10 reasons the Essenza SCV12 is peak Lamborghini

By topgear, 15 July 2021

1. It’s loud. Probably the loudest thing ever

Ever heard an Aventador at full chat, or revving its knackers off? Double it, triple that, multiply it by five… then add two. You don’t so much listen to the SCV12 as feel it from head to toe - a wall of noise at idle to a deafening yelp when you tickle the throttle. You can forget having a conversation anywhere within a 25-metre radius of this thing when the engine’s on. From the passenger seat you feel everything, the pistons pumping, the gearbox smacking cogs together, the sounds waves pulsating… It’s a proper, hairy-chested, fuel-swilling, gas-belching sort of a supercar this thing, which as the world goes electric is increasingly rare.

What exactly is it? This is Lamborghini’s crack at the track-only hypercar market, think Ferrari’s FXX programme or Aston’s forthcoming Valkyrie AMR Pro. It’s not built for a particular race series, simply for very rich clients to enjoy on circuit, hence Squadra Corse has cut loose, building a no-holds barred racer that distils what the brand is all about – drama. The car we experienced at Goodwood was a prototype, hence the funky orange camouflage

2. It has the world’s angriest V12

We know Lamborghini’s naturally-aspirated 6.5-litre V12 quite well, but this one has been heavily tweaked to make it the most powerful V12 Lamborghini has ever produced. It makes 819bhp (the same as the new Ferrari 812 Competizione stat fans) at 8,500rpm (although it’ll keep going to 8,750rpm), and 760 Nm ft of torque at 7,000rpm. It also channels its anger through straight pipes. Hence the racket.

3. The gearbox is stressed out

A proper track monster deserves a proper racing gearbox – in this case an X-Trac six-speed sequential. And it’s this ‘box that defines the car, not just for the way it slams home the next ratio with ruthless efficiency, but because of its positioning. The entire engine has been rotated 180 degrees placing the gearbox behind the engine, not betwixt passengers and the block. And while the engine has it easy, sitting in a separate subframe, the gearbox is a fully stressed component, with the push-rod rear suspension bolted directly onto it.

4. It’s a Lamborghini long tail

You’ll have noticed a certain McLaren Speedtail vibe about the Essenza’s rear end. That’s not just to give the car a hulking presence, it’s to accommodate the gearbox slung out back, and has aerodynamic benefits, too: better stability at high speeds and part of the reason it can still do 340kph+ despite that surf board rear wing. I’s not just grown in length either, the wheelbase is stretched from 2700mm in the Aventador, to 2905mm here.

5. The interior is a button-fest

Climb in and the bucket seats – non-adjustable, fixed to the carbon tub – just swallow you up. On the driver’s side you move wheel and pedals, not seat, to fit your frame and control pretty much everything from the F1-inspired wheel in front of your face. There are buttons for changing the pre-load on the differential – to adjust oversteer/understeer behaviour on the fly – the 12-stage ABS, the 12-stage traction control and a thousand other things that we’d probably leave well alone. Even a button with a picture of a half a glass of milk next to it… us neither.

6. It’s easy to drive… according to Andrea Calderelli

I mean he would say that, being a highly talented and decorated racing driver, and also our chauffeur for the day, wouldn’t he? But Calderelli insists the SCV12 is designed to be friendly on track, friendly enough for the enthusiastic amateurs who might buy one to get a kick out of punting it around at silly speeds. But there’s enough bite on the ragged edge to keep hardened pros like him interested, he explains as he guns it off the line, wheels spinning in the first two gears, and wrestling it through the first right-hander and up past Goodwood house.

The SCV12 is rear-wheel drive only (as we’ve just found out), the tyres cold and the Duke of Richmond’s garden path still greasy from overnight rain, but the way the SCV12 devours the corners and straights without visiting the haybales is a good sign from where I’m sitting. Damn, we need a proper go in this thing, passenger rides are just a frustrating tease.

7. Downforce is significant

Hardly surprising, but still. Thanks to all the fins, splitters and that adjustable rear wing, Lamborghini claims 30 per cent more downforce than a Huracan GT3, or 1200kg at 250 kph in actual numbers. No driving on the ceiling here, but not bad.

8. Weight is low

Carbon ceramic brakes are included, but Calderelli recommends customers go with steel discs because performance is almost on a par, and they’re a fraction of the cost to replace. Even with steel brakes, the SCV12 weighs under 1,500kg with fluids and driver on board, which would be too much for a pure racing car, but acceptable here given the sheer size of it and the vast suite of electronic driver controls included.

9. It wants you to be a better driver

In truth you’re not buying a car here, you’re subscribing to an experience. Lamborghini runs around five events a year where owners get the chance to smash around world class tracks under the tutelage of, among others, five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro and Marco Mapelli. On top of that, Lamborghini can have the car and a crew delivered anywhere in the world with a little notice if you, say, find yourself holidaying near a decent track… at an extra cost of course. Want to take your SCV12 home and show it off to your mates? No problem, anything can be arranged, but really it’s a car that’s supposed to be run by and live at the factory in Sant’Agata.

10. It’s rare as rocking horse poop

Lamborghini is only going to make 40 of these, costing €2.2m (RM 11b) plus local taxes, so if you want in on the fun you’d better be quick. “Essenza SCV12 is the ultimate expression of the V12 naturally aspirated engine, the symbol of our brand since 1963,” explains Lambo’s technical boss Maurizio Reggiani. Clearly, this is him sending off the unassisted V12 in style, before embracing a plug-in hybrid and pure electric future.