The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Nick Hodgson
Lamborghini. No other brand has adorned the walls of boys and girls around the world more. In the 70s it was the Muira. The 80s brought us the Countach. The 90s the Diablo. Now we have the Aventador and despite the scissor doors, many have questioned the pin up status of the bulls lately. Well there’s no proving ground like the racetrack, so right on cue the boys at Lamborghini South Africa and Kyalami Grand Prix circuit were on hand to give us the chance to find out what’s what.
First thing you notice behind the wheel is the sheer size of Aventador, and in this case, the Aventador S. Racetracks tend to make most cars seem small, yet even the wide expanses of Kyalami seem to find it difficult to contain this raging bull. Maybe raging is the wrong word. Screaming perhaps suits it better, as you’re completely engulfed in that V12 sound, with the whole world drowned out and absolutely everything being about you and the bucking beast that is the Aventador S.
Speaking of bucking, let’s talk gearboxes. Flappy pad automatic is naturally what’s found in the Aventador S, however it’s still the “old school” style, i.e. a single clutch automatic box derived from Formula 1. Great in an F1 car, but most people would agree doesn’t work the best out on the road. I’m on a track though, so how is it out there. Savage would be the best way to describe it, kicking you solidly in the kidneys each time you change gear, just to let you know that it’s still there and working. Now I’m sure many people will argue that this is a bad thing, especially as there are so many excellent double clutch gearboxes around, one of which can be found in the Lamborghini Huracan for instance, yet I can’t help feeling that it suits the car in so many ways.
Firstly, you have the V12 naturally aspirated engine producing more horsepower than should really be possible and singing to the high heavens. Secondly we’ve got scissor doors and more angles, fins and grills on the car than any sensible human could want. And finally we have hydraulic power steering, something that I thought had died a death in the early 2000s. So it’s really quite a raw experience, despite the best efforts of the air conditioning, comfortable seats and various driving modes. So yes in this car I actually like the rough gearbox that reminds you that hey, this is not only a supercar, it’s a Lamborghini supercar and best you know it.
Dynamics wise the Aventador S somehow manages to be both a big bruiser and a rather nimble at the same time. Even in Corsa mode (that’s race mode to you and I who aren’t Italian) the traction control is going mad through every turn, trying desperately to hold back the monster screaming in your ear. Yet even then the Aventador S will get out of hand as I experienced through the Kyalami S’s and woe betide the driver who thinks for a second that he doesn’t have to be on point despite the nanny state getting involved. Then there’s the braking. Carbon ceramics naturally under foot, but you’re going so quickly by the end of the straight that even braking in a straight line can get squirrelly. Did I mention that the Aventador S is fast? Well that may have something to do with it.
Yet it comes with some exceptionally clever and ballerina-esque kit too. Rear wheel steering makes the Aventador S feel alive and much nimbler than it ever has a right to be given the lenght of its wheelbase. Dynamic steering gives a quicker steering ratio when you need it, making for an even pointier front axle. So all in all the Aventador S is a complex car and one that would take much more than a few laps round Kyalami to really get to the bottom of. This to me is what makes the car most exciting. Like a Porsche 911 it’s a complex animal that requires time and patience to trust and get to grips with. As an owner I can guarantee that you’ll be going on a journey of discovery, where only the limits of your talent are going to hold you back. This is not a vehicle to buy and on day two you’ve discovered everything you’ll need to know about it. This is a car to learn, one that can deliver more and more performance the more time you spend with it. So at the end of the day, yes the Lamborghini Aventador S is still a supercar and more than deserving of a poster place on your bedroom wall. Or maybe if you’re very lucky, a place in your garage.