Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
The final Aventador is also the greatest one, full stop
TURNING up at a racetrack to flog the living daylights out of a 566 kw supercar constitutes a magnificent day at the office, but it also triggers a mild degree of trepidation. Particularly as we’ve just been informed the newly laid tarmac at Estoril Circuit in Portugal offers little in the way of grip. As yet, there’s no rubber laid down on the track and residual oil from the fresh asphalt has seeped to the surface under the hot sun.
But, what the heck, this is no ordinary supercar. This is Lamborghini’s brand-new Aventador SVJ (Super Veloce Jota). Super veloce is Italian for “super fast”, while jota is Spanish for the letter J, which is a reference to Appendix J, the FIA rulebook governing the preparation of road-based racecars. Lamborghini will build just 900 SVJS (priced from R9 483 006), and an additional 63 special editions with individually numbered plaques. The latter number commemorates the year Lamborghini was born: 1963.
The SVJ’S big claim to fame comes via a staggering 6:44,97 lap at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, making it the fastest production car around the daunting 20,6 km circuit, eclipsing the former record of 6:47,30 set by the Porsche 911 GT2 RS a few months earlier.
Beating the GT2 RS’ lap required every aspect of the Aventador, including chassis, drivetrain and aero, to be fettled. For starters, the SVJ’S mighty, free-spinning 6,5-litre V12 was reworked for better breathing via titanium intake valves, redesigned cylinder heads and reshaped intake runners. It also scores a new lightweight exhaust system with two large pipes exiting
halfway up the rear facia to mimic extreme motorbikes’. Apart from reducing backpressure, the other payoff with the new exhaust is a sonic signature that makes the hairs on your neck stand on end. It’s bloodcurdlingly lovely.
The SVJ also gets 50% stiffer anti-roll bars than the already hardcore Aventador SV, while its bespoke lightweight rims are shod with specially developed Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres. That said, an extra spend gets you the Kevlar-reinforced Trofeo R boots (as used by the Nürburgring record breaker) that can withstand the huge loads from a sustained thrashing on a long, fast, high-downforce circuit such as the Nordschleife.
It’s in downforce where the SVJ really makes its gains, thanks to a massive fixed rear wing, aggressive two-plane splitter, air-channelling vents in the top of the nose and winglets on the front corners which smooth the airflow down the flanks and channel more air to the radiator intakes. All these add up to an extra 40% of downforce compared to the bewinged Aventador SV.
But the real trick is version 2.0 of the clever ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva) active aero wizardry that enabled the Huracán Performante to claim ’Ring King status last year. The principle is exactly the same this time round. There are a pair of ducts – opened and closed by small electric motors – at the front and rear of the car, and the job of these is to either stall (i.e. cancel out the downforce) the front splitter and rear wing, or allow air to flow as normal across these to generate maximum downforce.
So, on the straights the ducts stall the aero addenda for a speed-enhancing low-drag setup; the instant you hit the brakes, it reverts to high-downforce mode to stabilise the car. The piece de resistance is aero vectoring, which stalls the outside half of the rear wing when cornering. Meanwhile, maximum downforce is applied to the inner half, helping the car turn into the bend. It’s the same principle
as torque vectoring, just using airflow rather than braking the inside wheels.
All great in theory, but what does the Aventador SVJ actually feel like out in the real world? Gobsmacking. It’s a playful and entertaining brute that devours straights and virtually defies physics with its ability to carry enormous cornering speeds, even on a super-slippery Estoril.
A big part of the Lambo’s appeal lies in that epic V12. Which other engine offers so much grunt down low, yet sings its way to 8 700 r/min with such joyful ease? The addition of the free-flow exhaust to the SVJ has made it an even more sonorous motor (especially in corsa mode), with a banshee-like wail in the upper half of its rev band and flame-spitting visual drama. But what really separates the SVJ from past Aventadors is the confidence with which you can work up to its (or your own) limits. Even with that big lump of a V12 at the back, the car has great balance and there’s a newfound adjustability. Dive into a corner too hot? No problem: a little lift of the throttle or light dab on the brakes instantly gets the nose tucked in.
The massive carbon-ceramic stoppers are progressive and offer good pedal feel, inspiring confidence to stand on them as late as possible even at the end of the pit straight at Estoril, with the speedo reading in excess of 280 km/h. The car squirms noticeably under full retardation but there’s never a nagging concern the V12-laden rear-end will overtake the rest of the car.
Limitations? The Aventador SVJ is by no means flawless. The ISR gearbox might be hugely improved but it’s still not a patch on the latest-generation dual-clutches offered in Ferraris/ Porsches/mclarens. And the cabin is still compromised in the extreme. Anyone over 1,8 metres tall will find their headroom restricted, while the fixed-back seats in the SVJ are fine for a brief thrash around a racetrack. However, they’d be backache material after a few hours on the road. Rear and lateral visibility were never good in the original Aventador but the SVJ’S massive wing pretty much nullifies whatever view existed out back.
On the plus side, Lamborghini’s engineers have extracted every last iota of dynamic potential from the Aventador for the SVJ. It’s a fitting swansong, sending the model off with panache before an all-new replacement arrives in two years or so. A true Raging Bull great.
clockwise from below Cockpit is pure drama; you’ll want that powertrain setting in corsa...; Lambo hasn’t been shy with SVJ signage; is there another vehicle this side of a hypercar that looks this outlandish?; simple digital instruments; firing up one of the great V12s is a spine-tingling affair.
from left Fixed rear wing adds notably to the SVJ’S ground-hugging aerodynamics; inlets on nose channel air to the radiators; new lightweight exhaust system exits halfway up the rear-end; ducts open and close to influence air flow; cab-forward layout allows enough space for the V12.