Ignition - - Front Page - By Mark Hack­ing

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.

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