Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 review

New Lamborghinis don’t come along often, thus it was with great fanfare that the noted Italian exotic sports car maker unveiled its long-awaited replacement for the decade-old Murcielago at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. As with its predecessor the low-slung two-seat Aventador LP 700-4 comes wrapped in distinctively angular styling, packs a massive 12-cylinder engine and delivers nearly unbelievable levels of performance. Initially coming only as a closed-roof coupe, a roadster rendition is expected to eventually join the lineup.

Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4

Sitting so close to the ground it barely clears the pavement, the long, low and wide Aventador LP 700-4 is visually distinguished by its futuristic-looking muscular styling, with scissor-type vertical-opening gull-wing doors. No less than a mobile work of art, every line, crease and crevice in the bodywork is said to have a clear function with regard to the car’s aerodynamic performance. To that end, the car’s massive air intakes are electronically controlled to open only as needed, depending on the outdoor temperature and engine cooling requirements; a rear spoiler likewise deploys at three different positions according to the vehicle’s speed.

As tradition would dictate, the car gets its name from a Spanish fighting bull. According to Lamborghini, Aventador the bull was so honored by earning the “Trofeo de la Peña La Madroñera” for its courage in a fierce and bloody battle with a torero in October 1993 at the Saragossa Arena. As for the rest of the name, the LP 700-4 designation refers to the car’s longitudinally positioned rear-mounted engine – which in Italian is longitudinale posteriore – its astounding 700-horsepower output and its standard all-wheel-drive configuration.

Meanwhile, Aventador the car is as ferocious as its namesake, thanks to a hard-charging 6.5-liter aluminum V12 power plant that generates the aforementioned 700 horsepower, along with a launch-happy 509 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a seven-speed automated manual gearbox that’s claimed to shift gears faster than would otherwise be humanly possible at only 50 milliseconds in either manual or automatic shift mode. Dual exhausts create a twelve-cylinder cacophony of sound that announces the car’s arrival with conviction. Lamborghini says the car can reach 62 mph (100 km/hr) in just 2.9 seconds, with a frighteningly illegal top speed of 217 mph. Residing just behind the passenger compartment, owners can show off the V12 to drooling onlookers via an available transparent engine cover.

The Aventador LP 700-4 is built using carbon fiber and aluminum underpinnings, with the former used for the occupant cell to afford added crash protection. Its structure is designed to maintain torsional stiffness to minimize both vibrations and undue harshness and contribute to the car’s impeccable handling characteristics. To that end the car rides on a Formula 1 racing-inspired aluminum double-wishbone suspension at all four corners with 19-inch Pirelli performance tires up front and 20-inchers at the rear. A full-time all-wheel-drive system helps the car hold onto the road tenaciously, with an electronically controlled Haldex coupling automatically sending more engine torque to the front or rear wheels in milliseconds as needed to maintain traction in reaction to changing road conditions and handling situations. Lightweight-yet-durable carbon fiber antilock brakes help reign in this raging bull with authority.

A Drive Select Mode System enables the driver to fine-tune assorted vehicle characteristics to suit his or her individual preferences. Engine, transmission and steering response, differential performance and stability control intervention can be adjusted according to three settings: Strada (road), Sport and Corsa (track), with the latter affording the highest levels of performance, albeit at the expense of ride comfort.

With an impeccably trimmed cabin that features supportive leather-upholstered sport seats, the Aventador LP 700-4 is as much at home on the fashion runways in Milan as it is on the open road. The car’s start button hides beneath a red switch cover on the center console for dramatic effect. An electronic instrument panel is perhaps more videogame-like than some purists would prefer, with all gauges simulated on an LCD screen mounted ahead of the driver. A second screen is housed at the center of the dashboard for navigation and multimedia purposes and to display images from the rear backup camera. Fortunately, traditional toggle switches operate functions like the power windows, air conditioning and the front axle-lifting system (used to create added ground clearance to help prevent damage caused by speed bumps and inclined driveways).

Buyers can choose among 13 production paint colors (including three matte finishes) and assorted two-tone interiors, and the Aventador LP 700-4 can be customized to any taste via Lamborghini’s “Ad Personam” individualization program, albeit for the “money is no object” crowd.

Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Quick Facts

Engine: 6.5-liter V12
Horsepower: 700 @ 8,250 rpm
Torque: 509 @ 5,500 rpm
City/Highway: MPG NA
Transmission: 7-Spd Auto Manual
Drive: AWD
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Overall Length: 188.9 in
Width: 79.9 in
Height: 44.7 in
Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs
MSRP: $379,000

Did You Know?

Lamborghini is expected to sell more supercars in China during calendar year 2012 than it does in the U.S., which speaks volumes about that country’s burgeoning economy. Soon after the Aventador LP 700-4’s debuted, Lamborghini had already sold out its first 18 months of production, with China accounting for a fifth of these early adopters.