The Lamborghini Aventador runs from 0 to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds. By BOB GRITZINGER on 5/20/2011
If you thought the struggling global economy or high fuel prices might be hurting the world's supply of top-notch supercars, think again.
Since March, AutoWeek editors have taken the wheel of not one, not two, but three of the most insane superperformers on the planet: the McLaren MP4-12C, the Ferrari FF, and most recently, the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4.
We see a few common threads: lots of lightweight aluminum and carbon-fiber materials, engines punching out more than 590 hp, automated-manual gearboxes, and prices that put them up against the average price of a three-bedroom home in most markets. In fact, the least expensive model on the block is the McLaren, with a base price checking in at a mere $231,000.
We're also seeing surprising refinement and driveability, as though supercar makers have finally come to realize that many of these cars spend more time preening along Rodeo Drive than running laps at Laguna Seca.
We're focusing our attention this week (and in the May 30 print and iPad editions of AutoWeek) on the latest of the breed, the 2012 Lamborghini Aventador. This is a car that we confidently named our Best in Show at the Geneva motor show in March, and now that we've driven it, our faith has been rewarded.
As the replacement for the Murci?lago supercar, the Aventador is as important to Lamborghini as the original Countach. But it's safe to say the Aventador--with its lightweight carbon monocoque and all-new 6.5-liter, 691-hp, 509-lb-ft V12 engine--is up to the challenge.
Though we never got a chance to test the car on public highways on a recent drive in Italy, we did log dozens of laps on the Vallelunga racetrack near Rome, running the car through its paces in each of its modes: strada, sport and corsa, the latter two in automatic and manual modes.
From the instant you flip up the red ignition-button cover and punch the Aventador's 12 raucous cylinders to life, you know you're in the cockpit of a special machine. In a car that runs to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, warp speed comes quickly, and the jump to hyperspace is only a punch of the accelerator away. At the same time, with brakes capable of slowing down from 62 mph in just 98 feet, the car seems much more under control than its wild-child pedigree might suggest. Braking was so spectacular that under hard braking, it was possible to feel minor pavement imperfections through the chassis.
We were particularly impressed with the car's intense grip and tractability, no doubt a function of sticky rubber, unseen stability and traction controls, and all-wheel-drive that instantly directs power to the wheels in the best position to push or pull the Lamborghini Aventador through a corner in the fastest possible manner.
It all comes together to make a car that quickly becomes second nature to drive hard and push to the limit, with spot-on steering, stunning handling and a far more civilized, functional and livable cockpit than we've ever seen in a Lamborghini.
The $387,000 supercar is sold out for the first 18 months of production, with initial deliveries starting late this summer. Lamborghini says it can build 750 cars per year for as long as there is demand.
Between the beatification of Pope John Paul II and Italy's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the country's unification, a lesser car might have been lost in the all of the hoopla. Instead, at least for car enthusiasts, the Lamborghini Aventador put everything else in the background.
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