Supercar Review: 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4

I have an old boxing buddy made good. Just a passable boxer, but, as it turns out, a phenomenal businessman. Something about online poker, offshore Internet servers and the foresight to predict that most everyone would eventually want to get their thrills digitally.

So, while I can take some small solace that I could pepper his noggin with more jabs than he could throw back, he can actually afford to buy the cars that I merely test. In the years I have known him, he’s had everything from Range Rovers to Ferraris, but he trades his four-wheeled playthings more often than Hugh Hefner does bunnies. So, with Lamborghini approaching something like Maranellan-like respectability, he wondered whether there might be a Lambo in his future.

Supercar Review: 2015 Lamborghini Huracán

“There is,” I replied, “as long as it’s not the Aventador.” The new Huracán, all German engineering married to more than a façade of Italian passion, would be perfect for him. “But stay away from the Aventador,” I admonished, “once in a while, it’ll slap you upside the head with a right hook out of nowhere,” I, of course, unable to restrain a reference to my favourite punch.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, be sure to be a

If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, be sure to be a “sociable” owner. You’ll be getting calls from strangers and friends alike at any time of the day just to ogle the Italian beauty.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

More to the point, the Aventador can be a little surly. Compared with a Huracán, for instance, the Aventador’s transmission has a few quirks. At first blush, they would appear to be similar, both boasting seven forward gears and actuated by massive paddles behind the steering wheel. But, unlike the Huracán’s slick-shifting dual-clutch manumatic, the Aventador’s trannie is an older, single clutch affair. So, although it does indeed weigh less (Lamborghini’s stated reason for using it in its top-shelf supercar) and can changes gears in an amazingly instantaneous 50 milliseconds (above 6,000 rpm with the throttle opened more than 80%), said shifting can be more than a little abrupt. Lamborghini calls this a “highly emotional shift feel” but I suspect that Bay Street dilettantes will complain about the extra mousse required if they hope to arrive perfectly coifed.

And just a quick glance in the Aventador’s rearview mirror is enough to dispel any worries that Lamborghinis have been homogenized by their association with Audi. Visibility out the rear window is, in a word, challenging. The rear window is so cluttered with various slats and shutters that the glass might as well be opaque. And at speed, what little view to the rear there is further diminished when the electronically-controlled spoiler deploys at speed. It’s a little like viewing a forest through a powerful telescope: Yes, you can see a singular tree back there, but the context of how it fits into the larger countryside is completely lost.

2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4

2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
Chris Balcerak, Driving

Lamborghini, ever mindful of modern safety standards, has fitted a rearview camera front and centre in the Audi-inspired centre console (Lamborghini’s infotainement system is almost a carbon copy of Audi’s MMI). Nonetheless, on numerous occasions, I resorted to the classic Countach trick of backing up with my butt hanging out on the door sill so I could be sure I wasn’t going to clip the (oh-so-expensive) rear fender on protruding brickwork or errantly kerb a wheel (see this week’s Motor Mouth) on a sidewalk neither mirror nor camera could delineate. Silly, annoying, and most certainly retrograde, to be sure, but at least you know the boys back in Sant’Agata haven’t really mellowed much at all. Besides, it garners all manner of attention from the hoi-polloi and let’s not kid ourselves, one of the prime reasons, admitted or not, for Lamborghini ownership is the attention it draws.

And those shallow of ego will not be disappointed with Aventador ownership. Though my particular tester was liveried in a hardly spectacular white, friends, family, friends of family and even family of friends beat a path to my door. Neighbours I swear I didn’t know lived five doors down brought their kids over to ogle the Aventador’s comically sharp angles. A friend’s daughter drove all the way up from The Beach just to photograph herself behind the wheel. Hell, even my dear old dad, who usually loathes sports cars cause they make him bend his creaky knees, begged me to bring it to Ottawa that he might lord it over his buds at the 19th hole. Aventador ownership is definitely not for the reclusive or hermit-like.

And, if somehow they have managed to ignore the Aventador’s visual attraction, their ambivalence would come to an abrupt end as soon as you press the little jet fighter-like red start motor button. The starter whirs for a few seconds — as if the electric motor is gathering the momentum it knows it will need to fire that gargantuan 6.5-litre V12 — and then all hell breaks loose. First, the big V12 gives a bark as it lights off, then a little zing as the fuel injection seems to test itself and then it slides back into the kind of lumpy idle that used to tell everybody that your supposedly stock Nova actually had a ¾ race Isky cam hidden under the hood.

Like a fighter jet, the engine start button is capped by a red cover. And, just like a fighter jet, the Aventador's acceleration is face-meltingly glorious.

Like a fighter jet, the engine start button is capped by a red cover. And, just like a fighter jet, the Aventador’s acceleration is face-meltingly glorious.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

Then, as soon as you gas it, the cacophony right behind your ears explodes into classic V12. None of the V10 blat that screams “almost” exotic, but a serious ripping silk, there’s-not-one-Audi-sourced-piston-or-connecting-rod-to-be-found-in-this-engine roar that just keeps on getting more deafening the closer you get to its 8,500 redline. An Aventador at full chat is exhaust music at its finest: Pavarotti belting out Foreigner’s Urgent might be as sexually charged, but I can’t really be sure.

And, if by some miracle, the Aventador hasn’t yet got your attention, accelerating with throttle pedal pinned and rev counter flailing surely will. At a screaming 8,250 revolutions per minute, there’s a whopping 700 horsepower trying to compress your horizon. Of late, we’ve been behind the wheel of all manner of supercars, up to and including the McLaren P1 that claims an almost obscene 903 ponies; 700 might be somehow mistaken as being lesser.

