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Car Review

Lamborghini Sián review

Published: 03 Mar 2021


What is it like to drive?

Not strictly driving, but here’s a Sián party piece. Stand someone about a car length behind with an open jacket. Now blip the throttle. You can play tunes on their coat – every blip causes a gust that blows it open. You won’t be able to do that in the electric future. And nor will you be able to be heard three counties away. That is a good thing, until you consider the sound that emits from the Sián’s trumpeting exhausts – a sonic impact of venting, vengeful V12 full of spitting, bellowing, flecking fury.

The Sian is a ruthless broadcaster. Not fully on it? Everyone can tell. It doesn’t matter if the exhausts are pointed at you or not. Inside the sound is more nuanced, you get cam chatter and intake suck as well as piston thrash and exhaust yelp. And behind that, ever so faintly and occasionally, a mousey whine from the e-motor. The volume discrepancy mirrors the power and highlights the main issue with the Sián, namely ‘what’s 34bhp of e-power going to do when you’re shutting off and opening up 774bhp?’

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You’re right, bugger all. 34bhp and 26lb ft of e-twist is a pipette in the dam burst of V12 mega-thrust. Now, the e-boost isn’t here to give the 6.5-litre V12 a leg-up from 774 to 808bhp. It’s here to paper over the cracks in the gearbox. Not a twin-clutch, but a single clutch sequential head-banger. The Sián’s electric motor, mounted between engine and gearbox, is there to take up the engine’s slack while the gearbox shuffles itself into the next gear. It’s under-equipped for the task.

In Track-focused Corsa mode the shifts aren’t too bad because the gearbox forces them home at almost twin clutch speed. But accelerating away briskly from a standstill, in Strada or Sport mode, the kind when you just want to dispatch the irritating hot hatch without looking like you’re having to work too hard? Watch the first to second shift, it could make you look like an amateur. So as you’ve always been able to, you end up managing the gearbox, rolling back the throttle before pulling a paddle.

And there are other drawbacks. Where in the world do you tend to see these cars? It’s not racetracks is it, it’s howling between middle eastern skyscrapers or battling Ubers for road position in London. So you’d expect Lambo to finesse for that kind of use. Instead what we have is a car with tight diffs that fight and fidget when pulling out of parking spaces and an engine that hiccups and hesitates when pottering about. And no, it can’t be driven on electric, not even for a single, solitary yard.

Does that matter? Kinda, yeah. It’s no more electrically motivated than the LaFerrari was eight years ago. But let’s put that to one side and consider the actual driving. Early Aventadors were a handful. They’ve got progressively better through S, SV and SVJ. But the Sián is smoother handling and more predictable than any of them. It moves so naturally we thought Lambo had stripped out the 4WS and variable steering rack.

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The steering is a delight, communicating Pirelli-sourced information to your hands as clearly as the V12 to listeners’ ears. You can lean hard into corners, but you’ll get understeer before oversteer. Once the nose is settled, gas it in second and the rear will arc out. Only momentarily, because then the 4WD will transfer power forward and you’ll be finessing an even four-wheel slide. But having the confidence to do this is the surprise. Body control, chassis rigidity, weight management, the Sián is tight and together through every corner.

A track car then, but without the daft wings and claimed downforce. Less track-focused than the Aventador SVJ, but simultaneously, because it’s not trying so hard to be super-aggressive, actually flows better around a circuit. It certainly doesn’t lack cornering force or grip. The ride, it’s safe to say, will be savage on the open road.

But mainly it’s about the engine, the response at 2,000rpm, the stridency from 4,000rpm and your total inability as the driver to shift up anywhere other than at the 8,500rpm cutout. You always hold on for that moment because it’s perfect, the build of power and noise into a sublime crescendo. Then pull a paddle and repeat, have the experience all over again.

This is performance that transcends speed, performance that’s as much theatrical as physical. Yes, it’s ferociously fast, but isn’t everything these days? What gives the acceleration added bite is the drama of it. The fact the engine is thrashing so hard the exhausts become giant bunsen burners, the air a super-heated shimmer pursuing the car. And that ridiculous, awe-inspiring noise.

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