Eight Seconds or Bust! _
Born out of spite and a general malaise for Ferrari in 1963, the Lamborghini brand has always been synonymous with excitement, panache and wow factor!
The gorgeous Miura, extreme Countach, bodacious Diablo and menacing Murciélago are some of the important monikers that have defined this insatiable lineage of raging bulls from Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy throughout the company’s 54 years.
Remaining true to its V12 roots, the Aventador has been Lambo’s flagship super sports car since replacing the Murcié in 2011. Having surpassed 7,000 units built before its sixth birthday in fall 2017—chassis #7,000 being a 2017 Aventador S—it is undeniably the most popular V12-powered Lambo of all time. Its predecessor tapped out at only 4,099 units during a 10-year run.
Launching the Aventador S from a standstill really can take your breath away. With 740 horses and 507 torques under foot, that magnificent rear-mounted 60-degree V12 engine helps propel the 1,575-kilogram supercar to super-illegal speeds in just a few breaths—if you remember to breathe at all that is. Simply hearing it rev to its 8,500-rpm redline is enough to make adrenaline course through your veins, but gnashing through the Independent Shifting Rod (ISR) seven-speed dry dual-clutch automatic gearbox certifies things up to a 350 km/h Vmax.
The fourth-generation Haldex four-wheel drive system helps bite off zero-to-100 km/h in less than three seconds, the completely redesigned triple-outlet exhaust system barking loudly and proudly all the way. Toss in a four-wheel steering system that gets better the faster you drive, a trick “magneto-rheological” suspension with horizontally-opposed dampers, and a cutting-edge lightweight carbon fibre monocoque chassis with aluminum frames, and we’re talking true car porn. And I haven’t even mentioned the four drive modes yet.
With looks that can kill and performance bits to die for, owning an Aventador S is a sign that you’ve made it. But just because you’ve made it, doesn’t mean you know how to drive it. Money before brains is all-too-common in the supercar playbox. After all, it’s just money! Right?
Fact is, the majority of the driving public will never be able to afford a car like this, let alone drive one. So, what if I told you don’t need a Swiss bank account, or highly advanced driving skills to pilot a Lamborghini? I’m betting your interest has been peaked. Now to whet your appetite.
You see, driving a Lamborghini on a racetrack has been on my bucket list for years, and I’m finally able to checkmark it off vis-à-vis the Lamborghini Esperienza Toronto event hosted last fall by the automaker’s motorsport arm, Squadra Corse, at Ignition’s home track in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a.k.a Mosport.
Part of the Italian supercar maker’s overall driver development efforts, Esperienza is the bottom rung of the proverbial ladder. These exclusive half-day events are designed for potential buyers, and highlight the performance, power and control of these fine Italian automobiles. Guests are encouraged to test the limits of the car and themselves on some of the world’s most prominent tracks under the guidance of professional Lamborghini instructors. For my visit, former FIA GT driver Paolo Biglieri led an experienced team of instructors, including IMSA sportscar and prototype driver Ashley Freiberg, to name a few.
Now, I’ve driven all kinds of high-end sports and supercars at CTMP and other exotic locales, but Lamborghinis have somehow eluded me in my near two decades as a motoring journalist. Sure, I’d puttered around a wet Hockenheimring paddock in a tuned Gallardo and Murciélago 10 or so years ago for a photoshoot, but that was it. (Talk about getting blue balls in the worst way.) So when I finally got my turn at the wheel, I’m just glad the slow ones were behind me because I was in full attack mode to take advantage of what little time I’d have.
Our group of automotive media was split into two groups with mine starting on the (wet) autocross course—familiar territory as AJAC’s TestFest event has offered up similar conditions two years running. You’d think the 2,030-mm wide Aventador S would feel sluggish, with not enough steering for just 11 tight turns, including a 180-degree hairpin and hard ABS into a stop box. Not so. In fact, it steers quite nicely in the normal Strata driving mode with the torque being split 40/60 to the front and rear axles, respectively.
The chassis livens up noticeably when Sport mode is selected and up to 90 per cent of the power is going to the rear wheels. The complaint that the Aventador has trouble maneuvering in close quarters has been quashed by engineers thanks to the stabilizing effect of the rear-wheel steering.
It works like this: At low speeds, the front wheels face the opposite direction to the steering angle, thereby virtually shrinking the wheelbase. With less steering wheel angle required, the Aventador S is more agile with a reduced turning radius, ensuring higher performance in curves and making it easy to maneuver in town, and at low speeds. Conversely, at higher speeds, both the front and rear wheels share the same steering angle, thus virtually extending the wheelbase, providing increased stability and optimizing the responsiveness of the car.
Out on CTMP’s driver development track (DDT), switching to the track-focused Corsa mode transfers some of that power back to the front wheels (now 20/80) for a more neutral feel. Corsa mode also dials back the traction controls somewhat to let those willing to prod this bull’s massive potential take advantage of the sharper turn-in and more stable high-speed cornering the four-wheel steering imparts.
While I would have prefered to be out on CTMP’s full Grand Prix circuit to experience more of the Aventador S Coupé’s considerable powerband on the 1.6 km long Andretti straightaway and its long sweeping curves, the DDT’s tighter, more rhythmic curves and more abrupt elevation changes are well-suited to the car, too. I’m happy to report that I covered the bull for my full eight seconds.
There are more advanced programs for those who are serious about getting into motorsports competition (see sidebar). In fact, the Squadra Corse supports multiple entries in 13 different GT championships on four continents, sanctions four Super Trofeo customer racing championships on three continents, as well as develops young race drivers in various GT, formula and karting series’ around the world.
Esperienza events are by invite-only from dealers. Naturally, gourmet refreshments and world-class hospitality in the Lamborghini Lounge in between lapping sessions complete the experience. Were I in the market to buy the poster car of my youth, attending an event like the Lamborghini Esperienza Toronto would surely tip the scales.
A 2018 schedule is in the works, and spaces will go fast, so if you want one you’ll need to visit an authorized dealer in either Calgary, Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver and raise your hand… Just be ready to grip that rope tightly when the bucking chute opens for your turn.