The hero of the 300kmph club cover story of the evo India launch issue was the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4. Except when we hit the track it started raining. Gulp!
It’s raining buckets. Sheets of water lash the BIC that would have even the SLS AMG safety car pull into the pits and the Formula 1 race red flagged. It’s treacherous out on track. Somebody points out the Lambo has all-wheel-drive and should be okay. Another attempts to count the zeroes on its price tag. The latter wins. The Lambo continues to sit the pits, the rest of us just stand and stare. Few words are exchanged. This is incredible. Just having an Aventador to touch, feel, run a finger over, is an event nobody will forget in a hurry. Pictures are taken: proper cameras, mobile phones, iPads. I play with the terribly, obviously, Audi key. The clouds show no sign of moving on.
Hussein swings a door open and a collective gasp is released. It might not be moving, it might not even be cranked up, but the Aventador has summoned a collective hard-on. Monica Bellucci whipping off her top wouldn’t command as much attention. This is fantasy land; the most outrageous shape in the automotive universe. Scissor doors! Has the automotive world been blessed with anything more erotic? Add to that a shape inspired by fighter jets and stealth bombers, a retina-searing paint job, a transparent engine cover and what you have is an automotive enthusiast’s wet dream.
The Aventador might be a totally clean sheet design, unlike the preceding Murcielago which was a heavily worked-on Diablo, but it is still a terrifyingly old-school supercar: massively wide, impossibly low and outrageously powerful. The 6.5-litre V12 is brand new but retains natural aspiration for that pure supercar experience. The headline figure is 690bhp (700PS hence the LP700-4). Clip on a pair of wings and it would take off. The performance puts it in an exclusive set that gets to 100kmph in under three seconds; 2.92 to be precise. 200kmph takes 8.87 seconds. And given enough of a runway it will get to 350kmph. Chew on those figures again. This is mind-numbing stuff.
As is the fact that the rain is not easing off!
Let’s wander in then. As theatrical as the exterior shape is, so too are the interiors which look like they have been pinched off a fighter jet. An awkward crawl into the driver’s seat and I’m faced with TFT dials; a big round tacho, a digital speed display and stuff around it which you really don’t notice, so overpowering is that tacho. Hunt for space to keep that big key and you remember that Lambos traditionally have space only for a credit card – everything can be purchased on arrival. Flip a bright red cover to access the starter button, don your helmet, and await coordinates for the bombing mission over Syria. It’s purely theatrical but wouldn’t the world be a duller place if not for all this drama?
I look at the clouds. God has now swapped buckets for mugs. Four-wheel-drive. I make puppy-dog eyes at Hussein, pump the starter button and the guards at the gates spill their tea once again. Do you left-foot brake? You better learn if you want to drive an Aventador. The pedal spacing is more sensible than a Murcie, hobbled as it was by the requirement to accommodate a massive right front, but still the accelerator is where you’d expect the brake to be. All my years of rallying are finally coming to good use!
Select first on the single-clutch transmission, a transmission Lamborghini claims is the fastest of its kind (in launch control mode it will up shift in 50 milliseconds) and lighter than the twin-clutches in Bugattis and Ferraris. The pits are exited rather jerkily. I don’t want to sound harsh but this is horrible! The transmission seems unable to creep and it shudders and jerks when the throttle is breathed upon.
It gets better as we exit the pits and I apply more throttle. No firecrackers erupt because I give the throttle only ten per cent. I am not popping my Lambo cherry here, I know what 690bhp behind my head can do to the time-space continuum. Gingerly I give it more revs, awfully the gears jolt into place and I feel the track for grip, try to memorise the pools of standing water (and streams of flowing water!), realise the ergonomics aren’t pre-historic as I have no problem increasing the speed of the wipers, also realise visibility is not bad at all for something so crazily low.
Lap one. Obligingly the rain is now down to a drizzle. I continue, build some speed now, the V12 clears its throat and everybody is out on the pit wall, rains be damned. I discover Sport Manual is the best mode on the gearbox and remember reading that lifting off the gas allows for smoother shifts. It does.
There are still puddles but the track has great drainage and the flowing water has stopped. Past the pit wall I muster courage and squeeze the loud pedal. The V12 has just 1000rpm on the counter yet it pulls like a freight train, and then it keeps going, building in urgency, the engine note sharpening and raising in intensity till it peaks in a shrieking crescendo at the 8250rpm rev limit. At which point tea cups all over the track are dropped and I wet my pants. It’s the devil proclaiming the impending apocalypse. The Lambo rains hellfire and brimstone. Signals the end of time. It’s is undoubtedly one of the finest V12s ever to be bolted to the back of any car. On the drying back straight I mash the throttle and the grip even on the wet surface is astounding, the accelerative force of the V12 pinning me painfully into the seat. The gearshifts, in Corsa mode, add to the physical violence of the experience, a supercar experience like nothing else. If there’s one car that should be on your bucket list, this is it.
I try to string together a few fast laps but the conditions aren’t conducive. The Aventador understeers into wet corners and the tail threatens to whip around with just a tickle of the throttle. Traction, thanks to all-wheel-drive and 335-section rear Pirellis, is phenomenal, the hydraulic steering is brilliantly talkative and there’s race-derived Ohlins push-rod suspension but a V12 supercar, one with a charging bull on the nose, needs to be treated with a healthy dose of respect, and I accord it that. This was the one car we could have done 300kmph on the back straight but in such conditions even 200kmph is impossible.
Low light calls time on our day. Hussein, my new best friend, jumps in and, takes off for home. Hussein is a champ, not because he has let me drive his car, but because of that figure on the odometer. 4200 kilometres. In Delhi, in a year, he has clocked over four thousand kays in – and let’s not kid ourselves here – a hardcore supercar. A supercar with a back-breaking ride on anything other than a race track. To put it into perspective my wife has done 10,000km in her car in two and a bit years and doesn’t bother taking it out in a downpour.
The sky has cleared now. Delhi, if it hasn’t already ground itself to a halt, soon will as an orange Lamborghini makes its way back home.
What a day!