The 2012 Aventador LP 700-4 is the latest exotic sports car from Italy's Lamborghini, replacing the Murcielago. The "Aventador" name comes from a tenacious bull that squared off against bullfighters in the early 1990s. The LP stands for longitudinale posteriore, which describes the longitudinally mounted rear engine (technically mid-engine) in Italian. The 700 represents the car's horsepower, and the 4 is for four-wheel drive. At nearly $375,000, the two-seat Aventador has few competitors: The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and Lexus LFA are two, at least in terms of price.
The competition gets thinner in terms of performance, because the Aventador goes zero to 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 217 mph, according to Lamborghini. The model hits American shores in late summer 2011.
The Aventador combines Lamborghini's signature deft combination of curves and hard edges, and upward-opening scissor doors are present as expected. A powered rear spoiler tucks seamlessly into the tail and emerges only as speeds build. A tiered transparent cover that shows off the engine is optional.
Built of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic with aluminum subframes, the Aventador offers a choice of 13 colors, including three matte finishes. The brake calipers can be had in black, gray, yellow or orange.
The Aventador's interior is high-tech in look but refreshingly conventional in the location and function of its various displays and controls. The sharp-angled design theme continues inside, and neat touches include a covered, or guarded, start button and a main circular gauge that employs an LCD but looks like a conventional analog instrument.
There's no button shortage, but some features are controlled via a centralized display screen and the Human-Machine Interface, a multifunction controller-knob system borrowed from Audi, which shares Lambo's parent company, Volkswagen.
Typical of high-priced cars, the Aventador provides as options some features that are standard on lesser cars, including a backup camera and premium stereo.
Under the Hood
The Aventador is powered by a new 6.5-liter V-12 engine that delivers its peak 700 hp at 8,250 rpm and its 509 pounds-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm. It drives all four wheels through a seven-speed automated-manual transmission. Unlike many competing models, the Lambo transmission is a single- rather than a dual-clutch design, which the company says is lighter and has been updated to shift faster than previous versions. Manual-shift paddles are mounted to the steering column.
The Drive Select Mode System provides different driving modes for Corsa (track), Strada (road) and Sport, which is also for the road. It varies throttle progression, transmission behavior, steering assist and stability system responsiveness.
Lamborghini says the car's gas mileage is up 20 percent over the 2010 Murcielago, but at 13.7 mpg combined, fuel costs will be consistent with the car's overall price.
The Formula One-inspired chassis uses a double-wishbone suspension, front and rear, vented carbon-ceramic brake rotors and six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers. The front/rear weight distribution is 43/57 percent.
The Aventador comes standard with antilock disc brakes and an electronic stability system, as is required of all 2012 models. It has front, side-impact and knee airbags for both occupants.
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