Ital­ian thor­ough­bred’s un­usual set-up has its pros and cons

Evo - - 4WD MEGATEST -

IN SOME WAYS, THE AVEN­TA­DOR IS ide­ally con­fig­ured for the ad­di­tion of drive to the front axle. Since the Coun­tach, Lam­borgh­ini has used the un­usual lay­out of hav­ing the V12 mid-mounted, but rather than hav­ing the gear­box be­yond it at the very rear of the car, it is in front, pok­ing into the trans­mis­sion tun­nel.

This has its pros: masses are more cen­trally lo­cated, and the man­ual gearshift – when there was one – went di­rectly into the gear­box rather than by re­mote link­age. There are cons too: me­chan­i­cal com­plex­ity, ad­di­tional hard­ware and weight. There is an ex­tra pro, though: you can very eas­ily take a prop­shaft off the end of the gear­box to take drive to the front wheels.

In the ear­li­est all-wheel-drive Lam­borgh­ini (not count­ing the LM001), the Di­ablo VT, torque was de­liv­ered to the front dif­fer­en­tial via a vis­cous cou­pling, a de­vice that be­gan work­ing only when slip was de­tected. The Aven­ta­dor has per­ma­nent, con­stantly vari­able four-wheel drive, the front: rear torque split based on what’s hap­pen­ing at the wheels and which drive mode is se­lected. The fit­ment of rear-steer­ing to the S, help­ing to ro­tate the car into turns, has helped in­crease the torque ca­pac­ity of the rear axle, so the split can be more rear-bi­ased than be­fore.

The cho­sen drive mode al­ters the de­fault torque split to suit the sort of driv­ing and roads that the se­lected mode is likely to be used for. In Strada (street), the sus­pen­sion is com­pli­ant and the all-wheel drive at its most front-bi­ased – 40:60, front:rear. Sport mode, in­tended for en­thu­si­as­tic road driv­ing, gives the great­est agility, us­ing a firmer damper set-up, rear-steer and a max­i­mum of 90 per cent of torque to the rear to de­liver agility and even a lit­tle over­steer be­fore sta­bil­ity con­trol in­ter­ven­tion.

Per­haps un­ex­pect­edly, more drive goes to the front wheels in Corsa (track) mode than in Sport, the as­sump­tion be­ing that on a cir­cuit the driver will want the fastest lap times and thus max­i­mum trac­tion. The dampers are wound up, the sta­bil­ity con­trol is backed off more, and the V12’s torque out­put is split 20:80 front:rear.

En­gine V12, 6498cc Power 730bhp @ 8400rpm Torque 509lb ft @ 5500rpm 0-62mph 2.9sec (claimed) Top speed 217mph (claimed) Weight (dry) 1575kg (471bhp/ ton) Ba­sic price £271,146 evo rat­ing

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