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Review: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

What’s new?
This is an Aventador SVJ or Super Veloce Jota. The latter is a term that was first used for a track-spec Miura back in the early days of the marque. Jota was a classification used by the FIA under which road-going cars were modified to become race legal. And this Aventador is as good as track ready – literally. It’s got mountain-loads of power, is made from exotic, lightweight material and has an aero package that includes a wing that looks more apt for the circuit than public roads.

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This car – or rather a near-close version of this – currently holds the record of being the fastest-production car around the Nurburgring-Nordschleife in Germany. The ‘Ring has now become a place to set speed benchmarks for many car makers. Lamborghini too has done it in the past but this time it bettered its own and the fastest time set by a Porsche GT2 RS finishing on top of the timesheets with the stopwatch stopped at 6m44.97s. Spectacular considering the ‘Green Hell’ is almost 20.6km long and more importantly, very unforgiving. The only difference to the road car was that it has one less seat, weight of which was offset by a roll cage, and grippier Super Trofeo tyres, which are available as an option for customers in case they want to take the Aventador on the track.

Under the hood, which in case of an Aventador is at the rear, rests a seemingly new 6.5-litre V12. Lamborghini engineers have worked on its existing V12 to make it breathe even more easy. Power now peaks in the Aventador at a higher 759bhp. Maximum torque figure is a massive 720Nm, which is enough to take the car from 0-100kph in just 2.8 seconds (is massive fun to do). Top speed is a shade over 350kph (not sure where to do, in India…) – numbers which speak a lot about the true potential of this flagship Lamborghini.

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What’s it like on the road?
An Aventador is special. So, is getting in and out. The door swivels up and you need to heave in – not up but down. Can be a bit challenging for many but then this car isn’t for everyone. Firing up the V12 is marginally more dramatic. The interiors are inspired by an aircraft cockpit – of course, nothing like the modern jumbo jets but the kind that romanticizes aircrafts of the past. Toggle switches, Alcantara leather, even the ignition switch is hidden under the flap like in older fighter jets. The engine takes a second or two to awaken but once up the V12 breathing behind the passengers cannot be ignored. It wails even at idle and the power on tap is felt immediately once you put the car in gear.

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There are four driving modes to choose from – Strada, Auto, Corsa and Ego. The latter is a clever name because, despite the fact that the Aventador is an extreme machine, the driving mode hints at the driver’s need to have his/her own setting. So, Ego essentially allows the driver to choose the suspension, steering and powertrain modes individually. Strada is what would be the “normal” mode. In Corsa mode, shifts are manual only. Speaking of which, there is a seven-speed automatic gearbox. No dual-shift tech here. This gearbox is still a bit old-school but capable of managing the power going to all wheels. Shifts are prominent and can be manually done through the paddle-shifts. Interestingly, Lambo still has stuck to static paddle shifts which means they do not move even when you rotate the steering. Lamborghini engineers say this is better because when you turn the steering there is no confusion – the paddle to downshift is always on the left and upshift on the right.

With so much power on tap, shifts are met with a relatively violent rap. You need to be prepared for it every single time you do it. Especially true when in Corsa mode because the revs rise all the way to the redline which is just above 8500rpm. Interestingly, you need to be here when on the limit because that’s where the power peaks too. Not shifting is met with the tacho banging against the red line. It’s not the kind of experience you encounter with most production cars. The Aventador SVJ commands respect.

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The car also gets ALA 2.0 – Lamborghini’s patented aero system that is known for being small yet effective. There are no external moving aero parts but the aero package including the front air splitter and massive rear wing with the ALA system has increased downforce at both axles by nearly 40% per cent without increasing the drag coefficient. In fact, the latter is now marginally better. No exterior element on the SVJ has a sole design purpose. Everything has a role to play with the aerodynamics. Despite the increase in performance and the SVJ is actually much easier to drive than any Aventador has ever been. We tested the car on the standard Pirellis. Of course, standard, in this case, are custom-made rubber; larger 21-inch at the rear and 20-inch at the front. Despite its size, and the endless supply of power, the Aventador grips phenomenally well into corners. You can get on the power early allowing you to take corners faster. And the steering is pretty direct and not cumbersome to turn. Even after taking a fair bit of corners around the Estoril circuit where we tested the car, the SVJ was surprisingly easy on the arms. Lambo engineers will tell you how it is intentional as owners want to use a supercar more often than many perceive they would. And for occasions other than just an odd visit to a highway or a track.

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Layout, finish and space
This is a big car but with two seats only. Not that we were expecting anything more. The interiors can be specced to various individual tastes. The SVJ we drove had sports seats which may not be the most comfortable but then you won’t be taking the car for an evening cruise anyway. The SVJ uses a lot of lightweight carbon-fibre in its construction and this is seen on the inside too where it is paired as various surfaces along with Alcantara. There is a large TFT display on the central dashboard. Even the instrument cluster is digital and shows loads of information such as lap times and various telemetry data. Not surprisingly, Lambo has kept away with driver assist or “self-driving” systems. Navigation and infotainment systems come as options but can be ticked for no extra cost.

Verdict
The Aventador SVJ represents the peak of Lamborghini’s technical know-how. It’s a supercar that’s surprisingly easy to drive and arguably less intimidating for the driver in the way it manages all the power and takes corners while sticking to the lane. The drive DNA is still intact with that naturally-aspirated V12 (no turbo business) and a raw gearshift feel. On the outside, it means business in the way the aero package adorns every surface and makes the car look nothing less than a spaceship on wheels. Only 900 units of this car will get made, which probably doesn’t concern most of us, given the price tag, but it is important to note that the SVJ is clearly an important milestone for the SantA’gata marque.

Specs:
Price: Rs 5.9 crore (estimated)
6498cc, V12, petrol, 7A, 4WD
759bhp, 720Nm, 0-100kph: 2.8s, Top speed: 351kph
FE: City – 3.2kpl, Highway – 7.7kpl
Ground clearance: 115mm
Tyres: Pirelli, F – 255/30 R20, R – 355/25 R21
We say: The most forgiving Aventador ever built. Still, a true supercar.


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