No Fun ‘til Felony: Drive Fast, or Don’t Bother Driving
It’s not often you drive a car with a true split personality. We magazine writers say we do on occasion, that a car completely changes when you press a certain button, and sometimes it’s not an exaggeration. This is one of those times. This is not a good car that gets better or a wild car that can be leashed and brought to heel. It is an all-or-nothing, love-it-or-hate-it, two-faced fanatic, and the trigger is speed.
To be blunt, the Lamborghini Aventador SV is as amazing to drive fast as it is miserable to drive slow. Should you be one of the lucky 600 to have had both the means and opportunity to have purchased one, you should use your ample cash reserves to have it trailered to your favorite tracks and roads. This car is designed for one thing only: driving feloniously fast.
How feloniously? The numbers: Achieving 60 mph from a standing stop takes 2.6 seconds, same as the McLaren P1, Audi R8, Tesla Model S P90D, and Porsche 911 Turbo S. That’s the second-quickest time we’ve recorded for a production car. The electrically assisted Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari are 0.2 second quicker, and they both cost double or more what this special edition Lamborghini does. It’s also 0.2 second quicker than a standard Aventador.
It’s likewise the case in the standing quarter mile. The SV needs 10.4 seconds to make the finish line, tying it with the Bugatti Veyron at fourth on our all-time list. The faster cars are all roughly as expensive as the Veyron, and again, all require electrical assistance (918, P1, LaFerrari). It is only in trap speed where, at 134.7 mph (217 km/h), the Lamborghini is bested by something other than the million-dollar cabal, as the McLaren 675LT, Ferrari Enzo, and Saleen S7 sneak ahead (but still lose the drag race). The regular Aventador needs 10.6 seconds at 133.9 mph (215 km/h).
So what if Lamborghini has made the car a little quicker in a straight line? That’s nothing new. This one, though, goes around a corner, as well, a new concept for V-12 Lamborghinis. On our skidpad, it pulls 1.05 g, which is far from the highest number we’ve ever recorded but still very good. Rather surprisingly, it’s matched by the standard Aventador, a car that doesn’t go around corners nearly as well. Our figure-eight test, where the SV posted a 23.1-second lap at 0.91 g average to the standard car’s 23.3 seconds at 0.93 g average, is more revealing. The fastest cars are in the low 22s, averaging just over 1.0 g in acceleration, braking, and cornering around the whole course.
Stopping, as with the rest of these metrics, has improved thanks to the SV’s weight reduction. At 3,900 pounds (1,769 kg) even, this SV is 209 pounds (131 kg) lighter than the Aventador. This is notable for two reasons: first, because Lamborghini claims the SV is only 110 pounds (50 kg) lighter and second, because the Aventador we tested was heavier than Lamborghini claimed. Regardless, the SV managed to stop a foot shorter, needing only 99 feet. The record stands at 87 feet and was set by a car 532 pounds (241 kg) lighter.
Here’s where things get more interesting: The Lamborghini Huracn weighs nearly 500 pounds (227 kg) less. Its stats are as follows: 2.8 seconds to 60 mph, 10.6 seconds at 132.8 mph (214 km/h) in the quarter, 1.02 g on the skidpad, 23.0 seconds at 0.98 average g on the figure eight, and 104 feet to stop from 60 mph. It’s an impressive showing for the SV considering it’s based on an older, heavier car with a considerably less-advanced transmission.
The number you’ll be even more interested in is 1:25.42, its lap time at Willow Springs International Raceway’s “Big Track.” That’s quicker than a GT-R NISMO, a 911 Turbo S, and even a McLaren 650S. It’s only tenths off the Huracn, which posted a 1:25.17 using non-factory Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires. The SV, meanwhile, is fitted with P Zero Corsas, though Lamborghini says a stickier Trofeo R fitment is in the works.
Such a fitment would likely make a noticeable difference. Randy Pobst could find little to dislike about the SV’s track behavior, but called out its moderate mid-corner understeer. “It’s a little drifty on the way in, a little loose,” he said. “It’s nice. I like it—moderate understeer mid-corner, which makes it stable, but I’m waiting on the front tires. Then it gets neutral at the exit and really puts the power down.” Pobst noted that the problem is prevalent only in low-speed corners, whereas the car is better balanced mid-corner at higher speeds, where he called the car a “pleasure” and a “joy.” His other complaints were equally mild, the first being the throttle mapping, which increases exponentially the farther you press the pedal and comes on too strong as you approach full throttle. The second was the fixed paddle shifters, which he had trouble reaching with the wheel turned. He also managed to fade the carbon-ceramic brakes and brought the car back with the pads smoking, but he said the stopping power had been excellent until then.
In fact, Pobst very much liked the car. He had high praise for its predictable handling, which he said took away much of the fear inherent to a 740-hp car. It’s the exact opposite of what he said about the standard Aventador. Pobst also had kind words for the damping, which he found firm but compliant when needed (that’s often on a track as rough as Big Willow).
