We jetted off to Portugal to drive the new limited edition 2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, which is not only the perfect sign-off to proper supercars, it also ushers in a new era of aero wizardry…
Ferruccio Lamborghini set out to stick it to the man right from the very beginning – at first the man was one Enzo Ferrari, but now Ferruccio’s rebellious legacy remains intact over in Sant’Agata Bolognese. Today, the man is the regulator. Despite choking emissions laws, Lamborghini hasn’t yet succumbed to turbocharging, downsized V8s, and hybrids.
Okay, they do make a body-kitted Volkswagen Touareg, but in Lamborghini’s defense that’s what pays those V12 bills… And now that Ferrari is making SUVs and indeed anything you want provided your wallet is fat enough, before everyone goes completely crazy the boys from Sant’Agata have saved the best for last – this new 2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ could quite possibly be the last proper supercar as we know it.
Priced at around two million dirhams, or roughly half a million dollars, the SVJ is an instant classic that will be remembered as the epitome of the analogue supercar, holding back from venturing down force-fed or hybrid routes that so many rivals have reluctantly followed. In the middle of it all, the 770bhp, 6.5-litre, normally aspirated V12 engine is Lamborghini’s glorious two-fingered salute to political correctness before it too succumbs to electrification.
At that kind of money only a handful of people will get to call an SVJ their own as production is limited to 900 units globally, and after that we can say arrivederci to a magnificent era of old-school excess. For now, Motormouth is in Portugal shedding a tear and simultaneously firing up these mighty 12 cylinders for what could be one final run.
In track-focused Corsa mode, its pipes are straight through and would wake the devil on idle. Snick the paddle-shift of the seven-speed, single-clutch ’box into first, and it engages with a reassuring thunk that would not be out of place in a race car, and confirms the transmission’s beefed-up claims.
Lamborghini says the SVJ gets to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds and requires another 5.8 seconds to hit 200km/h, before topping out at more than 350km/h. It also boasts a stopping distance from 100km/h to zero of just 30 metres.
It took all of two corners of a race track for my neck muscles to confirm those figures. One solid stab of the throttle exiting pit lane – which fired me like a pinball into turn one, before I braked hard for turn two – was enough of an eye opener.
The sound of that huge engine screaming violently behind my head all the way to 8,500rpm, throwing me around inside the car with lift-off throttle and bullet-like acceleration, was verging on an emotional experience.
Compared to the Aventador SV, the Jota is even more extreme living up commendably to Lamborghini’s famous J suffix – it refers to a treasured model from the early 1970s, the track-focused Miura Jota. It was the fastest road car on the market, so it’s only fitting that the Jota name returns for one of the most powerful V12 engines mounted to a production car today.
Carrying the weight of the Jota legacy, this SVJ has to deliver the bite to match its bark, so test driver Marco Mapelli shaved two seconds off the production car lap record around the 20.6km Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit. It was previously set by a Porsche 911 GT2, until Mapelli clocked a seriously quick 6:44.97 seconds.
To make such a leap forward from the SV, engineers found an extra 40 per cent of downforce over both axles for the Jota. A new front bumper with integrated side fins that feature a new intake gives the car added width, and highlights the inclusion of Lambo’s genius Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA) active aero technology.
A three-direction air outlet in the nose traffics air to reduce both drag and increase downforce, while the upper body tweaks also improve cooling and contribute 70 per cent to the total downforce. A wild-looking rear diffuser and fins at the back complete the final 30 per cent, which are aided by vortex generators channelling air under the car.
The engine cover too has been redesigned to not only block your entire view out the back, but with the gas strut hinges removed to save weight which also means that the hood is detached racecar-style with four quick-release clips.
The ALA active aero system we first saw on the Huracán Performante has been tweaked with the introduction of side winglets that cut turbulence while increasing downforce through high-speed corners. This actively varies aero load to achieve high downforce or low drag, depending on what you’re doing, by using electrically operated flaps in the front splitter that flip open and shut in less than half a second.
Additionally, the rear wing’s inner air channel splits right and left, just like the original ALA system on the Huracán, allowing aero vectoring for high-speed corners. The result from behind the wheel is that you need less steering angle to get the nose pointed towards the apex, almost feeling like a touch of lift-off oversteer as you tip it in.
A high-mounted exhaust saves weight not only because it’s made from lighter materials, but it’s also shorter. This reduces back pressure and kicks out the most ear-blisteringly awesome sound you could imagine, though your neighbours might hate you.
Major changes to the engine internals comprise new titanium intake valves and a modified intake cylinder head, which allow for an extra 15kW over the Aventador SV at 100rpm higher and 30Nm more torque developed 1,250rpm earlier.
To cope with the weight of all the downforce and the sheer forces at play, the suspension has been reworked promising higher mechanical grip through a 50 per cent stiffer anti-roll bar.
Lambo’s rear-wheel steering now works in conjunction with the automated aero tricks, which makes it steer like a much smaller car and allows a delicate, fingertip-light feel through the wheel. That’s something I never would have written about earlier V12 Lamborghinis. It lets you dance the car under brakes, allowing you to pick when and how you want to turn the car in and precisely when to nail the apex. I’ve rarely had so much fun, nor felt so in control of such a wild beast on the track. McLaren and Ferrari are on notice to lift their collective track-car game.
Like the rear-wheel steer system, the main steering at the front has been modified to reflect the aero loads and the huge grip offered from the car’s bespoke Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres wrapped around the super-light Nireo rims.
Working together, the rear-wheel steering and all-wheel-drive systems send three per cent more torque to the back wheels, which improves the car’s stability, so that you don’t have to wait for the Jota to be completely balanced before jumping on the brakes turning in to a corner. There was a time, with Lamborghinis like the Murciélago or Diablo, when you could choose to either brake or steer into a corner but not do both. Thankfully, those days are gone.
The cockpit is familiar to anyone who’s experienced a modern Lamborghini, including the Urus, as a further option has been added to the Strada, Sport and Corsa modes with the addition of the EGO function that debuted on the big SUV.
Whereas EGO on the Urus lets you set it up for differing off-road conditions, on the Aventador SVJ it’s there to allow the driver to fine-tune specific preferences for the track.
The TFT digital dash remains unchanged, though it now shows a live status of the aero functions, and when it comes to ticking the options boxes, the sat-nav and infotainment systems, including Apple CarPlay, can be deleted at no cost. You can, however, add Telemetry Systems, which lets you record lap times, monitor track performance and trip data.
Times change and we have to embrace the new technologies coming our way, but for now let’s celebrate the fact that someone still builds a hedonistic car like the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ.
2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
6.5-litre V12 | seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive | 770bhp at 8,500rpm and 720Nm from 6,750rpm | 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of over 350km/h | AED2 million