Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4POSTED BY admin ON 08 February 2012
For the last eight years the Murcielago held the position of Lamborghini’s flagship. It was a carry over from the Diablo era but no longer. The Aventador is its replacement and is Lamborghini’s most ambitious project yet. For a relatively small specialist sportscar manufacturer this is a huge financial gamble. Ever since CEO Stephan Winkelmann has been at the helm, Lamborghini has been thinking outside of the box trying to outfox their glamorous Italian neighbour Ferrari. Fortunately this has spurred them to even greater heights making brave moves to gain advantage
The horsepower wars have now reached the 700 bhp barrier and obviously places an impossible demand on available traction of the driven wheels. Obviously the traction advantage goes to AWD and Lamborghini with their latest Aventador LP 700-4, puts it to good effect hitting 100 km/h in an amazing 2.9 seconds. And while Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann professes top speed is no longer a priority the LP 700-4 reache s a new high of 350 km/h.
It is no secret that the key to more agility is lower weight and Lamborghini has refocused its efforts on power to weight ratio. Power creeps up from 670 bhp to 700 bhp but they wanted to shave 100 kg and to this end they have embarked on the next quantum leap by employing the holy grail of motorsport construction, carbon fibre. While Ferrari resolutely clings on to Aluminum construction, Lamborghini leaps into the world of super expensive carbon fibre construction.
Of course Formula One teams can afford to make their cars out of this exotic material but can Lamborghini pull it off and make it profitable? The benefits are too big to ignore, lightweight and extreme rigidity are both highly valued in the sports car arena so in 2008 Lamborghini began a secret project with Boeing at their Seattle HQ to learn and develop a practical carbon fibre supercar. Their idea was not to follow blindly by simply adopting carbon fibre tub construction like all the others but to develop a unique monocoque carbon fibre chassis, an industry first.
The usual design is to make just the central passenger cell entirely of carbon fibre but because it is a monocoque type design Lamborghini makes the roof a rigid, structural part so as to reduce the need for a bulkier floorplan. For this reason monocoques tend to be lighter as even the skin can be a structural part and not simply decoration. The front and rear sections are aluminum frames which are bolted rigidly to the carbon fibre centre section. And lest you think this is a weak point, the rigidity is a remarkable 35,000 Nm per degree for a car this size. Doors and front bonnet are still aluminum parts to comply with crash regulations.
In order to jump to the head of the class Lamborghini had to move two generations ahead with the Murcielago replacement. With the Aventador they went from steel spaceframe to carbon fiber monocoque in one big leap, skipping the aluminum spaceframe altogether. The Aventador is now what the supercar world has been waiting for, a future generation carbon fibre V12 supercar here and now. Lamborghini is not talking of a limited production run of a few hundred examples and has already sold the next one and a half years worth of the current production capacity of 750 cars per annum. To produce any more, they will have to build the new wing and acquire more carbon fibre autoclaves and other high tech production facilities.
And while the body and chassis is built entirely at Sant Agata, the other piece of good news is the new V12 is also built on-site at their foundry and not from Audi. Like the Murcielago this is still the one true blue Lamborghini they offer. The new engine may retain the 6.5-litre displacement but it is now a short stroke design unlike the long stroke unit of the Murcielago. This has the effect of widening the torque band and allowing larger valves to be fitted in the cylinder head. Also the mean piston speed has been reduced and producing 700 bhp is much less of a strain on the engine components compared to the 670 bhp V12 from the last LP 670 SV.
The exhaust note has changed from the deep bassy roar to more of a tenor howl with a strident high rpm wail that really sets the senses alight when gunning the Aventador down the tricky Vallelunga Race circuit just north of Rome. Oddly enough this wail is not so evident on the outside (though still delightful) but more for the cabin’s occupants which is just fine really as not every one wants to enjoy the sound of the exhaust the same time as the driver.
Yet another feature that proves Lamborghini is thinking out of the box is the 7-speed ISR (Independent Shifting Rod) single clutch gearbox made by Graziano, a name you will hear more and more of. Lamborghini decided against adopting the Audi DCT system because it would be too heavy and bulky for this application. Maurizio Reggiani the R&D director also makes the point that DCT systems shift without the shift shock in full race mode. Shock is a necessary characteristic he says, that fires up the passion of the Aventador and he must also be referring to the new eye-popping signature orange paintwork of the new Aventador.
Since the ISR is a dedicated robotized gearbox and not a converted manual box like the E-Gear, there will be no manual version. No loss here since there have been no manual orders worldwide since the LP 640 was introduced. With the monstrous 700 bhp available it would probably be best anyway. The shift times have fallen to just 50 ms which is not that far from Formula One standards and considerably faster than the 150-200 ms of the E-Gear.
