Lamborghini Aventador : First Drive

  • Nov 9, 2011
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Big on brutality is what the Lamborghini Aventador is - the rightful successor to the Murcielago's throne. And when you get to drive it around the brilliant Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, all hell breaks loose
Three Lamborghini Aventadors line up at the Sepang International test track in Malaysia

“So this thing has a lot of power. It’s very quick – you think the corners are far away but they really leap right at you.” For David this was just another day at the office and he was in his usual work wear – navy blue Automobili Lamborghini tee and denims as we slithered down the pitlane. “No kidding.” That was me – also a usual day in the office wearing the usual tee and denims but accessorized with probably the widest smile my puffed up cheeks could afford.

“The pitlane speed limit here is 60 km/h, so you stay easy on the gas till just about now when you cross this white li……” And that was all I heard as the highly Americanised English-speaking Chinese Lamborghini test driver sitting at the controls beside me floored his right foot and the massive V12 snug behind my eardrums opened up in a brute symphony of thoroughbred Italian stallions – wailing in unison down to the last of the 700 ponies on tap. First corner. 3rd gear. Tight right hander. Hit the apex. Stay at the centre of the track. Squeeze just a little more power in on the exit as you brake hard again for Turn2. Still in 3rd gear.

Tight left leading on to the long right hander in 4th gear powering up for the short straight before braking hard for the tight right of Turn4. Another flowing section and you then brake for the tight left of Turn9, climbing uphill into another twisting section before hitting the back straight and then the tight left hairpin before the start-finish straight. The Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia had just been lapped and I had heard nothing but the wail of the Aventador’s engine, the odd lock-up under braking and the satisfying screech of wheelspin exiting the corners. But the buzz going through my brain had started way before I had even stepped into the white supercar.

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The bus ride to the Sepang International Circuit had been uneventful – till the time we found ourselves just behind the pit building and stepping up to the briefing room. When you hear a car way before you can see it, you know it has to be something exceptionally special, and the Lamborghini Aventador truly is. An otherwise calm day at the track was broken by the distant echo of the V12 on full song bouncing off the empty grandstands that are usually packed to the hilt on a Formula 1 or MotoGP weekend. And then it rolled in – sinisterly sneaking up the pitlane before it gently parked out front. Mixed feelings of pure awe and intimidation followed turning into fascination and appreciation at the way Lamborghini’s flagship had evolved over past decades.

The supercar shape that we know today may have been engraved by the Miura, but it is the later generations of the Countach onwards that you really begin to see a connect that has now perfected itself in the form of the Aventador. From there to the Diablo to the Murcielago, Lamborghini’s styling division was probably living in a wind tunnel and feeding off a diet of physics textbooks for the main course and Michelangelo’s art for dessert followed by deep conversation with extra-terrestrial life forms when they came up with the Reventon in 2008. Or maybe they were all just trained pilots of the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor! Either ways, the Reventon was what finally gave birth to the Aventador and it’s hard to think what the next Lamborghini supercar would look like if not the way this does.

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But all’s not well in the land of the Raging Bull purists – dilution and adaptation to modern ways has in a way toned down the Lamborghini aura of yore. Having German bosses might be cause for that and we see the Aventador show off an Audi shadow in bits and pieces. Flamboyant interiors (for their time) have always followed Lamborghinis around and we thought the Reventon’s innards were straight out of a science fiction fantasy that merged aeronautics with automobiles, but the Aventador’s set also throws in practicality in that mix. Now that itself isn’t too much of a bad thing because it also means there’s high quality materials in there highlighted by an array of switches running across the centre console that cascades down the dash and between the seats. As if to warn whoever will be in the driver’s seat that he’s going to have his mind blown in the next few seconds, the ignition button comes with a red flip-open cover. 

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‘Thumb down to initialize teleportation’ should ideally be what the lettering on it says and once depressed the 6498cc 60-degree V12 springs to life and settles in a gentle rumble under the cross braces in the engine bay. Heart fluttering to the rhythm of the engine’s revs, you slot the Integrated Shift Road auto’box into first gear and slowly start rolling off the line. But the real fun happens when you floor the right pedal and get pushed back in the extremely supportive seats.

Brutal acceleration is what the Aventador is all about and if your brains don’t try to battle their way out of the back of your skull, you just haven’t throttled to the stop yet! Brake hard enough and you’ll experience a retardation force amounting to 1g that will make the seat belt seem like it’s crushing through your rib cage. Now that is classic Italian sportscar stuff we’re talking about what with 700 horses on offer. But it’s mainly when you swing a go at the corners that you begin to understand what the Germans have brought to the Lamborghini stable. There’s absolutely no drama happening under braking or hard acceleration out of corners. With the all-wheel drive system working overtime on the Aventador it seems like it’s on the edge, but you just keep going with confident knowledge that this Bull will stay on a leash.

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It was pronouncedly prominent in fact on Turn12 at Sepang where I found myself standing on the brakes to slow down enough for the tight uphill left – the first time I went through there my heart stopped in its tracks with the thought of overshooting onto the grass. But then the massive 400mm front and 380mm rear ventilated discs kept things way within check as the Aventador slipped into a slight fishtail as it slowed down and turned in precisely where I had intended it to. Corner apexed and eyes fixated on the exit, the rear stepped ever so slightly out of line under full throttle but almost as quickly as it had misbehaved, it stepped back in line and powered on – the rear tyres laying down a nice fine trail of rubber.

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There on, lap after lap the Aventador showed off the fact that it was so in control of every situation thrown at it – good stuff for unexcited people leading boring lives that forces them to follow a set timetable. But for the true petrol head we need a little bit of drama in our drive. We need that over the edge experience that challenges one to tame a wild machine beyond ones natural capabilities. We like machines that refuse to obey without the wringing of their necks and that tend to make you work at counter-steering out of a corner. We like the drama. We like the improbability and we like the unpredictability of it all. That’s something missing from the Aventador surely, but that doesn’t mean it’s no fun. The heart-stopping acceleration and the hard turn-ins make up for the over-imposing control. The slick gear shifts compliment the V12 symphony of sound, rumble and roar. And the way the Lamborghini Aventador looks will sure as hell make up for the fact that none of the fairer sex will ever hitch a ride around a race track with you again. After all, with all its mean gorgeousness who needs anybody in the passenger seat anyway!

Lamborghini Aventador Video Review

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