After what seems like an eternity, the car lurches as second gear is clumsily engaged. By coincidence, it’s a year to the day since our photoshoot of an Aventador S, and this harder, smarter SVJ is bringing memories of the Graziano seven-speed, single-clutch sequential gearbox shared across all Aventadors right back.
These transmissions can work exceptionally well, however. You just need to make sure your foot is flat to the floor and that the right-hand column-mounted shifter is pulled as near the red line as possible. Happily, we’re ascending out of this village and snaking up into the Dolomites. This should give a few opportunities to hunt down the 6.5-litre V12’s 8700rpm redline.
The snag? It’s December, and given the location, we’re at high altitude. With the Aventador’s thermometer readout displaying -4 degrees centigrade, it’s not what you’d call balmy. The outside world is looking increasingly blanketed in snow the more we climb, and to avoid the SVJ ending up as an untidy pile of carbonfibre and aluminium, it’s had vast Pirelli Sotto Zero winter tyres fitted.
Not a decision I’m going to argue with, but winter tyres do have downsides. The taller tread of these boots gives an extra element of flex, bringing about a sense of vagueness to the SVJ. That’s not something I really want while charging up a mountain road with 759bhp waiting to be liberated with each prod of a slightly damp Vans trainer.
The sense of just how much space the Aventador takes up on the road is inescapable. But it doesn’t feel as big as it should when navigating this ever windier piece of tarmac - the rear-wheel steering system can be thanked for that.
The attitude of the front wheel steering contributes too - lock is applied with absurd speed as the steering wheel is turned. The setup is a little light, but there is feedback getting through, even if it’s stunted by the winters.
A couple of switchbacks threaten to reveal any inherent understeer in the SVJ’s chassis, but none can be found. It’s not all that eager to do much at the rear either.
Up ahead, there are first of several tunnels I know to be on the route. On this occasion, the windows stay up. I don’t want to take any concentration away from the road and the Aventador’s electric window switches aren’t exactly in a prime slot - they sit either side of the centre console for some unfathomable reason. It doesn’t matter - even fully enclosed, the noise is shocking. Brutal. And quite fantastic.
The Aventador’s V12 lets out a distorted shriek that rips through the air. I’m almost glad it wasn’t possible to remove and store the roof panels before setting off, otherwise I might be completely deaf by now.
I spy somewhere to pull over, allowing Tom - the photographer who’s accompanied me on this short blast - to extract himself from the 15kg case of gear he’s been pinned down by since we set off. We didn’t even bother trying to see if it would fit in the frunk. If you want a practical supercar, look elsewhere.
I’m instructed to session the trickiest set of corners for the camera. On this stretch, there’s only the occasional opportunity for wide-open throttle and the odd angry, thumping gearshift at the upper reaches of the rev range. Carrying a bit of speed on the approach to a switchback, I brake hard. The ABS has a massive hissyfit as it tries to slow the car down while avoiding a lock-up on the wet, slippery tarmac. Buttocks firmly clenched, the necessary speed has been scrubbed off in plenty of time, but it’s clear these are not supercar-friendly conditions.
We move further up the road for one last set of pictures, but that’s it for our climb - from here, the road straightens out before arriving at a ski resort. Instead, we turn around and charge back down to a marginally warmer altitude.
The tighter section is soon dispatched, leaving a set of fast, sweeping turns between us and the village where we started. Here, the SVJ feels a little more at home. This is a car that needs space to be at its best.
"The SJV harkens back to a time when supercars had quirks and personality in spades"
It also needs speed - the kind that we won’t be getting anywhere near today. The SVJ’s party piece is ALA - Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva - an active aero system that goes far beyond the usual deployable wings and spoilers.
There are two flaps on the front splitter, which open when you’re driving in a straight line, channelling air under the body to reduce drag and increase top speed. At the same time, a flap at the rear remains open, stalling the fixed rear wing to achieve the same effect.
When you brake, the slots at the front and the flaps at the back shut to increase downforce, and as you turn through a corner, one rear flap will open to stall only one half of the wing, helping the car turn.
We rejoin the Lamborghini convoy bang on time, handing the Aventador over to a new temporary custodian. A quick refuel later - 99-octane unleaded for the SVJ, mulled apple juice by an open fire for me - and I find myself riding in an Urus as the chain of Bulls makes its way back up the mountain. The Huracans and the SVJ playfully slip and slide around on the final, snow-covered piece of road, but make it to the top without any issues.
Stationed at a cafe up the top, I’ve time for one last drive of the day, provided by the Huracan Evo. Dropping 130bhp, I’m left with an output I can use a much greater portion of. Even in Corsa mode, the damping seems more in tune with road driving, while the dual-clutch gearbox will efficiently swap cogs with zero effort. Despite the deficit of two cylinders, it even sounds better.
On these same roads, the SVJ was much harder to work with. It was more thrilling, certainly, but I’m not sure I’d call the experience ‘fun’. I suspect its the drive in the Aventador which will be etched more deeply into my memories, though.
Just like the S we drove last year, the SVJ seems to have missed the memo that supercars are supposed to be useable, practical and approachable. No - it completely shits over that idea. It harkens back to a time when supercars had quirks and personality in spades.
Driving it in an environment like this, then, feels like an achievement has been unlocked. Surrounded by a blanket of snow, splattered in road grime, it is - at this moment - the best-looking car in the world as far as I’m concerned. It’s taken on winter, and it’s won.