Glad to report, the shift shock is only available with full throttle shifts in Corsa mode and not all the other modes. This mode is Lamborghini’s Race mode, also sets the parameters for the ESC electronic nanny as far outside the envelop as possible. It really takes some abusive driving to get to the point where the ESC starts to kick in. Most of the 2nd gear tight corners will have the Aventador in mild understeer and will only step out into slight oversteer with early application of full throttle. Higher speed 3rd gear corners will have the car moving into neutral or oversteer just by backing off in mid corner and requiring some corrective inputs by the driver as leaving electronic intervention this late means the car is already out of shape and needs help. Selecting Corsa also implies some level of skill on the part of the driver. To provide the most involving drive experience, Corsa mode also sets the suspension to the firmest damping map, sharpens throttle response and firms up the steering.
However Sport mode is pretty adept on the track as well. The steering is not as heavy and the shifts are not so brutal which is good for those who have some mechanical sympathy. This mode behaves more like the new DCTs with smooth, fast shifts between gears. The ESC settings are also quite liberal and does allow for some tail out antics too. Because it is less frenetic one can relax a bit when driving fast, lowering excitement levels but some may not get their adrenaline fix with just Sport mode alone. The suspension is also in a firm setting and perhaps still a bit too much for city roads. Sport mode also allows the transmission to be used in both manual and auto mode unlike Corsa which is fully manual.
Strada is the normal default mode and it has the kindest characteristics. The steering is lighter and the shifts are smooth. The main feature of Strada mode is the comfortable suspension settings. The in-board push-rod suspension system is another new feature of the Aventador. This complicated system helps comfort by reducing unsprung mass as the body of the damper and springs become part of the sprung mass of the car allowing for better optimization of the suspension.
Though this was a track-only event we took the opportunity to use the service road and pit lane to garner some impressions of the ride comfort. Thanks to the super rigid chassis the Aventador remains solidly composed even in Corsa settings but it is just too jiggly for the occupants. Even in Sport this might be too firm for most drivers over poor road surfaces. Strada is like a welcome relief and to be honest one does not really feel it is compromised in terms of control. Even in Strada mode the Aventador could be hustled round the track with considerable verve.
The reason for this is the Aventador is now 1575 kg dry and possibly 1675 kg tanked up and ready to go. The longer wheelbase and track offer more stability without the need to resort to higher spring and damper rates. In fact for the Aventador they have been reduced and explains the ride comfort.
Much of its track prowess is due to the Pirelli P-Zero Corsa Asymmetricos. This tyre system delivers leech-like grip and holds up amazingly well after thirty hard laps on Vallelunga circuit. After some hot laps they become sticky like scotch tape giving the Aventador the confident glued-down feel when tackling even the slightest corners. With such unerring grip and positive straight-line tracking the Aventador is blessed with a confidence inspiring feel at the helm.
Of course the aerodynamics help but Lamborghini admitted the Aventador is first styled for awe then tweaked for aero. Just watch the rear wing rise at 120 km/h in unison with the side air pods to capture more air for the engine. The active aerodynamic rear wing has two settings, at medium speeds it has an attack angle of eleven degrees for maximum downforce and when one approaches top speed around 300 km/h the wing assumes a shallower rake of four degrees to reduce total drag A styling feature are the tail lamps that are not visible when standing close to the Aventador because of the steep rake they have. This also gives a pronounced Kamm tail effect and the rear diffuser blends the escaping exhaust gases with the rear wake to move the center of aerodynamic drag towards the back and aids downforce and stability.
Make no mistake, this Aventador is not for the faint hearted and makes no apologies. It is truly an extreme car with a 0-100 km/h sprint time down of just 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 350 km/h. Lamborghini have also been conscious not to lessen the aggression that entertains keen drivers but also managed to impart a kinder, more user-friendly side to the Aventador to appeal to a wider audience. The Strada mode is the key to the new found acceptance as it behaves much like a decent DCT. Yet it still kicks like a wild beast when set in Corsa mode. Even if you have the requisite $1.5 million to spare you still will have to take a number as production has been sold out for 18 months at the time of writing. Unlike the fate of the brave bull the Aventador takes its name from, Lamborghini’s bravest ever gamble looks like it is a real winner.
- ENGINE TYPE : V12, 48-valves, DOHC, VVT normal aspirated
- CAPACITY : 6498cc
- MAX POWER : 700 bhp at 8250rpm
- MAX TORQUE : 690 Nm at 5500rpm
- GEARBOX : 7-speed ISR automated manual
- DRIVEN WHEELS : AWD
- PERFORMANCE 0-100 km/h :2.9 seconds
- TOP SPEED : 350 km/h
- CONSUMPTION :5.81 km/L (combined)
- SUSPENSION FRONT : Double wishbones, with in-board springs and dampers, anti-roll bar
- SUSPENSION REAR : Double wishbones, with in-board springs and dampers, anti-roll bar
- BRAKES : FRONT / REAR Ventilated CCM discs all round
- TYRES : Pirelli P-Zero Corsa, 255/35 ZR 19, r: 335/30 ZR 20
- AIRBAGS 6
- TRACTION CONTROL ABS with ESC
- LENGTH : 4780mm
- WIDTH : 2030mm
- HEIGHT : 1136mm
- WHEELBASE : 2700mm
- DRY WEIGHT : 1575 kg
- TURNING CIRCLE : 12.5m