An unknown quantity, that’s what this is. With some cars, you know what you’re going to get. With the limited-run Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce, I’m not so sure.
The past couple of new Lamborghinis we’ve driven have left our flabbers slightly unghasted: the Aventador is stupidly fast but can feel clumsy, while the smaller, cheaper Huracan is also absurdly quick at the money, but in making it easy to drive, Lamborghini has left it one-dimensional. In some ways both feel a bit ‘not for us’.
But, says Lamborghini, this is a Superveloce. This is different. There have been only three SVs in Lamborghini’s history before now, and in Miura, Diablo and Murcielago forms, they’ve developed 385, 530 and 670 metric horsepower (283, 390 and 492 kilowatts respectively). That’s plenty for their time, but nothing like the 750 indicated by the numerical designation of the Aventador.
Seven-fifty foreign nags is 552kW, here developed by a 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine that’s freer flowing than ‘normal’ and has its rev limit raised to 8500rpm. Not for Lamborghini forced induction: just a whopping great engine that also makes 690Nm at 5500rpm. In ‘regular’ Aventador form, it’s one of the world’s great powerplants. Here, it should be even better.
Again, it’s mated to a single-clutch automated manual gearbox with, we’re told, an improved shift calibration, but more significant still is that the SV is, impressively, 50kg lighter than standard. There are new door skins and a couple of lighter panels clad over the carbonfibre monocoque, but I suspect the real weight saving comes from the stripped-out interior.
Lamborghini quotes a dry weight of 1525kg; probably closer to 1700kg at the kerb. What else? A big wing for serious downforce. Magnetorheological adaptive dampers are standard, as is dynamic steering, which changes ratio depending on road speed and a host of other factors such as how much of a ‘bung’ you give the car on the way into a corner.
We don’t like the system much on the Huracan, but Lamborghini engineers tell us it’s improved here. Oh, and the price for each of the 600-strong build run is a whisker over $882,650.
Other stats? The 0-100km/h time is claimed at 2.8sec, and I believe every millisecond. That’s down by only 0.1sec from the standard car, but that’s because whether you’re talking 515kW or 552kW, initial acceleration is limited by traction as much as anything. The top speed – more than 350km/h – is actually electronically governed. Bloody oath, this car is fast.
When will the horsepower war end? Not yet, according to Lamborghini’s head of R&D, Maurizio Reggiani. The extra power is important at more than 200km/h, preventing acceleration from tailing off. That’s why it’s worth having.
If making that kind of power means having an engine as good as this, I’m cool with it. The response of the V12 is sensational, especially if you push the button that takes the car’s set-up from Strada (street), past Sport and into Corsa (track).
Not only does that improve the throttle response to electric levels, but it also changes the calibration of the dampers, the steering and the four-wheel-drive system, which is actually more rear-biased in Sport than Corsa. In Corsa, forget having fun: it’s all about going fast.
And this car is fast everywhere. I say ‘everywhere’, but we’ve only driven it on track and then for not long. But even on this acquaintance, I can tell you it’s agile and alert, in a way that the standard car isn’t. That’s partly because of the reduced weight, partly the downforce and partly the adaptive dampers keeping body movements more tightly controlled. But it’s also because the steering is quick – more on that in a moment – and the chassis extremely throttle adjustable.
On a steady throttle and with smooth inputs, the SV will understeer a touch, and lifting off brings it smartly back into line. But it’s very happy to be deliberately upset. Shift its weight around and give it bags of throttle and it’ll oversteer quickly.
Eventually, the four-wheel-drive system shuffles power towards the front to pull it straight, but such is the weight and ferocious delivery that it’s possible to have an extremely large moment in the SV. It’s a car that likes positive, controlled pedal applications. Use those and it’s hugely rewarding. And ridiculously fast.
To the steering, then, because previously it hasn’t been without controversy. Here, it’s better. Around most hairpins, you don’t need more than a third of a turn of lock because the ratio quickens, which is most of the point. And it’s stable at high speeds because it slows, which is the rest of the point.
It’s just about natural enough in feel, but it’s still not as satisfying as the conventional rack in, say, a McLaren 650S. However, it does its job of making a big car feel agile, without the nervousness of a Ferrari F12’s set-up, for example.
The gearbox is also improved and gives a satisfyingly quick shift at max revs at full throttle, but it’s still a single-clutch automated manual that can feel lethargic at lower revs and on smaller throttle openings.
It doesn’t spoil things, though. The SV is a hugely likeable car. The best car Lamborghini makes, by a mile. There’s more to it than just raw speed, but if you do want something that’s as fast as the Superveloce, you’ll have to spend much, much more money to get it.
Forgive me, I’m going to mention the Nürburgring Nordschleife for a moment. Lamborghini, with only a 15-minute window, at little notice, decided it would have a crack at a Nürburgring lap time. Pirelli test driver, Marco Mapelli, then set a time of 6min 59sec in this car.
You must watch the video of the lap: there are some massively hairy moments, which Lamborghini’s Reggiani reckons were worth three or four dropped seconds. Now consider that Porsche, after quite a lot of trying, made its 918 Spyder hybrid hypercar go only two seconds faster than the SV, and you have an idea of the Superveloce’s latent pace.
Porsche and Lamborghini are both part of the Volkswagen Group, which means that Lamborghini won’t take the opportunity to go faster and reveal what might be a slightly awkward truth: that this is the fastest car in the group’s portfolio. Funnily enough, then, even at over $880K, you might – might – almost consider it a bargain.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Specs: Lamborghini Avendator LP750-4 SV
Body: 2-door, 2-seat coupe
Engine: 6498cc V12, DOHC, 48v
Bore/stroke: 95.0 x 76.4mm
Power: 552kW @ 8400rpm
Torque: 690Nm @ 5500rpm
Power/weight: 362kW/tonne (dry)
Transmission: 7-speed automated manual
Weight: 1525kg (dry)
Suspension: double A-arms, adaptive dampers, push-rod coil-overs, anti-roll bar (f/r)
Steering: electrically-assisted rack and pinion
Brakes: 400mm ventilated/drilled carbon-ceramic discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 380mm ventilated/drilled carbon-ceramic discs, 4-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 20 x 9.0-inch (f); 21 x 13.0-inch (r)
Tyres: 255/30 ZR20 (f); 355/25 ZR21 (r); Pirelli PZERO Corsa
Price: £320,000 (AU$882,650)
Positives: Retina-peeling pace; menacing SV looks; relative bang for buck
Negatives: Ageing transmission; dynamic steer still not perfect; no road drive yet