Lamborghini reinvents itself

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MORE powerful but cleaner, lighter and smarter is a great supercar template to work to.

The Lamborghini Aventador is a piece of work that instantly makes its Murcielago predecessor appear prehistoric. With 700PS powering a lightweight carbon fibre chassis it’s shockingly rapid but more controllable than any Lamborghini to date.

Performance is, as you would expect, staggering. An output of 700PS makes this the most powerful normally-aspirated car in series production, but the Aventador’s engine is in no way related to the Bizzarrini-designed V12 that was first plumbed into a Miura and which ended up - in much modified form - in the Murcielago.

This all-new dry-sumped 6.5-litre engine continues to drive through all four wheels but does so via an ingenious single-clutch ISR sequential gearchange that, when switched into Corsa mode, can deliver gearchanges of breathtaking speed and brutality. On the road, the car is better left in Strada or, if you’re keen, Sport mode.

The steering is light yet precise, body control excellent and the brakes are crushing, as you’d expect from carbon ceramic discs with six-piston callipers at the front and four at the rear.

Acceleration? Think rest to 60mph in 2.7s and on to a top speed of 217mph, accompanied by the sound that’s purer in its timbre than the sometimes agricultural off-cam rumble of the old V12.

The handling balance is a good deal more benign, thanks to better weight distribution, improved suspension design and smarter electronics.

The end of the old-school scary Lamborghini V12? Try holding the throttle pedal down flat for ten seconds and get back to me on that one. If you’re not completely juiced after doing that, you’ve got no petrol in your veins.

It’s hard to know quite where to start with the Aventador’s design and engineering. Everything has moved on not just one, but probably two generations from the Murcielago.

The chassis is no longer a macrame of steel tubes welded together by an old boy in the Sant’Agata plant. Instead, the central section is a carbon-fibre tub with the engine bolted to the back.

Many of the body panels are carbon fibre too, so despite packing an engine that looks as if it would quite easily power an Apache helicopter, the Aventador weighs about the same as a Nissan 370Z at just 1545kg. The beautiful inboard-mounted pushrod Ohlins dampers help maintain a low bonnet line.

The Aventador LP700-4 offers a fascinating insight into the discipline of dragging the supercar into the here and now. Lamborghini has retained a classic look, but has examined the technical challenges and pressed the fast forward button. And then pressed it again.

The Aventador shares nothing, apart from ‘attutude’, with its Murcielago predecessor. It features a completely new 700PS engine, an all-new carbon tub chassis and suspension that’s like no Lamborghini before.

No wonder its rivals were left agape when the wraps came off the cars at the Geneva Motor Show. It has moved the game on quite decisively.

Although some of the old rough edges have been smoothed away in this process, the Aventador hasn’t turned into something sanitised and safe.

Put it on a track, switch it into Corsa mode and it’ll deliver as feral an experience as you could wish for, albeit with you rather than arcane quirks of physics having the bigger say in its direction of travel.

Lamborghini has reinvented itself with the Aventador, an extrovert supercar that wears its talent with discretion.

Andy Enright