Lamborghini Aventador S: Same Old Siren’s Song?

Since about the time of the Lamborghini Diablo, the Sant’Agata Bolognese based company has been fighting against the impression that their cars are engine first, last, and always.

And with their latest, the Aventador S, they go on at great length about the chassis, and aerodynamics this and that, to say “it’s not all about the engine.”


Look. There’s a lot of cool tech throughout this newest Lambo, and I’ll get to that, but the only thing from their press materials that’s really going to have any true meaning is this:

“More powerful naturally aspirated V12 engine outputting 740 horsepower.”

For those of you lacking a sense of history (e.g. Americans) I’ll put that into perspective: That is about what an Indy car from the late 80s was cranking out. The thought that Lamborghini, along with their bosses at Audi (Audi bought the Italian company a while back (which is why their quality jumped noticeably 6 months later)), will gladly sell a car that is the road-going equivalent of an Indy car from not that long ago is simultaneously inspiring and alarming.

The Lamborghini Aventador’s naturally aspirated twelve cylinder, 6.5 liter engine creates over 500 lb-ft. of torque, with an additional 40 horsepower over its predecessor. Variable Valve Timing and a Variable Intake System are optimized for increased performance. Furthermore, maximum engine revs have been boosted from 8,350 to 8,500 rpm while a dry weight of just 3,472 lbs. provides excellent power-to-weight ratio. Photo: Automobili Lamborghini

Exercise Caution

Look, we (and I’ll speak for every last one of us here at Automoblog) would gladly, gladly, take the keys from any Lamborghini rep naive and trusting enough to hand them over to us. (If, by any chance you are a Lamborghini rep, please contact either Chris Burdick or Carl Anthony at this website. Thank you.) But we’re different. We are, after all, professionals.

We have been around cars like this most of our adult lives (if not longer) and the chances of us doing something monumentally stupid like wrapping a shiny red, brand new Lamborghini Aventador S around a telephone pole are much, much lower than most people. I think.

But to give, okay, sell (even at a stratospheric price) to just any rich guy with a swollen bank account and glands and a commensurately atrophied brain is sort of a disturbing prospect. Yes, there are all these very keen gizmos on the new V12 Lamborghini flagship designed to keep it stuck to the ground and pointed in a life-giving direction.

But technology can only do so much, although thankfully, Lamborghini has put a lot into play here.

The Lamborghini Aventador S has four different driving modes: STRADA, SPORT, CORSA, and a new EGO mode, which change the dynamics of the engine, transmission, steering, and suspension. STRADA is for daily use, SPORT gives an athletic, rear-wheel drive feel, and CORSA is meant for the track. EGO provides several additional and individual set-up profiles, based on a driver’s preferences. Preferred settings for things like traction, steering, and suspension within the STRADA, SPORT, and CORSA modes can be set. Photo: Automobili Lamborghini.

Athletic Agility

The Lamborghini Aventador S has a new four-wheel steering system, for example, that enhances lateral control and responsiveness, especially when taking corners. Yes, it’s the first time on a series production Lamborghini, but I also note that Ferrari rolled out a 4WS system on their TdF variant of the F12 Berlinetta (a car that’s a little long in the wheelbase). And since Lamborghini was founded on “to hell with Enzo, I can do it better myself!!” it’s not surprising to find it turning up here.

Besides, Lamborghini has traditionally been a little tail happy, so anything to keep the rear under control sounds like a good idea.

The system is said to provide improved agility at low and medium speeds and more stability at higher speeds. Yay. The front axle is specially adapted to integrate with the active Lamborghini Rear-wheel Steering (LRS) on the rear axle: two separate actuators react in five milliseconds to any steering movements, allowing a real-time angle and cornering stiffness adjustment.

When tooling around town, the rear wheels face in opposite direction to the steering angle of the fronts, thereby virtually reducing the wheelbase. You know, sort of like trucks on a skateboard. With less steering wheel angle required, the Aventador S is more agile with a reduced turning radius, ensuring higher performance in curves and making it easy to maneuver in town and at lower speeds.

At higher speeds though, both front and rear wheels share the same steering angle, thus virtually extending the wheelbase. Lamborghini says this provides increased stability, optimizing the responsiveness of the car. Effectively, this high speed four-wheel steering scheme means the car crabs a little on purpose.

Lamborghini’s updated pushrod and Lamborghini Magneto-rheological Suspension (LMS) provide “vertical control,” and are engineered to accommodate the new four-wheel steering. The new suspension geometry, optimized for Lamborghini Rear-wheel Steering, includes an upper and lower arm and wheel carrier to reduce caster and load on the system. A new real-time variable damping system optimizes wheel and body control, while ground stiffness is maximized. Lastly, new rear springs create additional balance for exceptional driving dynamics. Photo: Automobili Lamborghini.

Not So Much

Now, as far as the overall design and aerodynamics are concerned, the new Lamborghini Aventador S is subtle and refined and . . . sorry, who am I trying to kid. The Lamborghini Aventador S is, like all Lambos, about as subtle and refined as a meat axe.

Remember this crucial exchange between Bruce and Alfred from The Dark Night:

Alfred Pennyworth: Will you be wanting the Batpod, sir?

Bruce Wayne: In the middle of the day, Alfred? Not very subtle.

Alfred Pennyworth: The Lamborghini, then?

[with deadpan sarcasm]

Alfred Pennyworth: Much more subtle.

That is the design aesthetic that applies here.

The Aventador S features a number of exterior developments, particularly at the front and rear. Which follows if, aero-wise, you want to keep the thing stuck to the pavement. A more aggressive nose with a longer front splitter redirects airflow for better aerodynamic efficiency and cooling. The rear of the Aventador S is dominated by a black diffuser, which is available on request in carbon fiber because Lambo are a bunch of cheapskates and don’t just make it out of that from the get go.

The Lamborghini Aventador S features a new exhaust system developed through an extensive R&D project. It endured heavy testing in order to achieve the desired sound and properly resonate the engine notes of the V12. The new exhaust is 20 percent lighter and easily noticeable at the rear of the vehicle with its three pipe design. Photo: Automobili Lamborghini.

Angelically Fast

The new diffuser has a number of vertical fins that amplify the airflow, reduce drag through pressure recovery and, most importantly, generate downforce. Three single exhaust outlets exit through the rear bumper, and, c’mon, look totally cool. The rear wing is active, meaning it’s movable in three positions depending on speed and drive mode. It optimizes the car’s overall balance, and works with vortex generators at the front and rear of the underbody to maximize air flow as well as assist in brake cooling.

All this adds up to a downforce improvement of more than 130% over the previous Aventador. The overall efficiency at high downforce is improved by over 50%, and in low drag by more than 400% compared to the previous model. Impressive. All this adds up to a 0-100km/h dash in 2.9 seconds, and a top speed of 350 km/h, which translates to “alarmingly quick” and “angelically fast.”

In the words of Han Solo, “she’s fast enough for you old man.”

Or, in the words of Automobili Lamborghini Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stefano Domenicali, “this is the next generation Aventador as well as the expression of new technological and performance milestones in super sports car development. The Aventador S is visionary design, cutting-edge technology, and driving dynamics in pure harmony, and elevates the concept of super sports cars to a new level.”

And yes, that would be the Stefano Domenicali that used to run Ferrari’s Grand Prix team. So he knows whence he speaks.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Automobili Lamborghini.