Lamborghini Veneno: We hitch a ride in the Rs 28 crore supercar
I don't think I want to do this... I've been given my first chance to drive both the Gallardo and Aventador on a track for the first time and I'm seriously considering passing on the opportunity. Why? Well for starters it's been raining all weekend and the track is full of standing water. To make matters worse the mercury is hovering below 4 degrees and I haven't dared ask what the track temperature is. My shoes are wet and my toes and fingers are frigid. I really don't think I want to do this
The 750PS engine screams its way to the 8000rpm red line and sounds even louder than the race Gallardo
570PS in the convertible Gallardo Performante sounds better than 700 in the Aventador for a newbie that is
Compounding my apprehension is the pre drive briefing. Sven, the Lamborghini instructor tell us that Vallelunga is a fast but narrow track with plenty of crests and drops that makes it 'tricky'. He goes on, "it's very wet out there so keep good distance in case something goes wrong". Thanks Sven, you're a real confidence booster.
The treat of the day had to be the taxi ride in the Veneno because I'm one of the first journalists in the world to experience this machine
I decide to start with the 'underpowered one'. 570PS in the convertible Gallardo Performante sounds better than 700 in the Aventador. Immediately I realize they weren't joking. The track is very wet and I'm very grateful for the four wheel drive system. The Gallardo is still proving to be a proper handful. It wants to drift all the time in any of the first three gears and it isn't fond of standing water. Nevertheless, after a very cautious first lap I start seeing the traction control light flicker less and less and start getting into the groove chasing the blinding spray from the bright orange Aventador ahead of me. The Performante feels like a proper track car. It's very stiff, the heavy steering communicates well and the brake pedal while also heavy provides stupendous performance when you really step on it. Just as I start getting comfortable my allotted two laps are over and it's time to take on the big boy.
Limited traction control is not a wise choice the first time you drive a 700PS supercar in the wet
The Aventador immediately feels not just bigger, but so much more of an occasion. The engine revs up so fast that you can't believe you've already hit the 8000rpm ceiling. The gearbox is unusual; shift up and following a short delay the gear bangs into place and gives you massive, almost too much propulsion. You can feel the front wheels scrabbling away and the blood rush to the back of your head as the engine screams to the redline. This was in road going Strada mode. I'm sure the shifts would have been quicker in the track focused Corsa mode but that comes with limited traction control. Limited traction control is not a wise choice the first time you drive a 700PS supercar in the wet which is why I chose to stay in Strada. Nevertheless I quickly discovered that lifting off the throttle while shifting significantly improves the smoothness of the power delivery. It goes without saying that you have to be extremely careful with the throttle. Too much and you'll understeer into the corner before exiting it the wrong way around. This car demands respect and will beat you into submission if it doesn't get it. After my two laps I'm certain an Aventador would be quicker around a lap but the Gallardo Performante feels so much sharper and tighter. Given a choice I'd take the smaller one any day of the week.
This car demands respect and will beat you into submission if it doesn't get it
The treat of the day had to be the taxi ride in the Veneno because I'm one of the first journalists in the world to experience this machine. What put the Veneno into perspective was the way chief tester Giorgio Sanna floored it as soon as we were out of the pit lane. The fact that this is the one of only four Venenos in existence certainly wasn't slowing him down. Where I was gingerly feathering the throttle and still having the Aventador violently twitch on the drenched track, Sanna had hit fifth gear and crossed 200kmph with a violence that I will never forget. I have been to a fair amount of taxi rides with top drivers in very powerful cars but nothing came close to this.
The engine revs up so fast that you can't believe you've already hit the 8000rpm ceiling
You can feel the front wheels scrabbling away and the blood rush to the back of your head as the engine screams to the redline
The 750PS engine screams its way to the 8000rpm red line and sounds even louder than the race Gallardos. Blood curling would be an apt description. And then there's the mid corner grip. The Veneno doesn't just look like a race car with lights. It is one. Sanna wasn't letting off in the corners, splashing through puddles to find apexes and controlling a slithering monster on exits. All I could do was sit in the passenger seat with a massive smile masking my sheer disbelief. The 4.1km lap was over before I knew it and I emerged with more adrenaline coursing through my veins than when I had driven the Aventador myself. I entered the Veneno thinking that it was simply an outrageous machine. I got out in complete awe of its outrageousness.