Lamborghini Aventador S

A steer from the rear to help tame the beast

ALEX INWOOD

48 Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Lamborghini Aventador S 6498cc V12 (60į), dohc, 48v 544kW @ 8400rpm 690Nm @ 5500rpm 7-speed sequential 1730kg (estimated) 2.9sec (claimed) 16.9L/100km $789,425 Now

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

SITTING as you are in your favourite chair, this magazine in your hands, itís easy to think that a day with a bright that a day with a bright blue Lamborghini at Phillip Island is an adrenalin-drenched barrel of laughs. The motoring equivalent of cocaine; of hooking yourself up to a defibrillator and twirling the knob to maximum.

ďLucky sodĒ youíre probably thinking. Hell, I would be too.

But youíre forgetting one important ingredient: rain.

The pictures donít show it, but when I was at the wheel, Phillip Island felt more like a kidís slippery dip in a hot Malaysian monsoon than a race track, which changed the dynamic somewhat.

All of the Aventadorís numbers are big: $789,425, 6.5-litre atmo V12, huge 355/25R21 rear tyres.

And then thereís the reminder that despite the promise of its jaw-dropping looks, its inboard pushrod suspension, carboninfused chassis and all-wheel drive, the old Aventadorís dynamics under delivered.

Compared to rivals from Ferrari and Porsche, the Lambo felt unwieldy, unyielding, underwhelming.

This new Aventador S, however, rights many of those wrongs.

The pushrod suspension now has all-new magnetic adaptive dampers for better control and compliance. There are design tweaks front and rear that increase downforce by 130 percent. A new titanium exhaust system saves valuable kilos, as do forged alloys, and of course, thereís more power. Alterations to the intake system have freed another 29kW from the savage V12 which now boasts 544kW/690Nm.

The most significant addition, however, is four-wheel steering.

Itíll turn the rear wheels by up to three degrees, simulating a 500mm reduction in wheelbase at low speed for greater agility, and a 700mm stretch between the axles for improved high-speed stability.

Put this into practice and the results are transformational. Even on Phillip Islandís slick tarmac the front end has more point, and in Sport mode (which sends 90 percent of the torque rewards) you can feel the rear axle pivoting to encourage the car to turn.

This improved agility/stability dynamic gives you the confidence to be decisive with the throttle, to trail brake deep into corners and even let the tail wag, if you're feeling brave. Pair this with a new variable ratio steering system and the suspension tweaks, and the Aventador S feels smaller, nimbler, more eager to turn, faster.

Five laps on a wet track aren't enough for a definitive assessment, and weíre yet to drive the S on Australiaís scarred tarmac, but this taste shows the Aventador finally has the dynamic nous to match its rockstar looks. onal. armac

PLUS & MINUS

Jerk-prone gearbox; cabin ergonomics and lack of storage; thirst Savage V12; dramatic design; improved dynamics; sex appeal

Flawed function

Improved it may be, but the Aventador is still full of annoying niggles, chief of which is the gearbox. The S persists with a seven-speed single-clutch unit and, despite efforts to make it smoother, it still lurches and feels clumsy in Strada and Sport modes.

Best to keep it in Corsa, where the faster upshifts verge on violent and the downshifts are almost crisp.