When you think loud, flashy, V12 exotica, you think Lamborghini. End of story.
Over the past five decades, Lamborghini and its V12-engined supercars have become pop culture icons. Although the brand has actually released a wide variety of cars ranging from stylish GT cars to a 12-cylinder rival for the Hummer, only five models — the Miura, the Countach, the Diablo, the Murcielago, and the Aventador — have been deemed worthy of being one of Sant’Agata’s flagship supercars.
Lamborghini’s current flagship, the Aventador, has been on sale for more than half a decade.
For 2017, Lamborghini reworked the supercar to create the new Aventador S with revamped aerodynamics, upgraded suspension, new electronics, and a more powerful engine.
“This is the next generation Aventador as well as the expression of new technological and performance milestones in super sports car development,” Automobili Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali said in a statement.
“The Aventador S is visionary design, cutting-edge technology and driving dynamics in pure harmony, and elevates the concept of super sports cars to a new level.”
Recently, Lamborghini gave Business Insider the opportunity to experience to the Aventador S on the infield road course of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway.
Here’s how it went.
(Business Insider paid for airfare associated with the trip.)
The day started with an early morning helicopter ride from the west side of Manhattan to Pocono Raceway in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The waiting supercars gave us a ride to the paddock where we received a briefing on the car by Lamborghini America COO Alessandro Farmeschi.
Lamborghini revamped the Aventador's front end with a longer splitter and new air ducts. According to Farmeschi, it's been redesigned to look like a shark with the fangs of a viper. Very cool!
Out back, Lamborghini updated the rear of the Aventador S with a new triple-outlet exhaust system that's 20% lighter than its predecessor. There's also a more pronounced diffuser.
The redesign of the Aventador S is not purely for aesthetics. According to Lamborghini, front-end down force has improved by 130% over the outgoing model.
With the active rear wing deployed, Lambo says aerodynamic efficiency has improved by more than 50%. With the wing retracted, aero efficiency is better by more than 400%. When raised, the rear wing delivers extra down force needed to keep the car planted in the corners. However, the wing also adds drag and slows the Lambo down. With the wing retracted, the Aventador is more slippery at high speed but less stable in the corners.
However, Aventador fans need not worry. The car's wedge-like side profile remains unmistakably Lamborghini Aventador.
Step inside the Aventador S and you'll find a stylish, yet functional cockpit that's undeniably modern Lamborghini.
The center stack is features a sizable infotainment display along with a host of buttons and knobs that Audi drivers would find very familiar. ( Audi is Lambo's parent company.)
One thing you won't find on an Audi is a center console-mounted engine start button shield by a red cover that's reminiscent of a fighter jet's trigger.
Located right next to the engine start button are the controls for the Lambo's four driving modes that modulate the level of intensity of the car's powertrain, steering, and suspension.
In Strada mode, the Aventador S's steering and suspension are dialed in for comfort. At the same time the car's traction management system is geared towards safety and stability with 60% of the power going to the rear wheels and 40% to the front.
In Sport mode, the car is setup to maximise the amount of fun a driver can have on a winding country road. Here, the Aventador S is setup for easily accessible oversteer with 90% of the power heading to the rear and just 10% to the front.
In Corsa, the Aventador S is dialed in to deliver the best possible lap time on a race track. That means the traction control system is dialed back while the steering, suspension, and throttle are tightened up. Here, 80% of the power is apportioned to the back wheels while 20% is sent to the front.
Finally, there's the Ego mode, which is customisable to the driver's liking.
One push of the button and the Aventador S's 6.5-litre, 740-horsepower V12 comes to life. It's old-school naturally aspirated. No turbos, no superchargers, no hybrid drive systems here.
In fact, any other set up would simply be a dereliction of duty on the part of Lamborghini. After all, since the earliest days of the original Bizzarrini 12-cylinder, flagship Lambos have always had a stonking big V12. That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it should remain.
