The continuing evolution of the Lamborghini Aventador reaches a new level of specialized refinement with the release of the SVJ Roadster, a track-focused wonder that is now in production for a run of 800 units and offered in the United States at a base price of $573,966.
Launched in 2011, the Aventador replaced the Murciélago at the top of Lamborghini’s lineup. The Aventador SV came along in 2015, first as a coupe and then the following year as a roadster. The SVJ coupe (SuperVeloce Jota, standing for superfast with track prowess) appeared in 2018. The SVJ suffix recalls variants of the classic Miura P400 that were created in 1970 and 1971.
Compared to the Aventador SV Roadster, the open-top SVJ has a new front fascia and doorsills with wider air intakes before the massive rear tires. The engine cover of carbon fiber is also unique and, of course, a clear panel affords a view of the 6.5-liter V-12 power plant, which now produces 770 hp (at 8,500 rpm) and 531 ft lbs of torque (at 6,750 rpm). Under the seven-speed automatic transmission’s meticulous stewardship, the car rushes from zero to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 217 mph.
Ranging from just a blip of the throttle to sustained high-rpm operation, the engine strikes notes varying from a minor nervous breakdown to dueling symphony orchestras reaching full crescendo while the audience goes mad.
Yet the key technical feature is Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva 2.0, or ALA: the active aerodynamic system first seen in the Huracán Performante. ALA selects routes for in-rushing air and regulates downforce and drag, depending on requirements as determined by the car’s active dynamics system, called Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Attiva 2.0, or LDVA. Electronically actuated flaps open inside the front splitter to channel air along the underbody, reducing downforce and minimizing drag. The rear wing also has flaps within the central pylon, and these open according to the LDVA’s dictates, sending air through exit slots on the trailing edge to reduce drag and downforce. All this is useful in achieving high speed. But if the driver applies the brakes, the flaps close to steady the car. Lamborghini says the result is a 40 percent improvement in aero efficiency compared to the SV Roadster.
When the convertible version of the SVJ is turning, ALA has the ability to vector air and “stall” half the wing, depending on the turning direction. This favors the inside rear wheel with downforce while freeing the outside one. It’s a well-conceived system and has its greatest effect on the track, but we can’t testify to its effectiveness, as our test was limited to public roads.
The two carbon-fiber roof panels detach by lever action and tuck away under the front hood. Aero efficiency is unaffected by the removal of the panels. A pair of wind-blockers—long and narrow rectangular frames around mesh inserts—live in a molded case that attaches to the underside of the hood itself; these pieces clip to the windshield frame to add a useful extra defense against buffeting. Cockpit conditions are good enough without the blockers, but it’s worth troubling about the small difference. We didn’t even bother with the audio system because an open-air car with V-12 sonorities is too-seldom encountered.
That is, unless one becomes the lucky owner of an SVJ Roadster. Then the question concerns which of the nearly 350 colors to choose. The car was revealed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in a lustrous bronze. For our test, we jumped into a tangy Scandal Green number, which is an almost standard-issue tone for Lamborghini. Every aspect of the car overfills the visual sense, and although there are strange lines and exaggerated shapes inside and out, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This is an exciting car. For evidence, we can cite the photographers who materialized out of nowhere, and the hyperventilating motel owner in whose parking lot we made a U-turn: he begged us not to pull back onto the road until he’d made a video. Being an extrovert—as well as having the $662,661 option as our tester—doesn’t hurt.
This Lamborghini offers an all-encompassing, fully involved driving experience that left us tingling. And even though we didn’t wring out even half of its potential, we felt strangely proud. Only a few will ever drive one. We did just that, experiencing the precise responses and the overpowering ones, too. Sitting behind the wheel of the SVJ Roadster is like finding the fourth ace in the deck. You know you’re winning.