Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 review (2012 onwards)
What: Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
Where: Hertfordshire, UK
Date: March 2012
Key rivals:Ferrari FF, Mercedes SLS AMG, Bugatti Veyron, Pagani Zonda
Summary: the Aventador is Lamborghini's latest halo supercar, reinterpreted for the 21st century with high-tech goodies and a brand-new V12 engine that offers all the performance you could need... and then some.
We like: shocking performance, brutal noise, beautiful-but-aggressive styling, handling
We don't like: harsh ride, heat from engine in cockpit, almost too fast for the road
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One-off Lamborghini Aventador J convertible
You hear the numbers but can't quite comprehend them: 700hp. 62mph in 2.9 seconds. 100mph in a smite over six. A top speed of 217mph.
And then comes the reality check - the Aventador costs £242,280 and will cost as much to run as a small country like Liechtenstein.
Lamborghini claims the Aventador is completely new, starting with a clean sheet of paper and ending up with the vivid orange, black-wheeled, jutted angles monster you see here.
named after a Spanish bull
But some things never change. The Aventador might be a brand new, clean slate machine, but a bulging vein of Lamborghini history courses through it, from its name (Aventador after a particularly heroic Spanish fighting bull) to its propulsion system (a V12, naturally aspirated, of course).
However, this is merely a rudimentary hark back to the past because aside from the historical trimmings is a car that Lamborghini reckons is two generations ahead of anything else on sale.
This is only the second V12 the company has ever created. The first V12 was built nearly 50 years ago and famously powered the Miura and, in various tunes and sizes, went on to form the backbone of the Countach, the Diablo and the Murcielago.
And what a V12 it is. You've already heard the stats, but they don't reveal the brute force of this 6.5-litre engine, slung just ahead of the rear wheels for near-perfect weight distribution.
Only a mad man would jump into a car like the Aventador and immediately nail it. To do so would be like getting out of a Cessna and into the cockpit of a Eurofighter. The performance is astounding and takes you by surprise not just after the first couple of attempts of foot-to-the-floor acceleration but every time you do it.
you drive on your senses
You are accompanied by a severe kick in the kidneys and all your reactions are primed on recalibrating your brain to compute the insane forward movement. You daren't take your eyes off the road to look at the speedo or the rev counter either - this is a car you drive instinctively using your ears to predict gearchanges and your eyes out on stalks scanning the horizon 100 metres away. Because in an instant you will have arrived there.
The noise is like nothing else on earth. At normal speeds the Aventador fizzes and whirs but pull the lever back for a lower gear and it turns into an eardrum-shattering explosion. As you near the redline it takes on a metallic buzz. People in the next county can probably hear this thing coming.
Ride & handling
If the heart of the Aventador is the V12 engine, the brain is most certainly the Drive Select Mode system, a complicated way of saying there is a button that, upon pressing, alters its character and behaviour.
Strada is the default road setting and the most comfortable of the three. It's in this state that the Aventador is at its most relaxed, if such a thing is possible from a 700hp supercar. The gearbox is less responsive or fierce, the stability control is fully alert, the noise is dialled back and the steering isn't as sharp. Even so, it will still try to separate your head from your shoulders if you're not braced when you touch the throttle pedal.
immense traction and four-wheel-drive grip
Switch to Sport and you can immediately feel the Aventador tense up, like a karate expert who has been tapped on the shoulder. Everything feels more alert, more anxious, from the noise to the weight of the steering to the way the Aventador behaves through corners. On a public road you will never - or rather you should never - get near the limits of this car's immense traction and four-wheel-drive grip. If you do, you obviously need a spell at a rehabilitation centre.
Corsa is the most extreme setting and is best left for track use. The gearshifts from the semi-automatic gearbox take 0.05 seconds and are so brutal that it feels like the gearbox is being ripped from the chassis. The Aventador is now primed to do its best flying lap but this mode is far too uncomfortable for road use.
Despite its size and weight - a voluptuous 1,575kg - the Aventador handles surprisingly nimbly, with pushrod suspension (think Formula One) resisting body roll like someone with a wheat allergy avoids bread. The downside to this is a firm ride that is so jiggety that it's difficult to hold a conversation without your voice quavering.
The Aventador's passenger compartment is a one-piece tub grafted from carbonfibre for stiffness and safety. Within it is a world well and truly befit for the 21st century. Ahead of the driver is a TFT display with a digital rev counter and speedo, and a starter button hidden behind a red switch cover, which you flick up just like the missile launch on a fighter jet.
The rest of the interior is swathed in hand-stitched leather and the bucket seats offer plenty of adjustment to suit all shapes and sizes. It's actually very comfortable once you clamber in via the scissor doors and over the wide sill.
Only the Audi switchgear gives any clue that this car belongs to the Volkswagen Group, no bad thing considering Audi makes the best interiors in the business. A lack of cubby holes and storage bins will frustrate as you have nowhere to place a bottle of water or your phone, and the heat off the engine - just inches from your head - makes the cabin uncomfortably hot.
Economy and safety
20% improvement in emissions and economy
You don't buy the Aventador and then worry about the cost of filling it up. For the record it averages 17.2mpg but you will be lucky to see 11mpg if you regularly unleash all 700 horses. The frustrating thing is you will be forever stopping to replenish its 90-litre fuel tank. I'd have a servant to do that for me. Carbon emissions of 398g/km means you could fuel a power station with the gasses coming off the gigantic central exhaust. Even so, Lamborghini is pleased to report that CO2 emissions and economy are improved by 20% over the Murcielago.
The MSN Cars verdict
The Aventador is a car like no other. It is a style statement. It is a brute. It is one of the fastest cars in the world. But one that is extremely user friendly and rewarding to the driver. This isn't a dumbed-down facsimile of a Lamborghini but a clear sign that whatever the competition does, Lamborghini does it better by sticking to what it knows best.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||6.5-litre V12|
|Torque, lb ft||508/5,500rpm|
|0-62 mph, secs||2.9|
|Top speed, mph||217|