Story by Benjamin Greene
Originally published by Dupont Registry: http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/blog/post/2011/05/04/Lamborghini-Aventador-LP700-4-driving-impressions.aspx
The reviews are rolling in and by all accounts the Lamborghini Aventador is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. The acceleration and top speed figures may be why most people clicked the Facebook Like button on our overview of the Aventador LP700-4, but Lamborghini is more impressed with the car’s handling. That is why it brought a pack of journalists out to Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy; a track highlighted by its curves.
Motor Trend and Automobile compared the Aventador to a cheap Veyron 16.4. Motor Trend said that despite its nearly $400,000 price tag, it “begins to look less rip-off Vette and more bargain Bugatti.” Automobile compared the two cars on a performance level, downplaying the Aventador’s 0–62 stat for its more telling quarter-mile figure, specifically saying its “insane—getting near Bugatti Veyron-level insane.” All the journalists seemed to walk away very pleased with the car’s straight-line performance, but it would be hard to not be impressed with trips from zero to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, quarter-mile runs in 10.5 seconds, and a top speed of 217 mph. AutoCar said that its “acceleration and the noise are monstrous in every way” and InsideLine noted that its “broad torque curve and terrific reach results in velocity that piles on deceptively quickly.”
It all stems from a new 6.5-liter V-12 power plant that produces 692 hp at 8,250 rpm and 509 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm. That’s 60 hp and 22 lb-ft of torque more than the Murcielago LP640, but requiring 20 percent less fuel and emitting 20 percent less pollutants into the air. Because of its lighter weight (44 pounds lighter) and more compact dimensions compared to the Murcielago’s engine, the new twelve-cylinder, known internally as the L539, is able to sit 2.4 inches closer to the ground, equating to a better center of gravity. InsideLine calls its engine “sharp and tractable at low revs, yet devastatingly powerful” and sums it by simply proclaiming it a “gem of an engine.” The sound of the engine doesn’t disappoint either. Car and Driver compares it to a high-end audio system: “the V-12 makes a powerful low-frequency roar at lower engine speeds, which becomes a thunderstorm over 3500 rpm. Stay on the throttle and, beyond 5000 rpm, the Lambo V-12 sounds like the apocalypse.”
In this case, part of the Aventador’s allure comes from the transmission to which it is connected. Lamborghini’s Independent Shifting Rods (IRS) is a servo-actuated mechanical gearbox that provides stunning shift times without being overly harsh. The independent shifting rods provide the same benefits you would find in a dual-clutch transmission, with shifts running virtually in parallel to one another. While one shifting rod is disengaging one gear, the second shifting rod is engaging the next gear. Motor Trend points out that the resulting 50-millisecond shifts best the Murcielago and Gallardo Superleggera’s e-gear systems by 150 milliseconds and 70 milliseconds, respectively.
The Aventador’s newfound handling, which Lamborghini was so smitten with, was also well loved by the automotive journalists. Automobile dubbed its grip “practically limitless,” Road and Track said it “exhibits super crisp turn-in response, while behaving like a rear-wheel-driver,” and InsideLine said “the very wide car seems to shrink at speed, feeling sharper the faster you go. InsideLine also called it a “beast with manners” that is able to claw itself out of corners with its power.
By all accounts, the Aventador is immensely better than the car it replaces. What isn’t clear is if it retains or loses some of the Murcielago’s, shall we say, bullish features. Automobile says the LP700-4 takes “all the brutality of the Murcielago and amps it up.” Car and Driver called it a “razor-sharp jet-fighter on wheels” but noted that it was still of “one of very few truly raunchy automobiles.” On the other hand, InsideLine says it “is docile" with performance that is "easily accessible” and AutoCar flat out said that “if you’re looking for the full ‘on the edge of oblivion’ driving experience that the Murcielago once offered, you may be somewhat shocked to discover how refined and resolved the Aventador is to drive.” Even if it loses some of the character its predecessors offered, Motor Trend may have summed it up best when it called the LP700-4 “far and away the best-driving 12-cylinder Lambo to date.”
[Sources: AutoCar, Automobile, Car and Driver, InsideLine, Motor Trend, and Road and Track]