Lamborghini gives its flagship bull bigger horns
In a world increasingly dominated by downsized engines with turbochargers bolted on, the Lamborghini Aventador is a glorious throwback to the old days. While some exotic brands have followed the global trend to polar bear-friendly engines, the Lamborghini flagship is still powered by a naturally aspirated V12 – one which now has even more power in Aventador S trim.
Although it's a bit of a dinosaur compared to the hybrid and turbocharged engines making their way into a growing number of supercars and sports cars, Lamborghini's V12 doesn't lack power. As if the 691 hp (515 kW) in the standard car wasn't enough, reworked variable valve timing and a higher redline have freed up another 40 hp (30 kW) in the Aventador S. It breathes through a new exhaust that's 20 percent lighter than the unit it replaces, a touch which should also free up even more noise on the move. In spite of these changes, the 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint still takes the same 2.9 seconds as before, and top speed is still 350 km/h (217 mph).
Beyond the extra power, the other major changes to the Aventador have been wrought under the skin. For one, the S is the first Lamborghini to be fitted with a rear-steer system. It turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speed, before turning them in the same direction at higher speeds. This is designed to cut down on low speed understeer, while improving stability when the speed rises.
The new system works in tandem with revised suspension kinematics, and adjustable dampers mean owners can set the car up for comfortable highway cruising or flat-out racetrack blasting with the push of a button.
Power is put to the road through a reworked four-wheel drive system, which is now set up to send less torque to the front wheels. According to Lamborghini, this will allow owners to indulge in small slides without fear of flying backwards into a hedge. If you're not the type of driver who wants to slide a massively expensive, powerful supercar around, Corsa Mode runs with a more conservative torque split for stabler, more neutral handling – but where's the fun in that?
Rounding out the new dynamics setup is a set of specially developed Pirelli P Zero tires, plus ventilated carbon ceramic brakes capable of pulling up from 100 km/h in just 31 meters (102 feet) are standard.
Although it maintains the same basic look as the current model, the Aventador S has been treated to a thorough tech refresh inside. Apple CarPlay joins a new instrument binnacle on the list of standard equipment, and owners are able to spec the seats and dash in almost any combination of colors and materials if they're willing to spend the money.
The changes are more subtle on the outside, where Lamborghini has shown a remarkable amount of restrain compared to some of its wilder past designs. A new nose design and longer splitter direct more air to the radiators at speed, and two ducts cut into the side of the front bumper help smooth out airflow over the front wheels.
Down back, extra fins in the bigger diffuser reduce drag, and work with the adjustable rear wing to create more downforce on the rear axle. All up, the aero tweaks improve downforce by 130 percent at the front and 50 percent at the rear, which should make the car feel rock solid as it runs toward that 350 km/h top speed.
Pricing for the Aventador S will start at US$421,350 – but expect that figure to skyrocket as soon as a few options are added to the base car.