Lamborghini driving tip: close the windows when driving faster than 150 mph. The $485,000 Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce (that's “super speed” in Italian) is just getting warmed up at this point, on its way to its 217 mph top speed.
I only saw 159 mph before roaring into the braking zone on West Virginia's Summit Point Raceway’s front straight, and the open-window turbulence nearly scrambled my brains. “I thought my ears were going to pop out of my head!” exclaimed Chris White, the track’s operations manager who rode in the passenger seat. But open windows are the rule here, so they stay rolled down.
The Aventador crouches low and wide as a shadow, in the jagged shape of a broken mirror. Its ferocious, farm combine-like front end looks prepared to scoop up crops and inhale them.
The Rosso Bia metallic red finish (which is exclusive to the Superveloce) liberates the color red from Maranello, which has effectively trademarked its use for Italian sports cars. But the amazing depth of this finish and its darker hue put a stake in the ground for red Lamborghinis that no one would mistake for a Ferrari.
Driving at less than triple-digit speeds, the Aventador produces an intoxicating soundtrack courtesy of the 750-horsepower, 6.5-liter V12 powerplant bolted directly behind the cockpit. The engine's roar at full throttle makes me want to spend hours blasting through 2.8-second 0-60 acceleration runs.
Channeling that majestic power through its all-wheel drive system helps the Aventador SV launch forward with a feeling of stability that is absent from other rear-drive track-centric toys like the Ferrari 458 Speciale and the McLaren 675LT, which wiggle like bottle rockets on their acceleration runs compared to the Lamborghini.
In the past, that stability has come at the cost of heavy feeling steering, sluggish turn-in response and front tire-sliding understeer at the limit, all of which are typical by-products of power coursing through the front wheels.
The Aventador SV, however, overcomes most of that, with livelier steering and less understeer than previous all-wheel drive Lambos.
The enormous racing-spec carbon ceramic brakes proved their worth during track testing, confidently slowing the Superveloce down from stupendous speed to easily make approaching turns.
The SV suffers no drama such as darting around uncertainly or fade that lets the brake pedal ooze toward the floor after a few stops. Lamborghini says that it will stop from 100 kph in 30 meters, which has long been a key benchmark for maximal braking.
At the same time, full credit to the electromagnetic shock absorbers that help the car maintain optimum stability through transitions from full throttle to full braking and then from straight line travel to high-g turns.
On the street, the McLaren’s linked hydraulic shock absorber system provides a more compliant ride, while the Lamborghini has a more traditionally harsh street ride. Both cars’ non-adjustable one-piece carbon fiber seats are similarly uncomfortable in regular driving situations, serving as a reminder that you really need to be at the race track with the car.
The Aventador has proper steering column-mounted shift paddles to operate its computer-shifted seven-speed automated manual transmission. This arrangement keeps the paddles in place so you can always find them to shift, even while turning, when steering wheel-mounted paddles can be hard to locate.
The transmission couldn’t be simpler to operate. But the gearbox itself is an old technology, with fairly abrupt shifts and even some clanking sounds. Most competitors use dual-clutch transmissions that shift seamlessly between gears, which is less disruptive to the car’s stability when changing gears in a curve.
The SV’s stark cabin is stripped of carpet, sound deadening, radio and pretty much every other modern amenity save air conditioning, leaving the driver focused on the task of piloting. Which is as it should be for such an incredible road weapon as the Aventador Superveloce.
Besides, you can’t listen to the radio if your ears get blown out of your head.
Photos by Dan Carney