Lamborghini Aventador S: Review


For all its theatre, performance and spine-tingling soundtrack, the Lamborghini Aventador has always been a frustrating supercar. Too big, too heavy, too flat-footed when you want it to get up and dance. For every one thing it does well there are two or three things it does so oddly you wonder if the folks down in Sant'Agata developed the thing while nursing particularly Asti hangovers.


Having been unveiled back in 2011 the Aventador is now one of the supercar sector's elder statesmen. It's still so exciting to be in and around, but when you start to critically assess the driving experience with any degree of rigour, you soon realise it's now shown up by a number of cars costing half the price. At long last, though, Lamborghini has given its mid-engined heavyweight an overhaul. And this is no half-hearted facelift.

The new Aventador S might well be the Aventador we've been waiting for. It still looks utterly sensational, even more so out in the real world among everyday traffic. Watch it rumble by amidst a gaggle of Passats and Mondeos and you struggle to believe how low and wide it is.

We have sampled the S once before, but the conditions on the launch event in Valencia back in January were so poor we couldn't tell how effective the mechanical revisions really were. Now though, after a few hundred miles behind the wheel on some dry UK roads, we can say for certain. Not before we've run through those updates once more though.


The wailing 6.5-litre V12 has been tweaked to crank out a further 40hp, lifting the total to 740hp. The redline has also been lifted, to 8500rpm, while torque is unchanged at 509lb ft. More significant than that, though, is the fitment of a four-wheel steering system, a first for Lamborghini. Like all such systems, it effectively shortens the wheelbase at low speeds to make the car more agile and lengthens it at higher speeds to make it more stable - but that only tells half the story. What it's really done is make the rear end much more secure all of the time, which has given the engineers the freedom to make the steering rack more direct, and to allow the four-wheel drive system to favour the rear axle more often. Between them, those tweaks might just unearth the elusive right peg among the Lamborghini's two left feet.

There's a customisable driving mode now, too, which means you can turn the drivetrain up into one of the noisy settings without having to put up with unnecessarily hefty steering and rock solid dampers. They call it Ego mode, which works in a Latin-derived language, less so in English.


Once inside the cabin, the view forward just couldn't be more evocative, the steering wheel reaching out so far you can adjust the volume of the stereo using your right nipple. But the over-styled minor controls and infotainment graphics are horribly dated now. And who has been put in charge of designing Lamborghini's seats? Some sort of octopus, perhaps, because you'd have to be as pliable as an eight-armed mollusc to get comfortable in these chairs. The company's fixed-back buckets are less accommodating still.

Is there a better, more thrilling performance car engine out there than this howling V12 though? I really don't think there is. Against all expectations it's actually quite subdued on cold start-up, much more civilised than, say, an Audi R8's V10. Even on a wide open throttle through third, fourth and fifth gears it isn't antisocially loud, at least not from within the cabin, but the quality of the soundtrack is breathtaking. And feeling a big, overpowered, unassisted engine pulling through the gears right up to the redline each time, the rate of acceleration building insistently as the revs climb and climb, is just about the most exciting sensation in all of supercardom.


What a shame, then, that the ISR paddle shift gearbox is so woeful. Lamborghini says a twin-clutch transmission is too big and heavy, which is fair enough, but there are a number of conventional automatics out there now that would be a thousand times more effective than this rotten box of cogs. Lurchy and dim-witted in auto mode, it's also brutally shunty in manual. How can a single drivetrain marry such brilliance with such hopelessness?

What we really want to know, though, is whether or not the chassis revisions have made a nimble, fleet-footed car of the Aventador. You use less steering lock to navigate tight bends now and the front end is more resilient too, the overall chassis balance more neutral than before. You can place the car with real precision on the road now, but there's no steering feel so you have to build up steadily to the limit of what it can do.

Regardless of the changes Lamborghini's engineers have made, the Aventador still wants to be driven its way. It's like riding a half-broken horse - you sort of hold onto it and hope it'll go where you say, but you never feel like you've worked the thing out. The very best cars of this ilk are more engaging, more malleable and more adjustable, and more fun as a result.

Four-wheel steering or not, the big Lambo still feels exactly that; big. And heavy, too, which is no surprise given it weighs around 1700kg at the kerb. Driving the Aventador S at any real speed on a typical British B-road feels like flying a fighter jet through downtown Hong Kong; unbelievably exciting, but not really for the right reasons.


LAMBORGHINI AVENTADOR S LP740-4
Engine
: 6,498cc V12
Transmission: 7-speed ISR (Independent Shifting Rods) automated manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 740@8,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 509@5,500rpm
0-62mph: 2.9sec
0-125mph: 8.8sec
Top speed: 219mph
Weight: 1,575kg (dry)
MPG: 16.7 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 394g/km
Price: £271,146













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Comments (60) Join the discussion on the forum

  • jontysafe 25 Sep 2017

    Still want

  • The Beaver King 25 Sep 2017

    Lamborghini Aventador S in 'Drives like st, but looks the tits' shocker!

    Still a fantastically awesome looking and sounding bit of kit and, in the end, isn't that what Lambo's are all about?

  • Durzel 25 Sep 2017

    PH said:
    What a shame, then, that the ISR paddle shift gearbox is so woeful. Lamborghini says a twin-clutch transmission is too big and heavy, which is fair enough, but there are a number of conventional automatics out there now that would be a thousand times more effective than this rotten box of cogs. Lurchy and dim-witted in auto mode, it's also brutally shunty in manual. How can a single drivetrain marry such brilliance with such hopelessness?
    Why is this still the case in the year 2017? Lambo have had enough time to get this right, at this point after however many generations of product they're still mired in woeful gearbox dynamics?

  • VladD 25 Sep 2017

    The first car on my shopping list if I ever win big on the lottery.

  • RepeatOffender 25 Sep 2017

    Poor article.

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