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First drive: Lamborghini lights Aventador's wick

Raging bull: Lamborghini's newest flagship is big and bold, but feels light and nimble behind the wheel.

We get behind the wheel of Lamborghini's ballistic new Aventador LP700-4 at Sepang

21 Sep 2011


THE first Australian examples of Lamborghini’s all-new Aventador supercar are set to arrive here in the next few weeks and GoAuto can confirm their owners have every reason to be excited after a fast blast around Malaysia’s Sepang racetrack in one of the wickedly fast machines.

As you would expect from a car that will cost $754,600 before on-roads fees are tacked on, the LP700-4 Aventador delivers an extremely exhilarating driving experience.

Our time in the cockpit was limited to a handful of laps around the flowing Grand Prix circuit, but the presence of vast run-off areas allowed us to properly unleash the capability of the latest and greatest flagship from the iconic Italian supercar brand.

There is a lot to unleash too, with 515kW generated by the all-new 6.5-litre V12 nestled in just behind the front seats as it bellows past 8200rpm. Torque peaks at 690Nm when the engine hits 5500rpm.

We eased out of the pits for our run, but drivers who accelerate hard from a standstill will find the Aventador is able to slam 100km/h in just 2.9 seconds. That’s right - less than three seconds, making the House of the Raging Bull’s top-shelf model one of the quickest production vehicles on the planet.

Lamborghini says its replacement for the Murcielago generates 1g of force during that process and it certainly did launch furiously hard out of the slower corners on the track as all four wheels put the power down to the tarmac with incredible efficiency.

The awesome soundtrack of the fearsome V12 howling just centimetres behind you only adds to the drama.

The Aventador has a completely different note to the V10 Gallardos that were used to help show journalists the best lines around the circuit. While Lambo’s ‘entry-level’ supercar has a rich, high-pitched scream, the Aventador has a more intimidating thunder that should make an even bigger impression in crowded city streetscapes.

51 center imageThe engine spins fast towards its sky-high redline as you slingshot out of corners, trying to modulate the throttle so you don’t end up in the scenery. To get the most out of the engine, you must be prepared to rev it all the way round the tacho dial, but it spins up so quickly you’ve also got to be ready to flick the gear selector lever just before the cut-out.

Doing this will cause the seven-speed automated manual - not a dual-clutch transmission but a special lightweight single-clutch gearbox made just for Lamborghini – to slam into the next gear with the subtlety of a wrecking ball.

It’s brutal and jerky, at least in the most aggressive Sport mode, but is also extremely fast and that’s what counts out on the track.

The Aventador is capable of astonishingly rapid pace and clocked some seriously fearsome speed around some of the quicker corners at Sepang.

I’m told some of the cars did more than 170km/h on a few of the bends (and more than 250km/h at the end of the straight, which is still well short of the Aventador's stratospheric 350km/h top speed), but I can honestly say I wasn’t looking.

The big Lamborghini can maintain such an incredible pace through the turns that all my attention was focussed on driving rather than watching the speedo, which along with other relevant data is presented on a large laptop-style TFT colour screen, with a massive tacho in the centre.

Cornering fast in the Aventador is a strange sensation. The massive g-force available is one thing, but the fact it handles so well for such a big car is quite another.

Almost as long a Commodore at 4896mm, this monster is a remarkable 2265mm wide and has that great big engine yet it feels as light and nimble as a Porsche. The secret here is that the Aventador weighs just 1575kg, which is very, very light for such a big vehicle.

There is evidence of weight-saving on many elements of the vehicle, but its carbon-fibre body module probably has the most impact. This not only reduces weight but results in immense body strength and rigidity. Lamborghini is keen to point out that no other supercars have a one-piece carbon-fibre monocoque body, stating that they make do with carbon-fibre tubs.

Lamborghini says the race-inspired push-rod suspension, in which the shock absorber struts sit near horizontally, is also lighter than a standard set up and reduces unsprung weight, which means any weight that is not supported by the vehicle’s suspension.

Whatever the reason, the handling of the Aventador defies belief. It is a massive beast and yet you can throw it into a corner and control an effortless powerslide with ease.

Of course it responds to miniscule driver inputs and its power output and handling performance is phenomenal, but the is practical, nimble nature of the Aventador that most pleased this driver.

It can also stop rapidly, thanks to the carbon-ceramic brake discs that are as big as the wheels on many cars - measuring a massive 400mm x 38mm up front and 380mm x 38mm at the rear. They can take a while to get used to, but appeared to be able to pull up the Aventador rapidly at every corner for a day-long session of track blasts.

There wasn’t much time to admire the Aventador’s interior during our brief test drive, but there’s no doubt it matches the aggressive attitude of the exterior. There are some nice touches, such as the jetfighter-style red flap that covers the engine start button, a high centre console that adds to the cockpit feel and the generally chunky design.

You can see for yourself how dramatic the exterior styling is and the car looks even meaner in the metal, especially when it is howling like a banshee down the Sepang straight.

The latest Lamborghini’s aggressive stance, lines and proportions are all so extreme that the car could well have been designed by a teenage boy with a fertile imagination. It almost a caricature of a sportscar and has none of the subtle beauty of the original Lamborghini Miura coupe, but it embodies automotive aggression to succinctly it will attract the attention of city-clickers like few other cars when it passes.

The Aventador’s undoubted street-cred and presence is probably more important to many Lamborghini owners than how it handles shooting out of a bend on a racetrack, but owners should book some time at a circuit to see what their machines can really do at the limit. We sincerely doubt they’ll be disappointed.

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