First Look: Lamborghini LP 700-4 Aventador
Supercar makers these days are caught in a bind. As ever-tighter emissions regulations close in, they've been forced to re-evaluate what they do and how they do it. Lamborghini is no different. With its new Lamborghini LP700-4 Aventador, the crew in Sant' Agata has pulled off a car that's still as outrageous as anything Lamborghini has ever done, while also employing a host of advanced techniques designed to improve the newest Raging Bull's overall efficiency.
The Aventador follows the traditions of the Countach, first produced in 1974. The body is sculpted around the passenger compartment, with the longitudinally mounted 6.5-liter 690-horsepower naturally aspirated V-12 situated in the middle. The look is modern and aerodynamic, but still purely Lamborghini. Driver and passenger enter through scissor doors and the optional clear engine cover allows owners to show off the heart of the beast. The roofline is sculpted to allow for maximum headroom for passengers while tying in the character lines on the hood and minimizing the aerodynamic frontal area. Mechanically operated side intakes are carried over from the Murcielago, allowing air flow to be adjusted based on the engine's current needs.
6.5-Liter 12-Piston Heart
The heavy-breathing V-12 is a brand-new design for the Aventador. The most powerful version of the Murcielago was the 670-4 Super Veloce with 661-horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque. Lamborghini has topped that with the 690 horsepower and 509 pound-feet of torque in the Aventador. Not only is there more power, but it is more usable at lower RPMs. The big news is that it does these stratospheric numbers while using 20% less fuel, translating into 20% fewer carbon dioxide emissions.
The clean sheet, aluminum block V-12 features port injection, variable valve timing, four individual throttle bodies, dry sump lubrication, and an 11.8:1 compression ratio. The big engine has a screaming high 8250 RPM redline accomplished using lightweight internal components and a high bore-to-stroke ratio of 95mm and 76.4mm respectively. Maximum piston speeds have been reduced from almost 24 m/s at 8000 RPM, the Murcielago's redline, compared to 21 m/s at 8250 RPM at the Aventador's redline, resulting in fewer frictional losses. It also uses a new dry sump lubrication system that requires less power, provides better oil scavenging under high cornering loads, and decreases the size of the oil pan. The new system also allows the 518-pound engine to sit 2.36 inches lower in the car, reducing the center of gravity height.
Lamborghini likes to consider the powertrain one unit of the car. With this in mind, engineers created a new transmission to work in conjunction with the newly developed engine. The seven-speed robotized gearbox is referred to as an Independent Shift Rod design. It uses four shifting rods that allow the next gear to be selected while you're still in a different gear. The transmission uses only one clutch; a departure from current crop of DSG gearboxes in most cars. The syncros are constructed of carbon fiber and the ISR transmission is said to be lighter than a DSG and smaller than a traditional manual. Lamborghini says the ISR Transmission will crack off upshifts in 50 milliseconds, roughly 40% faster than the old E-Gear transmission. The all-wheel drive system is also upgraded. It uses a Haldex 4 coupling to send power to the front wheels when needed. The rear axle uses a mechanical limited slip differential, while the front uses an electronic system controlled by the car's ESP computer.
Building a Strong Core
The biggest advancement in the Aventador may be at its very core. While previous Lamborghinis have been constructed using steel and aluminum, the new car is the first mass production Lamborghini to use a full carbon-fiber monocoque. The entire passenger compartment is built using pre-preg carbon-fiber composite with aluminum subframes front and rear. The entire chassis weighs in at 505 pounds. The new construction methods are also said to give the Aventador a 70% stiffer chassis than the Murcielago at 35,000 Newton-Meters per Degree of Deflection. For a comparison, the Countach measured in at 2600 NM/Deg. The Aventador's dry weight is 3472 pounds. The stripped out Murcielago Super Volce weighed 3450 pounds dry, but comfort was certainly sacrificed to get to that low weight. The standard LP640 weighed in at 3670 pounds dry and just over 4000 pounds ready to roll.
Spring in Its Step
The suspension on the Aventador also is a first for mass production Lamborghini. Full aluminum unequal length control arms use pushrods to actuate inboard mounted springs and dampers. Not only does this design reduce unsprung mass, it also moves that mass to the center of the car while also allowing more space for the huge rubber. The 255/35/19 front and 335/30/20 rear tires are supplied by Italian manufacturer Pirelli. The massive front-to-rear size difference helps to compensate for the 43/57 front/rear weight bias of the big engine Lambo.
Wires and Knobs
No modern car is complete without a whole host of electronics, and the Aventador is no different. The standard package of electronic nannies includes ABS, electronic brake distribution, anti-slip control, speed-dependent servo-tronic steering, hill start assist, and ESP stability control. The rear spoiler and the side air intakes are electronically controlled. The Drive Select System enables vehicle characteristics (engine, transmission, differential, stability control, steering) to be set in accordance with individual driver preferences in one of three modes -- Strada (road), Sport and Corsa (track). The transmission operates in those three modes as well the addition of two fully automatic Strada and Sport modes. The computer-controlled center differential allows up to 60% of available torque to be sent to the front wheels as dictated by the ESP system.
Inspired by the Reventon, the instrumentation of the Aventador is based on aviation TFT-LCD screens. The displays are configurable by the driver to present whatever information deemed pertinent. Navigation, iPod integration, and Bluetooth are all standard, but there is an option for premium audio and a back-up camera.
Shiny or Dull It Still Looks Fast
The Aventador will be produced in 13 Lamborghini colors, with several available in a matte finish. They will of course do custom colors if the buyer so chooses. Interiors are available in either Sportivo or Elegante trim with black or brown standard colors, with a choice of stitching colors. Both trims are available in two-tone, with the Sportivo having a base color of black mixed with orange, white, yellow or green. The two-tone Elegante is done in shades of brown.