If you’re one of those twisted souls who thinks Lamborghini’s scissor door-ed 631bhp V12 Murcielago wasn’t quite mad enough, this lighter, more powerful and carbon-clad limited edition SV (that's Super Veloce) just might do it for you. You can read our full first drive review of the new Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 Sport Veloce in the new June 2009 issue of CAR Magazine, but for now here's our brief web drive.
Why is the most hardcore Lamborghini Murcielago an SV and not a Superleggera?
To maintain differentiation between the model lines Lamborghini has decreed that small hot Lambos will use the Superleggera tag and the big gun uses the SV suffix. This isn’t the first time the SV – or Super Veloce – badge has been attached to a V12 supercar. The badge first turned up in 1971 on the back of the fastest Miura, and then again in the 1990s on a hardcore Diablo. That's provenance for you...
So what has the Murcielago done to earn the SV moniker?
Get rid of its beer gut, basically. By using more carbon for the bodywork and a lighter steel chassis, stripping the interior and fitting a lighter exhaust, Lambo engineers trimmed 100kg from the kerbweight, which now stands at a respectable, if hardly Lotus-like 1565kg. Carbon brakes are standard, as is the semi-auto E-gear transmission, although you can have a traditional three-pedal manual set-up if you prefer.
The final touch is a mildly reworked version of the 6.6-litre V12. The new exhaust, changes to the induction system and valve timing result in 661bhp, up from 631bhp in the standard car. Factor in the weight reduction and the power-to-weight ratio jumps by 43bhp to 422bhp per tonne.
So the LP670-4 SV is hugely faster?
It doesn’t look that way on paper, the sprint to 62mph dropping by two tenths from an already sensational 3.4sec. And top speed climbs by just 2mph to 212mph, unless you order the Aero pack which includes the big wing (surely a visual must-have – as fitted in our pictures), dropping the max to 209mph.
The Lambo SV feels more urgent in a straight line, emitting a harder-edged wail under full throttle, and tweaks to the E-gear system mean shift times are quicker too, albeit not as harsh as the LP560-4’s in Corsa mode. But when it comes to turning and braking, that’s when you feel the difference. The carbon brakes are actually identical to those available optionally on the regular Murcielago but you’d never believe it from the pedal feel and stopping power. It’s all down to getting rid of that 100kg.
The handling benefits of the diet are equally noticeable. The SV turns in more satisfyingly and doesn’t understeer as much. And with less mass to keep in check, the body control is much improved on really fast corners when the back end of the standard car can get a little floaty. We drove the two back to back and the SV was in a different league.
The LP670-4 is rear-wheel drive, of course?
No, contrary to speculation, Lamborghini elected to keep the front driveshafts in place and miss out on a chance to drop 30kg instantly. All-wheel drive is part of the DNA of a high performance Lambo, R&D boss Maurizio Regiani tells CAR. And while some of you may be disappointed in that stance, having driven the SV hard on road and track, I can confirm that it’s anything but disappointing.
You get the benefit of tremendous traction out of corners, but since the transmission is heavily rear-biased, you can still tailor your yaw angle. You need commitment to get the SV out of shape: push timidly and it will understeer; be more confident, push harder and oversteer joins the menu, but don’t expect to drift it like an M3.
It looks like a stripped-out track day car inside!
Looks can be deceiving, although it’s perfectly suited to a good pasting on a circuit. There are carbon buckets and harnesses but refinement levels are really no worse than in the standard car. The ride is certainly firm for road use though, and Lamborghini couldn’t stretch to the huge expense of developing adaptive dampers for the SV’s limited 350-production run.
And of course it’s not the easiest car to drive in town, particularly if you’re strict about the weight savings and don’t order the optional infotainment system which includes a very useful reversing camera. Otherwise, you'll be lifting the doors and perching on the sill as you glide into a Waitrose bay.
A leaner, meaner Murcielago, the SV is the best of the series. Ferrari’s lighter and plain brilliant 430 Scuderia matches it dynamically but certainly not for aural and visual wows. Since we went to press with the magazine story, full prices have been announced, so we know that the £265,937 SV carries a £53k premium above the standard car. But adding E-gear and ceramics to the LP640 – as many owners do – would narrow the gap to nearer £30k.
Taking into account the extra visual punch, and improved dynamics, we’d have to say it’s worth every penny. You can read the full story in the June 2009 issue of CAR Magazine.