The Murciélago may be a chuckable plaything on a racetrack, but in central Italy, where the roads are sized for Vespas and Fiat 500s, it feels like a big, broad, bulky beast. The restricted visibility, low driving position, and 41-foot turning circle do nothing to enhance maneuverability. Despite these handicaps, the best survival strategy is to take the bull by the horns, floor the throttle, and beam yourself out of trouble. You can spend all day in second and third gear, a winged orange-metallic alien on a virtual-reality visit from a neighboring planet. Even on the superstrada, fourth gear is plenty, because it stretches to 125 mph. Want to attempt the SV's claimed top speed of 213 mph? Be sure to specify the available, smaller rear wing. The standard, bigger wing creates extra drag along with its additional downforce, thus limiting top speed to 209 mph, according to Lamborghini.
Still, if a Murciélago SV is ever overtaken while accelerating flat out from 0 to 62 mph, the other car is likely to be a Bugatti Veyron, which does the run in 2.5 seconds versus Lamborghini's still-incredible claim of 3.2 seconds for the SV (the stock Murciélago coupe is rated at 3.4 seconds). Predictably, fuel economy is an oxymoron: our test car averaged 9 mpg. But that's beside the point. After all, the SuperVeloce is a very special vehicle for very special occasions, like your favorite stretch of country road on Sunday at 5 a.m., your favorite show-off boulevard on Saturday at 5 p.m., or your favorite expressway when the conditions are right.
The SV offers a little more speed, a lot more presence, and an even more riveting driving experience than the stock Murciélago coupe, albeit at a $96,000 premium. The Lambo is more sympathetic and confidence-inspiring than the cool but cold, total-efficiency attitude that seems to be the rule in more modern and admittedly more complete machines. But it's refreshing to be at the helm of a proper hard-core sports car that isn't littered with omnipresent liability warning stickers, six or seven air bags, and even more electronic safety nets. Just about the only truly up-to-date trait the SuperVeloce conveys is build quality that meets the high standards of Audi, which owns Lamborghini. We can live with that as we await the next variation of the Murciélago theme, which may well be the Reventón roadster that the rumor mill is predicting for this September's Frankfurt auto show.