LAMBORGHINI AVENTADOR S
The original Lamborghini Aventador, introduced in 2011, was a problematic car for some. The styling was extreme to the extreme; far more polarizing than the simpler lines of the Gallardo and its successor, the Huracan. For anyone seeking to slip through town unannounced, it was not a suitable response.
Of course, the Aventador also had its strengths.
Straight-line performance was undeniable, the kind of thing that can happen when you have a naturally aspirated 6.5L V12 and a thundering 700 horsepower at your disposal. But things became less certain when corners were thrown into the mix. The car required the patience of Job before all that considerable power could be sent towards the ground for fear of skating off into the weeds, front wheels scrambling for grip.
The original Aventador was, essentially, a supersports car far too fast for the average public road and too unwieldy for the typical track day. To a large degree, all of this changed with the release of the Aventador SV in 2015.
This limited-edition version took the strengths of the original — namely, its power and the traction coming from the AWD system — and magnified them to extract world-beating levels of performance. The V12 was massaged to deliver a further 50 horsepower. The weight of the car was reduced by some 50 kg. Improved aerodynamics, better brake cooling and a fixed rear wing, meanwhile, addressed the less than stellar track-worthy characteristics of the Aventador.
Now, we have the introduction of the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S, a refreshed take on the original that takes almost all of the lessons learned from the SV into account. The main difference
between the Aventador SV and the Aventador S is this: The former is absolutely designed for track duty; the latter is just the starting point upon which an even faster and more focused Lamborghini will undoubtedly emerge.
Side note: All of the Lamborghini nomenclature relating to the position of the engine, horsepower rating and number of driven wheels is going out the door, as per the direction of new CEO Stefano Domenicali. Under the former system, this supersports car would be called the Lamborghini Aventador LP 740-4; instead, the brand is moving towards simpler designations.
As you may have guessed by the above note, the Aventador S now boasts 740 horsepower, 40 up from the original, 10 less than the SV. The engine has also been recalibrated to deliver torque higher in the rev range and it now has an 8500-rpm redline. A new muffler makes the sonorous V12 even more intimidating.
The Aventador S stops the clock in the sprint to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, one-tenth slower than the SV. Top speed lands somewhere north of 350 km/h. Shifts are managed through the ISR automated manual, the same gearbox as the original, slightly
optimized for better performance. The ISR is nowhere near as slick as the dual-clutch automatic of the Huracan, but it also gives away nothing in terms of sheer drama. There are other improvements to report. The refreshed look of the latest Aventador is punctuated by a new front splitter, new rear diffuser and new active rear wing with three positions. These measures are aided by an underbody vortex generator that helps cool the rear brakes. All told, the new design generates 130% more downforce, 50% more aerodynamic efficiency and improved engine cooling.
The AWD system automatically distributes the torque from the front wheels to the back. Under normal driving conditions, the torque split is 40/60 front-to-back; this ratio can go to 10/90 front-to-back under hard acceleration. To bring speeds back down to Earth, the Aventador S comes standard with a carbon-ceramic brake package (400 mm discs at the front, 380 mm discs at the back.) There is also a revised Magnaride suspension system, new damper control strategy, updated rear suspension kinematics and new Pirelli P Zero tires.
But the headline-stealer here is the use, for the first time on an Aventador, of a 4-wheel steering system. At low speeds, the rear wheels angle in the opposite direction of the front wheels, effectively reducing the wheelbase and creating sharper response in tight corners. At higher speeds, all four wheels angle in the same direction, delivering improved high-speed stability. The engineers responsible for the Lamborghini Rearwheel Steering System (LRS) say that this approach allows drivers to “steer in the perfect way with the perfect brain.”
To give attendees the opportunity to feel the full impact of all these changes, we were jetted over to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo outside Valencia. This track, used by the F1 teams for testing, has some interesting qualities, but not all of them played to the car's strengths. Around the corners, the Aventador S proved that it was close to the SV in terms of handling prowess and sheer unbridled fun; the debilitating understeer of the original Aventador had been banished.
The car also revealed itself to be incredibly stable, even when piloted across the track's many curbs or through the small puddles that remained from an earlier rainstorm. The three driving modes found on the original Aventador have been joined by a fourth here, ominously dubbed “Ego.” This is a customizable mode that lets the driver choose different settings for the engine, transmission and suspension.
For maximum drifting action, the intermediate mode (dubbed “Sport”) is actually the better choice because it sends more torque to the back; for outright lap times, “Corsa” is the best bet. After some 20 ragged laps surrounded by drivers of varying skill sets, one aspect of the Aventador S that shone through the most was how easy it was to drive at speed. For example, if a sudden change of direction is needed when the driver ahead takes a completely unexpected, 11th-hour line through a corner, it's no problem at all.
Of course, with 740 rampaging horses under foot, the latest Lamborghini easily manhandled the long front straight and the track's shorter bursts. The ISR The long sweeping left-hander that fed directly into the last corner on the track revealed the car's incredible stability. If there was one area where the Aventador S did not impress, it was the feeling of the brakes.
Although there was never a moment where the brakes seemed on the verge of fading, they did not possess the same feeling on initial application as the Aventador SV. According to the engineers, this was entirely down to software differences — the SV was designed for full-time track duty, while the S needed to have more of a dual personality and brakes that would respond without feeling like a parachute had been deployed. Without a doubt, the Aventador S is pliable enough for everyday driving demands, although it's debatable as to whether the average owner would log a lot of miles on city streets.
In the final analysis, the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S is certainly an improvement on the original — and it definitely sets the stage for even greater performances down the road.