Tempus discovers the animal magnetism of the Lamborghini Aventador
We tame a fighting bull desperate to get out of the track
Ask any petrolhead to sketch a modern supercar and the result is likely to resemble Lamborghini’s evergreen Aventador. The dramatic wedge-shaped supercar has been with us since 2011, when it debuted at the Geneva Motor Show as a replacement for the Murciélago. Eight years on and we’ve arrived at the final iteration, and the last hurrah for this mighty fighting bull.
The flagship Aventador SVJ is the most extreme, sophisticated version yet, featuring the most powerful V12 ever produced by the iconic company at its dream factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese. SV stands for Super Veloce (Italian for ‘very fast’), while the J (or ‘Jota’) is Lamborghini’s way of denoting a race spec car.
As much a piece of automotive art as a motor car, the SVJ is an awesome sight. Long, low and wide, its blend of curves and sharp edges features a complex front spoiler, a spectacular rear wing, twin high-mounted exhausts and crowd-pleasing scissor doors. The SVJ is the pinnacle of aerodynamic design, minimising drag and improving downforce.
My introduction to the new Aventador took place on the roads of Sardinia; a memorable location to drive a true Italian thoroughbred. And this is an epic car in every sense. From its aggressive profile to the legendary growl of the V12, it’s a sensual delight. I lost count of the number of headlight flashes I received from oncoming cars, not to mention toots of the horn and waves from passersby.
Driving the SVJ is surprisingly straightforward. Once you’ve worked out how to open the doors, it’s just a case of lowering yourself down into the high-tech cockpit – a forest of carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara, switches, dials and digital displays. Press the start button and the 6.5-litre 760bhp monster behind your head erupts into life.
The SVJ is wider than the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, but you soon learn to compensate for the car’s vast width as well as the almost complete lack of rearwards visibility. And indeed, compared to a road car, the steering is heavy, the suspension rock hard and the seven-speed manual gearbox hardcore. However, it’s also blisteringly fast, so much so that within a few seconds you’ll find yourself hitting the national speed limit. Much like its closest rivals, the McLaren 720S and Ferrari 488, you really can only appreciate a fraction of the SVJ’s performance in legal limitations. >>
Its speed is no surprise. Apart from its official figures of 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 217mph, in 2018 it smashed the Nürburgring Nordschleife production car lap record. In fact, its best lap time of 6m 44.97s was a massive 2.27s faster than the previous holder (a Porsche GT2 RS).
Even driving on regular roads, it’s clear that the SVJ is special. Whichever drive mode you choose (Strada, Sport, Corsa, or the customisable EGO option) it never feels anything other than totally planted on the tarmac. Choosing your drive mode is just a question of how ferocious you like your Lambo. One thing’s for sure, if a barrage of pops and crackles puts a smile on your face, then downshifting in Sport is addictive.
There’s exceptional wheel grip and huge amounts of traction thanks to its four-wheel-drive system and clever computer wizardry, while the addition of four-wheel steering and active aerodynamics allows the SVJ to corner at astonishing speeds. In short, it’s seriously swift and fantastically engaging.
With a starting price of £360,000 the Aventador SVJ is an expensive toy. That said, just 900 will be built, along with 800 soft-top versions and 63 SVJ 63 special editions, so it will be a wise investment too.
The Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is a piece of pure automotive theatre, especially if you can take it out on track to experience its full potential. But here’s the thing: as a daily driver I’d recommend its little brother, the Huracán EVO, which starts at £206,000. Okay, it’s only got a V10 engine, but it’s more refined, comfortable and nimble on the road while still looking the part.