teered to col­lect the SVJ from Sant’Agata, and many miles and hours later fol­low­ing a ren­dezvous near Turin, he’s sit­ting along­side me ri­fling through his iPhone for ‘On Days Like These’. Soon Matt Monro’s swoon­some croon is fill­ing the Lam­borgh­ini’s cabin.

Char­lie, who picked to­day’s route, has a great sense of hu­mour. We’re on the SS36, head­ing north to­wards the Swiss bor­der and the Passo dello Spluga – or Splü­gen Pass, if you pre­fer – an Alpine road that un­furls it­self in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion at an el­e­va­tion of al­most 7,000ft. Google it and you’re taken di­rect to a dan­ger­ous roads web­site.

Dan­ger? I’ll give you dan­ger. Dan­ger is lis­ten­ing to the dif­fer­en­tial whine on a £360,000 Lam­borgh­ini on full lock in first gear on a road so twisty it seems to be feast­ing on it­self, while the fog and rain bat­tle each other for supremacy in the ‘who’s more el­e­men­tal?’ weather stakes. And, yes, that’s def­i­nitely snow out there, so we’d bet­ter fac­tor that in as well, and crank the demist­ing up to 11 while we’re at it. The SVJ’s A-pil­lars, mean­while, are so thick they al­most go to Z. There’s so lit­tle for­ward vis­i­bil­ity (rear vis­i­bil­ity on the Aven­ta­dor is a mean­ing­less con­cept, re­gard­less of the weather) that Char­lie has re­sorted to giv­ing me pace notes. It would be eas­ier to thread the Lam­borgh­ini through the eye of a nee­dle than drive it up here. Mean­while TG’s in­de­fati­ga­ble Rowan Horncastle fol­lows be­hind in our Fiat 500L hire car, main­tain­ing a Loeb-like pace com­pared with mine. What­evs. The murk­i­ness means that we have no idea how steep the drops are, so it could be worse.

It gets worse. We make it to the top, and du­ti­fully lift the Lambo’s nose to clear the slush as we peel off the road and splash to­wards our ho­tel. It’s 22:30. The al­bergo shim­mers like a mi­rage though the gloom, not quite as fore­bod­ing as the Over­look Ho­tel in The Shin­ing, but not far off it. The front door is un­locked, but the re­cep­tion is shut. We dial the num­ber and lis­ten as it rings off the hook. I scam­per up the stairs, try­ing ev­ery door. Only one is open, and the low light re­veals clothes strewn about the place. Signs of life but no one’s home.

Back in the hall­way, I rum­mage through a cup­board look­ing for some blan­kets, and turn up a de­flated foot­ball and a sin­gle padded glove. Char­lie, mean­while, has found an­other ho­tel a few miles back down the road we’ve just as­cended. You know what? We’ll take it.

The Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor is not a car in need of ex­tra drama, but in the SVJ Sant’Agata has some­how found some

tucked away in a cor­ner. De­spite hav­ing driven and con­quered a few over the years – in­clud­ing on a Speed Week around Cler­mont-Fer­rand in 2013 – the mo­ment you first climb aboard an Aven­ta­dor sends ev­ery child­hood mem­ory you have of a big, hir­sute, mid-en­gined Ital­ian su­per­car gal­lop­ing straight into your cere­bral cor­tex. Isn’t this ex­actly how it should be? Scary, stupid, sen­sa­tional. The doors scythe up. The sills are wide and awk­ward. The driv­ing po­si­tion, although much bet­ter than it used to be, still takes some get­ting used to. The trans­mis­sion makes its way past your el­bows in a tun­nel that’s about as wide as the one that bur­rows un­der the River Thames in Rother­hithe. The wind­screen is vast, and sweeps down to­wards a nose whose ex­trem­i­ties you can’t see. As for the view be­hind… fugged­aboutit. At least there’s a re­vers­ing cam­era now, although if you’re like me, you still won’t trust what you can’t see with your own eyes.

Sim­i­larly, your first few miles in the SVJ will be as fal­ter­ing as Bambi’s first steps. There is so much to take in, and you don’t un­cork 759bhp un­til you know how much and what sort of fizz there is. From past ex­pe­ri­ence, I’m not cer­tain there’s a road in Europe long enough to let the Aven­ta­dor prop­erly pop its cork, never mind that the SVJ now red-lines at 8,700rpm and is torquier at the top end. Test drives were con­ducted on the cir­cuit at Es­to­ril, where the car was re­port­edly do­ing 170mph at the end of the pit straight. Sheesh. Not to men­tion the new pro­duc­tion­car lap record set at some track in Ger­many ev­ery­one’s al­ways bang­ing on about (6:44.97). Yes, Lam­borgh­ini has thrown ev­ery­thing at the SVJ. And some more be­sides.

Which makes the edict from the of­fice to go north to the Alpine snow line ad­ven­tur­ous, to say the least. That route also in­volves a lot of sig­nif­i­cant tun­nel ac­tion, which is a great way to ex­plore the full band­width of the SVJ’s 7.1 sur­round sound ex­pe­ri­ence. Bring the noise.

But first, the rush hour. That might sound like hell on earth, but even this elas­tic ebb and flow is some­how spe­cial in a car like this. It’s de­lib­er­ately over­cooked in­side, much like the ex­te­rior, but mostly works sur­pris­ingly well, de­spite some no­table idio­syn­cra­sies. The graph­ics on the main in­stru­ment dis­play – in­clud­ing a graphic for the ac­tive aero – are too bright, and the MMI is pre­his­toric Audi. There’s nowhere to stash your phone, so you rest it on the cen­tral screen where it heats up nicely and ob­scures the dis­play. But at least it’s next to the elec­tric win­dow switches, be­cause that’s the ob­vi­ous place to put them. And you push to lower the win­dows, not pull. The sin­gle-shell car­bon-fi­bre seats are fab­u­lous, though.

What is SVJ? Su­per Ve­loce Jota, which ba­si­cally means re­ally f**king fast. Ap­par­ently Jota also ref­er­ences Ap­pen­dix J of the FIA rule book, back when the Miura was be­ing ho­molo­gated for rac­ing, but imag­ine us­ing a rule book for in­spi­ra­tion… (Coun­tach is a Pied­mon­tese pro­fan­ity, a fact I re­cently dou­ble-checked with an ac­tual Pied­mon­tese per­son. Surely it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore they launch the Lam­borgh­ini Stronzo.)

So to the en­gine. It is part of a blood­line back to the Miura, but now has ti­ta­nium in­let valves, its in­nards op­er­ate with re­duced fric­tion, and there’s a lighter fly­wheel for even sharper throt­tle re­sponse. The SVJ’s ul­ti­mate torque fig­ure, 531lb ft, is reached at 6,700rpm, 1,250rpm higher than on the lazy old SV.


Tight cor­ner, stone wall, wet road, big drop. Not the time for a ‘hold my fag’ mo­ment Snow, fog, rain, ru­ined moun­tain roads. Per­fect driv­ing con­di­tions for a £356k, 759bhp Lambo, then This is what the Aven­ta­dor’s flame-throw­ers look like without flames. Bor­ing

I don’t care how flash you are – if your name’s not on the list, you’re not com­ing in

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