Taking the Lamborghini Aventador S for a Spin in Valencia

#legend co-founder and creative director Gordon Lam gets behind the wheel

Maker of supercars Lamborghini unveiled its latest Aventador S in Spain, and #legend was lucky enough to be there to test drive the car. At the invitation of the Italian carmaker, motoring writers gathered in Valencia for an adrenaline-filled day, first on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, where motorcycles are raced, and later on the public roads.

A few weeks before I arrived I heard that rain had flooded most of Valencia. It was still raining on the day I arrived at the Hotel Balneario Las Arenas resort, where Lamborghini put me up. The rain dampened my mood. I thought I would be unable to push the Aventador S to the limit on a wet track, especially as I had never before driven a supercar on a race circuit.

Once I had checked in, Lamborghini staff gave me a sheaf of forms to fill in. The forms looked like my divorce papers, and I thought I might need a lawyer before I signed them. What could go wrong? I overheard another journalist ask the Lamborghini staff who would be liable if he crashed the car. The staff, sounding confused, said they would get back to him. I paused for a split second before handing over my forms. What the heck. I wonder how many motoring writers could afford to pay for a crumpled Lamborghini.

Gordon Lam races around the track

A dinner hosted by Lamborghini senior managers included traditional dry-cured Spanish ham and three kinds of Valencian paella. Over the meal, I picked the brains of veteran motoring writers who had steered supercars around racing circuits all their careers. They must have wondered what had possessed Lamborghini to invite a rookie like me.

The proof of the pudding was in the eating – for the car and for me – the next day. A fleet of Aventador S cars awaited the party of motoring writers at the track. A giant banner bore the latest Lamborghini slogan: “Dare Your EGO”. My ego – at least, at that point – could do without challenges, thank you.

Staff told us about the illustrious lineage of the Aventador S, which includes the Lamborghini Miura, Islero, Urraco and the Countach models. Lamborghini chief designer Mitja Borkert, who used to design for Porsche, said the inspirations for various aspects of the design of the latest Aventador S included spacecraft, jet fighters and venomous snakes.

the tools of the trade to make a Lamborghini include custom leather and carbon fibre parts

Chief of research and development Maurizio Reggiani described the technical features of the car as a collection of “four masterpieces”: four-wheel steering, four-wheel drive, four driving modes and active suspension on all four corners.

The 730-horsepower, 6.5-litre V12 engine propels the car from a standstill to 60 miles an hour (96 km/h) in 2.9 seconds and gives it a top speed of 349 km/h. Improved aerodynamics keep the car glued to the road, with the exterior redesigned to improve the front downforce by 130 per cent. The interior can be fitted out as you like it.

Below, Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali tells us what makes the Aventador S so iconic:

Lamborghini chief executive Stefano Domenicali gave us his blessing and the rain miraculously stopped just before we went out onto the track and climbed into our cars. The latest Aventador S allows the driver to choose one of four driving modes and to change easily between them. The Strada mode is the discerning gentleman. The Sport mode is for the keen connoisseur. The Corsa mode is for the extreme sports enthusiast. In EGO mode, the settings for the steering, power train and suspension are the settings preferred by the driver.

Each of us had a designated car and an instructor to help the driver settle into it. My designated Aventador S was in Corsa mode, for extreme sports enthusiasts. My instructor was an Italian who spoke no English. The track was still wet with rain.

Lamborghini chief executive Stefano Domenicali with Gordon Lam

A lead car driven by an expert led a convoy of three cars round the circuit. A radio link allowed the lead instructor to guide the other drivers round the track as swiftly as possible, giving the fastest line to take at each corner. My car was at the tail end of the convoy. After each lap, as planned, I moved up one place. By the third and final lap I was right behind the leader. As I floored the throttle to race after the tail lights of the lead car, I felt like a pro in my silver Aventador S.

The technology that goes into the latest Aventador S kept me on a safe course whenever I over-steered or under-steered and whenever I was late braking for a corner, no matter whether the track was wet or dry. The steerable rear wheels and aerodynamically induced down-force made me feel indestructible which was just as well because each time you change gear in Corsa mode it gives you a kick in the spine so hard that your body leaves its soul behind.

It was one of the most surreal yet exhilarating experiences I have ever had and I wanted more. I was no longer a rookie. I went on to try the Aventador S in each of its driving modes, relishing each lap – and especially my new ability to keep up with all those veteran motoring writers. At lunch, I could hold my head up high among my peers.

Watch the recap of the whole Lamborghini trip below:

The City of Arts and Sciences

In the afternoon, each of us took the Aventador S out on the road. In my case, I was allowed to drive it back to the hotel by myself, directed by the navigation system. I was more nervous about driving the car on the road than on the track but the navigation system told me with extreme precision what lay ahead and I was soon breaking every speed limit along the route. My Aventador S – this time in red – attracted admiring looks from other road users: waving pedestrians, women drivers who couldn’t stop gawping, children in the back seat urging their mums to drive faster to keep up and truckers winding down their windows to bellow in Spanish. I felt like a rock star.

At the celebratory dinner that evening, given by Lamborghini at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, I probably acted like a rock star – and not just any rock star but one ready to accept a Grammy. Now all I can think about is my next gig with a supercar.

​Still want more? Come on a ride with us below with our 360° video:

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In this Story: #culture / #art & design