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This Is What Happens When You Drive a Lamborghini for the First Time

12 cylinders, 740 horsepower, one CAA editor at the wheel

Sporty red Lamborghini Aventador S Coupe speeding down a racetrack

There’s not a lot that can prepare you for the experience of driving Lamborghini’s new Aventador S Coupé. Especially if your daily driver is, say, a 12-year-old SUV with child seats in the back. Climbing into the low seat of the 740-hp v12 supercar and pulling the scissor door closed, the first thing I noticed was the smell. The leather interior smells like success. Like a hedge-fund manager’s year-end bonus. Few will be able to afford the $463,775 price tag of this beast, but this is not a car made for ubiquity.

Pre-track prep time for this Aventador S

To show off the capabilities of the new and improved Aventador S, Lamborghini has organized a track day at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, just east of Toronto. We are first briefed by Paolo Biglieri, the lead instructor, who talks us through the three activities we’ll be doing: a short slalom course around a set of cones, a cornering exercise on part of the track and the hot lap (i.e., driving the full track as fast as we can).

Conference room with Lamborghini team in race car suits at front led by Paolo Biglieri 

Like the other four instructors, Biglieri is a professional driver and, after a short rundown, advises that “it’s better to feel the car than listen to me tell you about it.” Before ushering us out to the slalom course, he leaves us with this final bit of advice: “The most important thing is the rhythm,” he says. And “Please don’t hit the cones.”

Bracing for curves ahead

With that, I’m paired with instructor Kevin Conway, who sits in the passenger seat while I gingerly navigate the car around the pylons, leaving them all upright (!), but leaving Conway disappointed that I’m not driving very fast. The spec sheet says the Aventador S can go from zero to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds. That is very fast, and I take the point that I’m not doing the car justice with my too-cautious speed.

Smiling young woman with glasses poses with hands on wheel inside Lamborghini Aventador S Coupe 

The next time around, I lean a little too hard on the throttle and fishtail around one of the cones (but do not hit it!), and I notice Conway gripping the door handle a little more tightly. He seems pleased, though, and comments on how well the car regained control on the wet pavement, as it had rained that morning.

Picking up the pace

Moving onto the track, I now have Conway crackling over a walkie-talkie that’s clipped to the passenger seat belt. He’s driving the car ahead of me, expertly navigating around the corners, and I’m having a hard time keeping up. I often have a lead foot when driving on the 400, but I’m still trying to get my bearings in this (very expensive) car, and, to be honest, it’s a thrill just to be driving it, even at a moderate speed.

White checkered, yellow and black Lamborghinis speed down a race track 

Conway is coaching me to keep increasing my speed and trust the car. By the second lap, I’m feeling more comfortable behind the wheel (and more familiar with the track), and I take the turns a little faster each time. One of the marquee features of the Aventador S is control around fast corners, and you can really feel that stability. You expect to skid, but the tires stick to the ground without effort.

Speed round for the finish

Even on the fast lap, I can’t say that I ever hit the throttle hard enough to test the zero to 100 km/h capability. But when Conway took me around the track at the end of the session, the initial acceleration was nuts. It felt like my heart was in my throat and the skin on my face had been pulled back. This time, I gripped the door handle as we burned around corners, and when we finished going around the full track, I felt like I had just ridden the Leviathan roller coaster at Canada’s Wonderland 10 times in a row.

Bright red Lamborghini Aventador S Coupe speeding along with background out of focus 

It was exhilarating, terrifying and amazing.

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Image credit: Lamborghini