New Lamborghini Aventador SVJ 2019 review

24 Apr, 2019 1:15pm James Batchelor

The Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is the fastest production car ever to have lapped the Nurburgring, but is it as good as the stats suggest?

Verdict

4
The Aventador SVJ is the most advanced car Lamborghini has ever made. The active aero is hugely impressive and the engine modifications have added an extra layer of drama, yet despite this it’s also beautifully old fashioned and spectacularly inappropriate. It’s the last hurrah for Lambo’s naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 and as swansongs go, this has to be one of the finest.

The Aventador is destined to be the very last naturally-aspirated V12 car Lamborghini ever makes. Its replacement will still sport 12 cylinders, but will be boosted by a hybrid system. So you’d expect a dinosaur like the Aventador would quietly disappear into retirement – yet this £356,000 SVJ version would suggest otherwise, however. 

Instead of putting its now eight-year-old Aventador out to pasture, Lamborghini has given it a thorough going over to create the ultimate version – both technically and theatrically. It’s the loudest, hardest and most extreme Aventador ever built, and it’s also the fastest production car to lap the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit. As last hurrahs go, this one is quite special.

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And special is certainly the word to describe the engine. It’s the same 6.5-litre V12 that the Aventador launched with way back in 2011, but here it produces a frankly obscene 760bhp and very nearly as much torque. Lamborghini has squeezed an extra 20bhp from the old Aventador SV, yet a lot more work has gone into the engine than just a small power hike.

There’s a redesigned cylinder head for starters along with a different manifold and exhausts that are not only shorter, but exit the bodywork higher. The flywheel is lighter, and the SVJ uses titanium valves, too. Various other tweaks to give the SVJ a more hardcore edge compared to the standard Aventador S include stiffer anti-roll bars, recalibrated dampers, and a steering ratio stuck in the most dynamic ‘Corsa’ setting. 

The same seven-speed automatic remains, and 0-62mph takes 2.8 seconds (the same as the old SV). But there’s no fixed top speed, with Lamborghini claiming it’s more than 217mph. It’s fast enough, then.

All of the engineering changes that make this the most advanced Lambo ever are clothed in bodywork that makes other lesser (and older) Aventadors look tame. There’s a deep lower spoiler, angrier looking rear haunches, an impossibly large rear wing and a new diffuser. Those higher exhaust pipes look like a pair of sawed-off shotguns, too.

As you’d expect, the meaner exterior look and mad aero is not just for show – adding 40 per cent more downforce than the Aventador S can muster. The SVJ uses the latest version of Lamborghini’s ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva) tech which, to put simply, is a set of complex active aerodynamics. Look closely and you’ll spot two holes in the front bumper, which work in tandem with the intake above the engine cover.

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Press the throttle hard on a straight (and empty) piece of road and the vents open, forcing air that would normally go over the car to pass under it, reducing drag in the process. Meanwhile the engine vent also opens and stalls the air, again minimising drag. Under normal driving the vents close, and the active splitter and rear wing take over. The clever bit is how the ALA works with the four-wheel drive system, four-wheel steering and the suspension, to get the SVJ through corners as quickly as possible.

Just as the Nordschleife lap record suggests, the super smart active aero is at its best on a fast, technical racetrack. On UK roads it’s a little different. In fact Lambo’s hard work in tricking the air is pretty much impossible to spot, as it’s challenging enough getting the SVJ up to the speeds required for the aero to work. 

A helpful diagram showing whether the air is passing over or under the car is displayed on the screen behind the steering wheel, but the car’s sheer size means you constantly wobble over the central white line, completely unaware of what’s behind you thanks to pathetically useless wing mirrors and the SVJ’s towering rear spoiler stealing every bit of rear visibility.

Practicalities aside the SVJ is actually a surprisingly easy car to drive. The steering is sharp and gives rather more feedback that you’d expect ­–­ and if you remember to raise the nose you can easily drive over speed humps. The ride isn’t even that bad, despite the SVJ wearing 20-inch alloys at the front and 21s at the rear; even the seats are supportive. 

The button-heavy centre console and turn-of-the-decade infotainment system betray the Aventador’s vintage, but none of that matters as the engine is the star of the show. The Aventador’s V12 has always sounded orchestral but the SVJ adds even more drama; those shorter, higher-mounted exhaust pipes emit the addictive wail more freely. On the outside it sounds like an (whisper it) old V12 Ferrari F1 car, but with added pops, bangs and crackles. 

When you’re talking about 700-plus horsepower, an extra 20bhp is neither here nor there – but the SVJ’s bonus over other Aventadors is the torque. It really gets in its stride from about 2,800rpm, and with the four wheels biting hard into the road, progress is stratospherically rapid. It would be faster still if the old fashioned auto box was a dual-clutch – its slow reactions twist your neck forwards – but it adds to the SVJ’s last-on-the-dance-floor character.   

Key specs

  • Model: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
  • Price: £356,000
  • Engine: 6.5-litre V12
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • Power: 760bhp/720Nm
  • 0-62mph: 2.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 217mph+
  • Economy/CO2: 15.8mpg/486g/km
  • On sale: Now