Sat. Oct 20th, 2018
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ First Drive Review

Relentless. If we were to define Lamborghini in 2018, this is the word we’d choose. Led by the indefatigable head of research and development, Maurizio Reggiani, the engineering team at Sant’Agata Bolognese are constantly iterating current models — futzing, enhancing, testing. Give them a problem and they’ll hammer away at it.

The Aventador has been one of those problems. The V12 flagship was released in 2011 and shone far more for its sharp-edged Lambo-tastic design than its sharp handling. If we were looking for a word to describe that first iteration, we’d say … wanting.

Which brings us to the Autódromo do Estoril in Portugal on a sunny day in September. We’re here to drive the new Aventador SVJ, first shown this year at Pebble Beach. It is the fourth major non-roadster model, following the SV and the S. Lamborghini promises that the SVJ is the ultimate Aventador. The fixed Aventador. Or mostly, says Reggiani.

Sport is also the mode most tolerant of slip under Lambo’s algorithms, so the Aventador is moving around in a highly lively manner on Estoril’s long, progressive corners – despite its 3,910 pounds. Small corrections at the wheel keep things from getting too erratic. I relax into the lateral movements and let the car find its way. What’s this, an Aventador that’s light on its feet? Pretty fun, even if it doesn’t produce the best lap times.

For us, the reason would be the sound of the V12. The SVJ gets an all-new compact exhaust system. Like many components it is lighter than the outgoing piping, but most importantly Lamborghini’s engineers retuned the harmonics.

The afternoon before the drive, I was taking a run in the nearby woods, wearing headphones. Through the sound of the music I kept hearing a zooming sound, like jet fighters out on a strafing run. I took out the ear buds and — yes! — it was the sound of SVJs streaking around the track, miles away, filtering through the woods.

That sound is a GT3 race car married to a Learjet crossed with a Valkyrie warrior screaming at her husband. At full flog it’s loud enough to make you wince and eradicate all conversation. It is the sound of a non-turbo V12 doing exactly what it’s made for.

That sound is getting more and more rare from new cars, and perhaps we may never hear it again. Even for that reason alone, this vastly improved, mostly fixed Aventador is worth its weight in carbon fiber.