A hugely effective way of transporting yourself several miles where you were just a moment ago

What is it?

It’s the first time we’ve had a steer in the UK in Lamborghini’s fairly sensational Aventador. It’s also the first right-hand-drive version we’ve driven, so I’ll focus a lot on those points.

You’ll probably know much of the rest of the Aventador story by now: it’s the new big Lambo, replacement for the Murcielago and the other mid-engined V12s before it.

But this time the tech is very different: it’s carbon-fibre tubbed, with a mix of composite and aluminium bodywork; while the engine is, this time, all-new: a 6.5-litre naturally aspirated unit, driving all four wheels through a single-clutch automated-manual gearbox.

What’s it like?

Still imposing. Drop yourself across the sill into the driver’s seat and - despite the new all-straights-and-angles interior with its is-it-plastic/is-it-metal surfacing - if you’ve so much as sat in a Murcielago, you’ll know you’re in the new V12 Lamborghini.

You intrinsically feel the bulk behind you, and that you’re at the pointy end of something fairly senior. Visibility is good to the front, so-so to the rear.

The pedals are still massively offset to the left, too. Feel for the brake and you’ll find the throttle instead. Left-foot-braking is the only sensible solution.

The seats are a bit flat, too, but the steering wheel is very adjustable. The flappy paddles are fixed to the column, with the column stalks below them. If you’re tall, you might inadvertently indicate with your knees. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, etc.

But when you fire it up and all is (mostly) forgiven. All-new engine it might be, but it seemingly has lost none of its character.

Neither, sadly, has the gearshift, which is unrefined compared to a good twin-clutch unit. Oh, likewise the ride, which is good for a big Lamborghini, but fairly ropey by most other standards, including those adopted by McLaren and Ferrari.

There’s no denying this is a big car, too. At 2030mm wide (including mirrors, granted), it is too wide to be particularly enjoyable on anything other than the broadest A-road. And even then it’s too fast.

Still, I suppose if you’re in the market for a car like this, you’ll accept all that: and the real question is, with 690bhp, what’ll it do?

Faintly rearrange your internal organs, is the short answer. I’ve driven nothing this side of a Bugatti Veyron that feels this quick: not a 599 GTO, not an MP4-12C or a GT2 RS. Not even, in its relentlessness, an Atom V8.

In fact, in flat-out mode (there are Strada, Sport and Corsa throttle/gearbox maps), upshift is so brutal that they can make acceleration feel even more spectacular than a Veyron’s. The Bugatti just picks up, goes, and keeps on going. The Aventador punctuates every burst of acceleration with a pause, a duck of the car’s nose, and then another astonishing whack in the back.

And the handling? Friendlier than it was, but it needs a definitive technique to get the best from it. The Aventador corners fast and capably in all cases, but mostly wants to wash out its front wheels first, particularly in slower corners.

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To get the back wheels involved in changing the cornering attitude you’ve got to do it on the way into the corner, by getting the (significant) weight behind you moving around. Do that and it’s more willing to engage both ends in the cornering line, but remains, I suppose inevitably given the mass of engine behind, less incisive than its peers.

I’m talking about on a track, of course. On the road, if you extract all of this car’s performance and potential, you’ll end up with the spell in chokey you probably deserve. All supercars are too fast to enjoy on the road.

Should I buy one?

If you’ve got regular access to a lengthy runway, or you live somewhere with wide, flat, long and empty roads, where traffic laws don’t exist or can be circumvented by the simple application of cash, maybe. The Aventador is a hugely effective way of transporting yourself several miles from where you were just a moment ago.

But if you’re after an all-round, complete supercar that’s painless – or even offers some tactile qualities - at road speeds, yet is entertaining on a normal-sized race track, I think you’ll be wanting to look elsewhere.

Lamborghini Aventador

Price: £242,280; 0-62mph: 2.9sec; Top speed: 217mph; Economy: 16.4mpg; CO2: 398g/km; Kerb weight: 1620kg (est, 1575kg dry); Engine: V12, 6498cc, petrol; Power: 690bhp at 8250rpm; Torque: 508lb ft at 5550rpm; Gearbox: 7-speed automated manual

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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BriMarsh 13 September 2011

Re: Lamborghini Aventador

Yes please. Even in cerise!

optimal_909 12 September 2011

Re: Lamborghini Aventador

Vimfuegoturbo wrote:
(is this the last new n/a V12 ever??)
That is what also on my mind... Though I don't like the design execution as it looks bloated, I can't be helped but to love the basic concept, the Countach was my favourite when I was a kid!

philcUK 12 September 2011

Re: Lamborghini Aventador

Digressing back to the actual review - whiles the car itself sounds all harsh, brutish and everything a Lambo should be - I'm really curious how that gearbox will cope with the power in the SV version, or even if it could.

They've been grafting bits of the Veyron onto the SV development car - I wonder how feasible it would be to mate the Bugatti's excellent gearbox into there as well?