Six years after the Lamborghini Aventador debuted in 2011, the Italian supercar manufacturer released a model dubbed the Aventador S. Following in the long tradition of historic S models, this incarnation of Lamborghini’s V12 car offered a visceral driving experience that combined cutting edge racing tech with 740 all-Italian horses under the hood. Car writers have called it ‘The Last Scary Supercar’. So what happens when you add 40 more horsepower into this corner-carving monster and shave off 25kg of weight from the car? You get the LP 780-4 Ultimae, which was launched in India last month, and isn’t a particularly surprising vehicle, by any means. With nearly 30 iterations across the last 11 years, Lamborghini has reimagined this platform more than several other manufacturers would dare to try. Across the decade, we’ve seen everything from flat upgrades to race-spec SVJs, early dances with hybrid systems in the Sian, and even a retro throwback with the LPI 800-4 Countach.

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The essence of this car lies in its naturally aspirated, pureblood V12 experience — the final chapter in a saga that started 60 years ago at a bustling workshop in Sant’Agata Bolognese, North Italy. Most people know that the company was born from a famous feud between carmakers Ferrucio Lamborghini and Enzo Ferrari. What few know is that Ferrucio was so driven by his desire to make the world’s greatest sportscar that he not only poached Ferrari’s genius automobile engineer Giotto Bizzarrini to craft his V12, but also some accounts suggest that he paid the ex-rival engineer a bonus for every horsepower he could squeeze over Ferrari’s competing ‘Tipo’ V12s. The resulting design was so robust, it carried on well into the 21st century. This classic V12 found its way into the Miuras, Diablos, and the Murciélagos that came immediately after Volkswagen’s takeover of the company in 1998.

When the Aventador burst onto the scene in the early 2010s with the new L539 engine, the first was the first complete redesign of the V12 in decades, its stealth-jet aesthetics made the outgoing Murcielago seem boring by comparison. According to Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkleman, the team behind the project flipped around their usual supercar priorities by choosing handling over top speed, and still produced a road-going rocket capable of 350 kmph. This audacious group of Italians and Germans continued with their innovations in the several iterations that followed, including the lightning-quick SuperVeloce LP 750-4, and the lap time-devouring SVJ, which smashed Porsche’s Nürburgring records in 2018.

The Ultimae follows in the long tradition of these iconic cars, taking one step closer to the edge. For a car without forced induction or electric motors, the spec sheet of the belief. Along with generous carbon fibre trimmings, the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Attiva (LDVA) system and rear-axle steering continues Lamborghini’s handling-first, speed-second philosophy. The 6.5L V12 in its naturally-aspirated form, sounds absolutely primal — a roaring, theatrical introduction to one of the most mechanically engaging drives ever engineered. The engine that peeks through the rear panels of the Ultimae touches the apex old-school automobile engineering.

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Sadly, this will be the engine’s last hoorah, as Lamborghini joins the long list of carmakers who are phasing out internal combustion engines in favour of hybrid and electric battery powered engines to meet stringent new emission standards around the world.

Lamborghini’s foray into the world of electric engines began in September 2019 when the company unveiled the Sián FKP 37, the first supercar powered by a combination of a V12 engine and hybrid- based supercapacitors instead of the usual, heavyset lithium-ion batteries. Sián remains Lamborghini’s most powerful production car. For Lamborghini India Head Sharad Agarwal, this confluence between his company’s past and future is as exciting as it is emotional, given that his successful six years with Lamborghini coincide with the Aventador’s final goodbye.

“The day we launched it, it became an icon,” shares Agarwal proudly at the Ultimae’s launch event in New Delhi last month. “Along this journey, we’ve seen so many models too. With such a strong platform [with the Aventador], we were able to bring so much innovation to the table — so many designs and technologies over the years. We sell dream cars, after all,” he says with a grin. “Our customers always expect that our new models will bring better performance, and better experiences than the ones that came before.” Lamborghini has drawn up a detailed roadmap for electrification across their product range in the 2020s with targets aggressive enough to give Ferrari a run for their money. “Our first step was to celebrate the internal combustion engine between 2021-22, which we have now done by releasing the last Aventador, the Ultimae. By 2024, we’re going to hybridise our entire lineup, for both V10s and V12s. In the second half of this decade, we’re going to bring in our fourth model: a fully-electric platform,” says Agarwal.

“However, our take on electric is going to be quite different from what you’ve seen. We don’t want to be the first ones in this segment, rather, we want to be the best. We’re taking the time to evaluate all the technologies at our disposal, because we’re determined to stay true to who we are. The performance, and the driving dynamics of our car are our top priorities, because that’s what our customers want and expect.” These are ambitious milestones that teams at Bologna will have to meet and likely exceed, given Lamborghini’s obsession with all things superlative. Fortunately, the company seems to have done more than simply innovate — its business stratagems across the last few years have worked wonders as well, especially through best- selling models such as their V8-powered super-SUV, the Urus. CEO Stephan Winkelmann goes so far as to credit the Urus for doubling company volumes, an unheard-of feat anywhere else in the Supercar industry, while providing the financial stability required to massively expand Lamborghini’s development and production facilities in North Italy. 

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This trend is strongly visible in India, where driving conditions and Lamborghini’s powerful cultural clout drew in a slew of excited buyers, ranging from local business tycoons to Bollywood celebrities. “Looking at our segment’s history,” explains Agarwal, “the super-luxury segment has faced a lot of challenges in India, whether we’re looking at infrastructure, policies, taxation, and more.” “We’ve seen great potential in India, however, especially in the process of reaching out beyond India’s tier-1 cities. Today we can see a Lamborghini right from Jalandhar, Amritsar, Kanpur, Lucknow, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bhopal, Indore, we even have customers in Sri Lanka and Daman. While most of our customers are third or fourth generation businessmen, we’re also holding events and programmes focused on bringing our driving experiences to first-generation entrepreneurs and women.” As for the Aventador Ultimae, it delivers more than what any superfan would expect— a perfect balance of power, responsiveness, and tactile precision. For those fortunate enough to own one, we hope they keep those downshifts coming – each mighty roar of a swansong, echoing across six decades of pure automotive passion.