I feel that it wasn't too long ago that Lamborghini unveiled a new, limited-edition, hyper-expensive supercar to break records, and make your soul cry tears of joy. It was just a little over 2 weeks ago in fact, that they showed off the Sián, with its plethora of insanities. It was jampacked with space-age tech that we'd expect out of the Millennium Falcon, not a road-car. Yet, here they come with another one.
The Sián's sonorous naturally-aspirated V12 was mated to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which itself was connected to supercapacitors; a first in any automobile. Combining such a prehistoric engine with this ground-breaking tech sounded like an oxymoron, but it cheerfully made 819hp and clothed beneath a very striking bodywork. With all those boxes ticked, what else could Lamborghini have done to make another car stand out?
Well, as the Sián gave us a sneak peek into the world of automotive madness of the near future, this new Essenza SCV12 is a celebration of the past. Just like Gordon Murray's T.50, it shouts and screams a heartfelt goodbye to the internal combustion engine. However, while the Sián and T.50 need to conform to rules and regulations, Lamborghini's interpretation of peak fossil-fuel power is raw, untamed, and certainly illegal.
Au Naturel Combustion.
Credits to: Lamborghini Essenza SCV12
The SCV12 was first teased back in April, and something I wrote about in hush whispers, silenced by videos of its engine roaring to life. So far as us mortals are going to be concerned, this is one of those cars that we'll only ever be able to see doing the rounds on social media. Not only is it limited to just 40 units, but it'll likely be in a price bracket that even the most generous lotteries couldn't afford, after taxes. Plus, it's track only, thus not legal to drive on regular roads.
Underneath all that carbon-fibre cladding, it's a very familiar Aventador that we've been seeing for nearly 10 years now, but it's since been given a new set of tailored clothes. Later, its innards have been fettled with by none other than Squadra Corse, Lamborghini's in-house racing division, hence the name, "SC". The essence - "essenza" - are inspired in its engineering, technology, and aerodynamics from those mad racing cars.
This is by the same division that outfits cars for the one-make Lamborghini Super Trofeo series. Then, there's the Huracan GT3 cars, where the wealthy and enthusiastic customers can race them in FIA-sanctioned GT championships, which they've accrued 40 wins since 2015 alone. Clearly then, the SCV12 has a winner's DNA to shape from, and it'll even likely underpin Lamborghini's rumoured entry into the upcoming 'hypercar' category for Le Mans in 2021.
At its beating heart, the aptly-named SCV12 has the most powerful Lamborghini 12-cylinder engine ever made. As it's made for track-use only, it doesn't have to conform with restrictive emissions and sound regulations, allowing the engineers to open the taps just that bit bigger. Producing 830 naturally-aspirated horsepower, it's even more potent than the hybridised and supercapacitor-filled Sián, along with a peak torque of 614lb-ft at 7,000RPM.
Essentially, it's the same 6.5-litre mid-mounted V12 that Lamborghini's been using for ages, but its secret to added more is in the air, literally. They've adopted a ram-air intake system that creates power-uplift at speed, which Lamborghini calls, "aerodynamic supercharging". Air is directed from the bonnet's dual-intakes, which then goes to the roof-scoop. Here, it undergoes a process of forced-induction, where it pressurises the air internally before going to the intake manifold.
This surge of fresh oxygen into the engine is helped by a new twin-exhaust made by Capristo to reduce back pressure. It increases performance even more, letting the big V12 breath, and sing a much louder tune than before. The amount of horsepower that could be extracted from a N/A V12 astounds me, and it's even made me recalibrate my expectations to its capabilities. Lambo's SCV12 joins the ranks with other 12-cylinder'd non road-legal hypercars like Aston Martin's Vulcan, and Ferrari's FXX-K, though the latter does have a hybrid setup.
The rest of the mechanical bits have either been thrown out, or seen massive upgrades in the process. To help with weight-reduction and improved torsional stiffness - read: the stiffness of the chassis - components have been made to become structural elements in the newly-designed carbon-fibre monocoque chassis. This results in an overall respectable mass of just 1,380kg, which nevertheless translates to an astounding power-to-weight ratio of 601hp/tonne.
Taking inspiration from those race cars, the rear push-rod suspension is mounted onto the gearbox, acting as a load-bearing. Speaking of, the transmission is a shiny new sequential 6-speed from Xtrac, sending power to just the rear-wheels, as it should be. To which, there are lightweight magnesium-forged wheels, covered by some Pirelli slick tyres, and Brembo brakes to stop you on a dime.
A Diet Of Oxygen.
Credits to: Lamborghini Essenza SCV12
Just as impressive as the powerplant, is the SCV12's bountiful application of aerodynamics. In fact, it has higher downforce than those GT3 racers, with 1,200kg of air pushing down on the car at 250km/h (155mph). On the headlight-less front-fascia, splitters and winglets have been added to direct air onto its aforementioned bonnet, and along the sides. Here, we see a large vertical fin which channels the air into the side vents, cooling both the engine and gearbox.
The rest of the striking bodywork is made from just 3 elements, making sure that repairs while in pit-stops are easy and quick, though you'd pray you have enough in your Swiss bank account to fix it. All those angular cuts and slashes definitely makes the SCV12 distinctively Lamborghini, including the signature hexagonal geometry, and Y-shaped patterns. The strong Periscopio bodyline along the cabin to the rear is also a reminder to the old Countach, and the more recent Sián.
It's arse-end tapers off very aggressively into a Kamm-tail; a design trait meant to reduce aerodynamic drag. On the bottom, there's a huge double diffuser, working in tandem with the large adjustable, double-level rear-wing. Because clearly, one of each isn't enough to create downforce to keep all this horsepower grounded. At launch, there's a variety of wild or sedate colours to choose from - Verde Silvans, Grigio Linx, Nero Aldebaran Gloss, and Arancio California - which I can translate to as green, grey, black, and orange.
Credits to: Lamborghini Essenza SCV12
Moving inside, the interior puts on a great show of its weight savings, with thin layers of Alcantara hiding the bare carbon-fibre cabin. You sit securely on a pair of homologated OMP carbon-fibre bucket seats. Getting in and out of SCV12 should be easy enough, as the rigidity of that monocoque bodywork means that there's no need to install a roll-cage. No doubt, the highlight of this cockpit is the F1-inspired, removable steering wheel. There are too many buttons to count, but I'm guessing it'll let you check your stats with the built-in telemetry.
If that's not special enough of a package, Lamborghini will make sure to pamper its clientele even more. By owning an SCV12, you're enrolled into a special programme that includes storage facilities for your car, transport, and racing events at your favourite race-tracks. There's even an athletic training programme to get you into shape like a racing driver, while being tutored by 5-time Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro, and Squadra Corse's works driver, Marco Mapelli.
Simply put, the Essenza SVC12 is by no means a copy+paste of the Sián, as this new Lamborghini is everything great about the internal-combustion engine rolled into one, nearly-final hurrah. As the name suggests, it's an essence of what the purest, most unadulterated driving experience feels like; an overload of emotions without any red-tape or rules to oblige. It's the purity of the automobile turned all the way up to 11, and one that we will remember fondly in the decades to come. But which sort of madness would you prefer; the Essenza, the Vulcan, or the euphemistically-named FXX-K?