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2017 Lamborghini Aventador S: the right car for a racetrack

A little evolution now and then is a good thing.

That distorted maxim holds true for the Lamborghini Aventador. Originally released as a 2012 model, Lambo’s most-expensive supercar boasted loads of technology derived from Formula One, but it had some issues. It was heavy, it understeered on a track, and it would soon be outperformed by its less-exclusive little brother, the Huracán.

For 2017, Lamborghini has transformed the Aventador into the Aventador S, increasing output of the 6.5-liter V-12 from 691 to 730 horsepower and adding performance upgrades to fix many of its issues.

I detailed those changes when I drove the Aventador S during Monterey Car Week in August, but a little refresher is in order here because many of the changes affect how the car acts on a racetrack.

The “Four Masterpieces”

Lamborghini calls four of the upgraded vehicle systems the “four masterpieces.” They include the all-wheel-drive system, the new rear-axle steering system, the four driving modes, and the new active suspension with magnetorheological dampers.

The all-wheel-drive system is paired with a new set of Pirelli P Zero tires designed especially for the car. The system has also been recalibrated to work with the rear-wheel steering and to send less power to the front wheels to allow more oversteer.

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The rear-axle steering can turn the rear wheels 3 degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts at lower speeds, effectively “shortening” the wheelbase by 19.7 inches. Or, it can steer with the fronts by 1.5 degrees to add stability at high speeds. For a car that can top 200 mph, that high-speed stability is crucially important.

Drivers can now choose from four driving modes instead of three. Strada (street), Sport, and Corsa (track) carry over, but a new Ego mode allows drivers to choose among Strada, Sport, and Corsa settings for the engine, transmission, all-wheel-drive system, steering, and suspension.

The magnetic ride dampers give the Aventador S a softer ride in Strada mode and firm it up in Corsa, making the car either more livable or more trackworthy. The suspension also has new rear springs, and new geometry for the upper and lower arms and wheel carriers to reduce caster and load on the system.

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