Road test: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
The most powerful V12 Lambo ever could be the last of its breed
You’re looking at an endangered species. The Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is a gloriously unapologetic, politically incorrect, 770hp farewell to big-engined, old-school supercars.
The most powerful series production V12 car produced by Lamborghini, the SVJ badge signifies a unique beast. Lamborghini reserves its SV name, meaning Super Veloce (or "Super Fast" in English), for its performance versions, but the J refers to a treasured model from the early 1970s: the track-focused Miura Jota.
This 6.5-litre, normally aspirated V12 gets you from 0-to-100kph in 2.8 seconds, 200kmh in 8.6 seconds and has a top speed of more than 350kph. Those are very similar statistics to Porsche's frighteningly fast 911 GT2 RS, which The National drove last week.
To cement its place at the top of the pile, the SVJ recently set the fastest ever lap of the Nurburgring's hallowed Nordschleife circuit in Germany. The previous title-holder? The 911 GT2 RS.
Now it is my turn to give it a track going-over, at the Estoril circuit in southern Portugal. Given that the SVJ is limited to just 900 units, I'm aware of the responsibility to not bin it, yet even a mild jab of the throttle returns a neck-snapping thrust of acceleration that almost immediately has me jumping on the brakes for turn one. Coupled with the scream of 12 cylinders and 48 valves doing their best to break free from an engine spinning at 8,500rpm, inches behind my head, the raw physical emotion almost brings a tear to my eye before I reach the second corner.
The seven-speed, paddle-shift gearbox has been given an overhaul to cater for extra horsepower and torque. A high-mounted exhaust saves weight, not only because it’s made from lighter materials, but it’s also shorter – so also louder. Way louder.
An improved active aero system, which we first saw on the Huracan Performante, introduces side winglets that cut turbulence while increasing downforce on straights and through high-speed corners –
motors open or close the flaps in the front splitter in less than 500 milliseconds.The result is that you need less steering angle to get the nose pointed, almost feeling like a touch of lift-off oversteer.
The SVJ carries Lamborghini’s rear-wheel steering, which works beautifully in conjunction with the aero tricks to make it steer like a much smaller mid-engined car, with a delicate, fingertip-light feel through the wheel.
That’s something I never would have written about earlier V12 Lamborghinis, which could be notoriously tricksy, but the SVJ lets you dance the car under brakes, allowing you to pick when and how you want to turn the car.
I’ve rarely had so much fun, nor felt so in control of such a wild beast on track. McLaren and Ferrari have been put on notice to lift their collective track-car game if they want to match the feeling you get driving the SVJ close to its limits.
Lamborghini will continue producing V12 supercars in limited numbers, but with the caveat that the next generation will carry a partially electric power-train, so for now, the Aventador SVJ looks set to be the last of the breed when deliveries start early next year.
With Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche focusing on turbocharging and hybrid electric power-trains to get their performance from smaller capacity engines, the world will almost certainly not see anything like the Aventador again.
Updated: September 22, 2018 06:37 PM