Since its debut in 2011, the Aventador has been Lamborghini’s flagship V12 production model. Yes, there have been some limited-production specials, but it has been the Aventador that has flown the V12 flag for the Italian sports car maker. Now, Lamborghini is sending off this classic model in style with a limited run of the Ultimae edition, which will include 350 $498,258 coupes and 250 $546,847 convertibles.
As part of this final upgrade, the Aventador’s sonorous V12 gets one last performance upgrade, a boost of 10 horsepower, to 770 hp from the SVJ, which was the previous most-powerful edition. When the car debuted, the engine was rated at 690 hp.
The Aventador’s replacement will retain the current car’s V12 and will supplement it with a hybrid-electric assist, so it will be even more powerful. It will also have the ability to drive short distances on electric power alone, which will preserve access to the European cities whose cores are restricted to electric power only. As a hybrid, it will be more complex and heavier.
Traditionalists would say that a hybrid is less pure, even with the V12 still aboard, so the Ultimae is truly the end of the line for them. The hybrid will also surely replace the Aventador’s Graziano automated manual transmission with a smoother-shifting dual-clutch arrangement. Or, it will at least use the electric motor to fill in the torque so that shifts are smoother than the current car.
The lurching shifts are more pronounced during everyday driving, with the car’s mode selector set to Strada (street). Sport mode speeds the shifts, making them quicker, but harsher, and Corsa mode makes them fastest still. On the racetrack, in Corsa mode, the shifts feel seamless, but on the roads around Lamborghini’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the old familiar jerkiness on casual shifts remains to the very end.
As ever, there’s a sense of occasion when flipping up the Aventador’s scissor door and lowering yourself into the driver’s seat. The starter button resides beneath a bright red protective cover in the center console. The available driving mode buttons are just above it, saving the driver from navigating through on-screen menus or rotating through selections. The Aventador driver presses the left or right buttons to illuminate their choice of mode and they are done.
I engage first gear with a pull of the right-side shift paddle and the Aventador can blast to 60 mph in less than 2.8 seconds. This is due in part to the low mass of the car’s carbon fiber chassis, which has been optimized in Ultimae to help whittle another 55 lbs. from the car’s weight compared to the Aventador S.
Like the Aventador S, the Ultimae features rear-wheel steering. In the circuitous mountain roads outside Bologna, the rear steering helps the Aventador chase its tail around hairpin corners where you might expect a car of this length to struggle making the turn. Importantly, it provides that assistance without ever feeling intrusive or noticeable in its action.
Turn the car in and it just goes, without any of the artificiality of some variable-ratio steering systems or other steering-related technologies.
As Lamborghini engineers have explained, the Aventador’s massive brakes are optimized for street use, so it is no surprise to find that the Ultimae’s brakes feel progressive and confidence-inspiring on public roads. The SVJ, when tested on the track, reveals the shortcomings of this approach, as the brakes become spongy and erratic at track speed. But the payoff is on the road, where Lamborghinis are realistically used almost entirely. Here, the brakes feel great, there is no grabbiness, as is characteristic of Ferrari brakes, and there is no squeaking.
Befitting a final edition model, Lamborghini’s designers have devised a fresh palette of 18 standard color options for the Ultimae. Customers can, of course, choose from a nearly infinite variety of shades among the 300 available colors in Lamborghini’s Ad Personam personalization program. My test car was finished in the signature launch edition two-tone gray configuration, with red accents on the car’s details.
No matter how it is decorated, every Ultimae will be the ultimate expression of Lamborghini’s V12 know-how.
“The Aventador LP 780-4 denotes the final, purest, timeless naturally-aspirated production V12 Lamborghini,” said Automobili Lamborghini president and CEO Stephan Winkelmann. “It delivers the essential twelve-cylinder experience in terms of inimitable design, engineering solutions, and the most emotive driving experience, and is the definitive Aventador concluding an extraordinary era.”
An emphatic conclusion it is!