That’s most certainly not the case. Not at all. Indeed, the Aventador is one of those rare four wheeled beasts whose acceleration demands the same attention and respect as a full-blown, 1,000-cc superbike. Seven hundred horsepower, for instance, is enough to accelerate to 100 kilometres an hour in under three seconds, roughly the same as the aforementioned P1 (and Porsche’s almost-as-comically-endowed 918 as well). And, given its head, an Aventador will see the silly side of 350 kilometres an hour, a speed largely academic here in North America, but seemingly extremely important to some of the dilettantes — remember those shallow egos — that shop supercars.

The cacophony behind your ears gets ever so uncomfortably louder as the revs climb toward redline.

The cacophony behind your ears gets ever so uncomfortably louder as the revs climb toward redline.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

What makes all this sturm und drang useful, however, is a chassis that is nothing short of Formula One like. The entire centre tub, like the aforementioned McLaren, is comprised completely of carbon fibre. Massive aluminum subframes then bolt onto the tub. The entire affair has a torsional rigidity more than 35,000 Newton metres per degree. For those looking for context, you would basically have to hang a house off one corner of the Lambo’s frame to get the carbon fibre tub to twist but one solitary degree.

Then, pushrod suspensions are bolted on front and rear, the F1-like system reducing unsprung weight and offering rising-rate tuning. Further impressing is that you can see the telltale yellow springs of the Ohlins dampers under the rear sight glass. Again, for those looking for context, Ohlins is the most respected manufacturer of suspension components in the world. Tying it all together is an all-wheel-drive system — the exact front-to-rear torque split depends on whether you’re in Strada, Sport or Corsa Drive Mode — and an electronic stability control system that includes a torque vectoring system.

So, despite all that cacophony and forward thrust, the Aventador is manageable. Indeed, though still possessed of enough peccadilloes to ward off all but the most dedicated of enthusiasts, there is absolutely no compromise to the Aventador’s performance. It is still very much a modernized Countach. All is right in the supercar world.

No turbochargers to be found here. The 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 is powered by a gargantuan 6.5-litre, naturaly aspirated V12 engine.

No turbochargers to be found here. The 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 is powered by a gargantuan 6.5-litre, naturaly aspirated V12 engine.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

Don’t expect turbochargers in a Lamborghini anytime soon

Though it displaced only 3.5 litres and boasted but 320 horsepower, a V12 has powered Lamborghini’s topflight super cars since the original 350 GT in 1964. Nor is that likely to change. While Ferrari is starting to again dabble in turbocharged engines — the upcoming California T — Lamborghini says “the only real choice for Lamborghini is a high-revving, naturally-aspirated V12.” The company’s engineers profess that, while V10s are fine up to 5.0 litres or so, for larger engines, “a lower number of cylinders would result in larger and heavier pistons and connecting rods, which would have a negative impact on the engine’s high-revving characteristics.”

Certainly, this latest L539 variant of the classic V12 is no mere massaging of Audi technology. Indeed, everything about the 6.5L — right down to its fundamental bore and stroke — are pure Lamborghini. While the Huracán’s 5.2-litre V10 features undersquare 84.5 millimetre by 92.8-mm dimensions — the better to promote low-speed torque says Audi — the Lamborghini-designed V12 is a massively oversquare 95-mm by 76.4-mm affair. At its 8,250 rpm power peak, for instance, the Lambo V12′s pistons are travelling at a comparatively leisurely 21 metres per second; at the same engine speed, the V10′s pistons are spinning at a pushed-right-to-the-limit 25.5 m/s.

Another bit of typical Italian engineering overkill is the big Lambo’s lubrication system. While a dry-sump system (basically, the Aventador’s oil is held in a tank separate from the engine) is not unusual in this class of car, the V12′s eight, yes eight, scavenger pumps that return the hot oil to the tank most definitely are. And dissipating all the heat generated by those 700 rompin’, stompin’ horsepower, the Aventador sports both a oil/water and an oil/air cooler to keep oil degradation under check.

And, finally, so all the music from the 12-into-four exhaust can be attenuated for the right circumstance — one must, even in a Lamborghini, be respectful of hospital zones, after all — there’s actually two separate muffler systems — one high- and another low-volume — selected according to the Drive Mode — Strada, Sport or Corsa — as well as rpm and throttle position.

The Aventador's chassis is nothing short of Formula One like. The entire centre tub, like the aforementioned McLaren, is comprised completely of ultra-strong carbon fibre.

The Aventador’s chassis is nothing short of Formula One like. The entire centre tub, like the McLaren P1, is comprised completely of ultra-strong carbon fibre.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

The Specs

Type of vehicle All-wheel-drive supercar
Engine 6.5L DOHC V12
Power 700 hp @ 8,250 rpm; 509 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5,500 rpm
Transmission Seven-speed manumatic
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Tires 255/35 ZR19 front; 335/30 ZR20 rear
Price (base/as tested) $440,500/$521,000
Destination charge N/A
Fuel economy (L/100 km) 24.7 city, 10.7 highway
Standard features Power door locks, windows and (heated) mirrors, automatic air conditioning with solar sensor, Lamborghini AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, navigation system, cruise control, power glass sunroof, information display, tilt steering wheel, auto headlights, front air bags; seats with side, “head-thorax” airbags, passenger and driver
knee airbags, collapsible steering column, passive pedestrian protection system, rear view camera, Hill Holder function, electronically controlled rear spoiler, Anti-lock Braking (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD, Tire Pressure Monitoring system

About David Booth