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Road Test: Lamborghini Aventador

The big V12 Lambo gets the once over by Tim Oldland...

Seven. Hundred. Horsepower. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment.

The Ferrari F40 had 470hp when it came out in 1987 and that was considered pretty outrageous at the time. Now we’re in a time when the large supersaloons have 100hp more, while even hot hatches like BMW’s M135i have 315hp. So the prospect of driving something with 700hp is a heady combination of exciting and daunting, especially when it is in the form of the Lamborghini Aventador.

Some say that with the Gallardo, Lamborghini got a bit sensible. Normal doors, easy to use, not too wide, you can even use one daily if you want. But there’s always that special place above the Gallardo model – the one occupied by something powered by a V12 – in this case the LP700-4 Aventador. And it was this V12 monster that was sat waiting for me in the somewhat swanky, yet unassuming London clubhouse of écurie25 when I arrived one chilly yet bright day last week.

I’m lucky enough to have driven all manner of supercars, from hot 911’s to McLaren 12C’s and everything in-between, but there’s something special about a V12 Lambo. Something scary. It could be because it looks wider than a 747 and the prospect of piloting it out through London’s streets is a little unnerving, or it could be those 700 ponies sitting behind you. Either way, when you walk up to an Aventador with the keys in your hand, your heart starts beating a little bit faster. 

This particular LP700-4 is in the fantastically ‘look at me’ orange paint with black wheels – I’m not usually a fan of black rims but in this case they suit the menacing feel – and causes you to stop and stare open jawed at the sheer outlandishness of it. From the low, pointy nose to the swooping sides finishing at the pert tail it’s an orgy of sharp creases, vents and intakes and swells with pure aggression. It simply looks outrageous. You wonder how they managed to get someone high up in Audi to sign off the cheques to make it looking so bonkers. Some dislike the looks but to me it works perfectly. Aggression, poise, athleticism, beauty even – they’re all there.

But I’ve looked at the Aventador before for hours in dealerships and motor shows, this time I’ve got the key in my pocket and a day of nothing ahead of me so I should really get on with it. So, Audi tech lets me walk up and unlock the car by just touching the door handle then, swoosh – up sweeps the door. Ah, proper Lamborghini doors. On a Lambo, not a Civic. Drama level just went up a notch.

When you lift that door up you’re greeted with yet another incredible feast of technical wonder, with the TFT dials sitting ahead of the driver and a high centre console with all the buttons in the world on it. But after sliding into the surprisingly comfy driver’s seat there’s only one button I’m interested in – and it resides under a red flap like in a fighter jet. Cue child-like giggles. Flip it up, foot on brake and press the starter button. There’s that familiar Italian whir of starter motor, then the cold, spacious building we’re in erupts with the blaring cacophony of a 6.5 litre V12 waking up in the morning. Jesus, this thing is loud. But what a noise, smooth and mellow with a hard edged bark just waiting to be heard, hinting at the potential which is yet to be experienced.

Door slid down, destination in the satnav and away I go into the streets of London. Let’s get this out of the way first – it should be no surprise at all that the Aventador is awful to drive in London. The transmission is jerky in 1st gear, the ride is incredibly firm, you can see precisely zip out of it and it’s ridiculously wide with a rear wider than the front which makes width restrictions a headache. And I bang my head a lot on the headrail to the right of my head whenever I look right. But what do you expect? This is a 700hp supercar designed for more than just cruising around town (yes I’m talking to you, Harrods cruisers).

It’s some time before I get the chance to extend my right foot and it comes in the form of a motorway slip road. Entering at about 20mph, I have the car in Corsa mode, flick the paddles into 2nd gear and make the right pedal eat carpet. Holy hell... What have I done? Did I just cause the apocalypse? That massive V12 erupts through the transmission, blaring a positively sexual aural symphony through the big exhaust pipes and the Aventador makes you feel like you’re experiencing some sort of time-shift. There are few cars that have given me that feeling in my stomach when accelerating hard – that feeling that it may actually be too much – but this one does it. The acceleration is so brutal, the gearchanges so snappy and violent that by the time I’ve joined the motorway I’m doing <70mph officer> and my heart is about to jump out of my chest. I have never experienced punishing acceleration like that, the noise from that V12 – not just the exhaust but the sheer noise it makes just working makes it invade every one of your senses. I think I can taste it…

I didn’t quite believe how fast it was, so I came off at the next junction and did it again. Same result – albeit with a little less shock this time – this is seriously, absurdly quick. And I love it. Back to the original slip road and I do it one more time before realising that I could probably do with keeping my driving license and carry on with my journey to find some twisty roads. And find them I do – some lovely wide twisting B-roads with the kind of clear views ahead you can only dream of. So can the big beast handle itself in the twisties or is it a one trick pony?

No, this pony has many tricks. In fact, it may just be the most talented pony ever – it should go on Italy’s Got Talent.  Keeping it in Sport mode, flicking between 2nd and 3rd gear this massive supercar makes the bits between bends non-existent and then claws around the bends with such clarity and speed that you wonder if the tyres are made of glue. It really does just grip and go, you can carry so much speed through a sweeping bend that you’re already going much quicker than you planned by the time you exit it, but it doesn’t matter because you then get to accelerate again and it’s just so much damn fun. There’s a delicacy to the steering that I never expected, with clear feedback from the road surface and you can feel the car moving about through your bum. It really is very impressive for something so big and powerful.

So after a day of doing this, stopping only for some photos and a bit of lunch (oh, and lots of fuel), my time is up with the Aventador. The new breed of V8 supercars like the McLaren 12C and Ferrari 458 are so usable that you have them as your daily driver. Yes, they may be incredibly quick, accomplished supercars but they have a civility to them that makes them almost too usable. The Aventador is to me, a proper supercar. Big, noisy, lairy, hard to live with, brash and stupidly quick. I absolutely loved it.

Would I want to own one? If it was used for high days and holidays, absolutely. It’s the biggest assault on the senses I’ve ever driven and for that I have to applaud Lamborghini. 

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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more