The Aventador S features a 7-speed single-clutch gearbox instead of a twin-clutch unit common on many of its rivals. The single-clutch unit shifts quick enough to suffice, but doesn't deliver the instantaneous shifts and smoothness of a twin-clutch.
With power to reaching the pavement through a Haldex four-wheel-drive system, the Aventador S is capable of putting up some serious performance figures. According to Lambo, 0-100km/h happens in just 2.9 seconds while 200km/h is reached from a standstill in 8.8 seconds. The Aventador S reaches 300km/h in just 24.2 ticks of a stopwatch on the way to a top speed of 349km/h.
But before we could take the cars out on track, Lamborghini wanted to show off its new four-wheel-steering system borrowed from the limited edition Centenario supercar.
For Lamborghini, four-wheel-steering is a major part of the company's strategy to improve the Aventador's driving dynamics. On a low-speed slalom course, the system significantly reduced the Lambo's turning radius -- making the 5 metre-long supercar feel a lot shorter than it actually is. If you're a valet in Monte Carlo, this is music to your ears. Also, more on its high speed handling later.
For my hot laps, I was assigned this Aventador S clad in an eye-catching yellow paint job. (That's New Giallo Orion in Lamborghini speak.)
On the track, the Aventador S feels solid. Although it doesn't feel 100% at home, the big Lambo knows how to handle its business here.
Flooring the pedal on the right and working through the Lambo's seven gears is an absolute joy. All the while the engine belts out a melodious tune only a V12 of its type could deliver. The monster motor revs freely with max horsepower available at a stratospheric 8,400 rpm.
Down the back straight of the relatively compact infield course, an impressive 225km/h is possible before the Lambo's massive set of ventilated carbon-ceramic brakes set about preparing the car for the upcoming corner.
In the corners is where is the Aventador S's four-wheel-drive and four-wheel-steering really shine. The dynamic duo works together to help hide the relatively heavy supercar's mass. Through the twisty bits, the 4WD system effectively puts the engine's prodigious power down to the pavement while its ability to find emergency grip acts as a safety blanket for the driver.
At high speeds, the four-wheel-steering delivers increased stability through the corners by making the Aventador S feel like it has a longer wheelbase. This translates to quicker cornering with less drama.
Four-wheel-steering is certainly not new technology. Honda Prelude coupes and Mazda 626 sedans from the 1980s had it. As did Godzilla, Nissan's R32 Skyline GTR. In addition, modern exotics like the Ferrari F12TDF and GTC4 Lusso have the tech as well. However, what's special here is the degree to which the system affects the Aventador's driving dynamics.
While the Aventador has always been an immensely powerful vehicle, it's ability to go around corners was unfortunately compromised by the car's inability to handle its sheer size and weight. With four-wheel-steering in the mix, the big Lambo's heavy-set nature isn't exposed until it is pushed to the absolute limit.
The Lamborghini Aventador S is a highly impressive supercar that's more than worthy of its title as the brand's flagship model.
The improvements made to the existing Aventador go about remedying many of the car's shortcomings while putting it in a better position to compete against more modern rivals.
The time, money, and effort Lamborghini put into improving the car's driving dynamics have certainly paid off.
After all, the previous iteration of the Aventador had a reputation for being more of an attention-grabbing boulevard cruiser than an all out performance machine.
(Lamborghini's racing operation uses the smaller Huracan.)
While the Aventador S isn't remotely close to being a track day specialist like a McLaren 675LT, the updates to the car allow it to effectively take on a track with a level of self-assurance its predecessor could not claim.
At full blast on a race track, the Aventador S's brutal blend of noise, speed, and vibration is violence at its most beautiful. It delivers the soulful driving experience expected of a supercar emblazoned with Lamborghini's raging bull emblem.
And it's a driving experience worthy of its near $800,000 price tag.
With that said, my time with the Aventador S only gave me a glimpse of its personality. After all, very little of the car's life will be lived on a race track. As a result, we look forward to getting a more comprehensive picture of the Lamborghini Aventador S in the near future.
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