Should you, Aventador SV owner, ever get your car to the track, you’ll be happy to know it’s quite the performer. If you’re not the track type, you might be wondering what it’s like to drive everywhere else. As long as you restrict your definition of “everywhere else” to your favorite driving roads and you’re willing to completely disregard the posted speed limit, it’s fantastic. The exponential throttle curve and relatively low torque at lower rpms work in concert with the excellent all-wheel-drive system to keep the massive tires stuck at all times, no matter how hard you abuse them. A hint of mid-corner understeer can be provoked if you go to power too early, but otherwise, the car is as neutral as can be. Higher in the rev range, the car surges forward in a way only supercars can, with a ferocity that defies comparison. Falling out of a plane strapped to a piano might come close. More than just a ballistic missile, the rest of the car is finally up to the task of dancing with the engine. Brake force is immediate and incalculably huge. The ride is stiff but only so much as is necessary to keep the car planted over bumps and bad pavement. The steering is lightning quick and extremely precise with a surprising amount of road feel for an all-wheel-drive car. Even the finicky single-clutch automated manual transmission gets in the game with better shifts exactly when you want them (though it’ll still kick you in the back when accelerating in a straight line).
It’s the rest of the world you want to avoid. At anything less than 80 mph (129 km/h), the SV is absolutely miserable. The tiny windows make outward visibility precious and hard to come by—massive A-pillars and the rearview mirror hamper forward visibility, gun slits restrict side visibility, and there’s just enough rearward visibility to avoid backing into a house. (There’s no backup camera or parking sensors.) This in a car as wide as a Ford F-150. The ride is stiff, compounded by the fixed carbon-fiber seats, which have roughly the same amount of padding as the dashboard and are uncomfortable inside an hour. It’s quite loud inside, as it has zero sound-deadening material, and the engine doesn’t sound good until you’re up to at least 4,500 rpm and accelerating hard. The transmission is abysmally slow and jerky in Strada mode, and the throttle is quite lazy. The transmission puts itself in neutral while sitting at stoplights for no discernable reason. Getting in and out is difficult. The blind spots are a mile wide, and there is always, always someone in them trying to take a picture of your car while driving. Worst of all, your half-million-dollar car scrapes on absolutely everything. It doesn’t matter how shallow a driveway is. You will rip the air dam off sooner or later. It’s inevitable. This car has no nose lift feature to save weight, but that’s a stupid reason in a 740-hp car. Also, this car chugs premium gasoline the way a college freshman chugs cheap beer. We achieved 4 mpg on one particularly bad tank.
You would like to think these are the kind of problems you’d love to have. You are wrong. A car like this, which you’ve bought with your own money, is something you’d like to enjoy. Being uncomfortable, unable to see where you’re going, and constantly afraid that a cellphone-wielding admirer is going to crash into you or that you’ll grind the nose into the pavement is not enjoyable under any circumstance. Neither is taking it to the gas station every 100 miles.
For these reasons, we return you to our previous recommendation: Don’t drive this car to your road or racetrack of choice. Ship it there, and ship it home. Enjoy the car as it’s meant to be driven: at least 100 mph (161 km/h), preferably with your hair on fire forgood measure.
|2015 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$524,895|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Mid-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||6.5L/740-hp/509-lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed single-clutch auto.|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,900 lb (43/57%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||190.4 x 79.9 x 44.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||2.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||10.4 sec @ 134.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||99 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.05 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.1 sec @ 0.92 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||11/18/13 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||306/187 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.46 lb/mile|
Superveloce Is a Superb Improvement
With the tide of performance ever-rising, it’s easy to grow jaded about the latest high-water mark. Take for instance the 2010 Murcilago LP670-4 SV (pictured above) reviewed in our October 2009 issue. “Once the tach needle sweeps past the 5,000 rpm mark, however, it’s like someone’s fired the afterburner on an F/A-18,” then-editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie said. “There’s a solid shove between the shoulder blades, and the sonorous exhaust note gets an excitable edge.” Look at the stats for that car compared to the new Aventador LP750-4 SV. Not only is the power up by 79 hp, but the weight has risen by just 6 pounds (2.7 kg), and that results in a more favorable weight-to-power ratio—5.3 versus 5.9 pounds (2.7 kg) for each horsepower to move. Perhaps the greatest advantage the new supercar has over the old is its single-clutch automated manual versus the old single-clutch unit. Shifts now take less time, and they’re smoother and don’t upset the car as much. Our figure-eight test reveals a grip delta, and all those fractions of a second add up to a 1.4-second advantage for the new car. And although the difference to 60 mph is just 0.6 second, by the time they both reach 100 mph (161 km/h), there’s a 1.7-second chasm between them. By the end of the quarter mile, the Murcilago claws back some time but can’t even come close with an 8.9-mph disadvantage in trap speed. Behold the new Superveloce. It truly is a masterpiece. Chris Walton