The Devil's Spawn- Lamborghini Diablo SV [review]

Car Specifications
5707cc, Normal Aspiration
Cylinder Layout: 
V12, DOHC, 48-valves
Top Speed: 
325 km/h
6-Speed Manual
4.1 sec
500 bhp at 7100 rpm
580 Nm at 5200 rpm


Can Lamborghini, with its roots traced to a tractor manufacturer possibly hold a flame to the other supercar greats? Looking at its short history, it had already scored credibility with the then superb Muira S and it has since convinced the motoring press that it is a genuine supercar maker.

But why is it we usually associate supercars with Italy? It is really thanks to Ferrari, Maserati and of course Lamborghini. These Italian automakers have long concentrated their efforts on the evocative issues of a car rather than the practical ones. It’s about the power and the glory, the glamour and the glitz. Admittedly, who could be more emotional than the Italians to bring us such cars.

Lamborghini has chosen, wisely or otherwise, to call this model, Diablo which is Italian for devil and that is what you will say when you see this craft approaching you in your rear view mirrors. Well, the Countach before this was perhaps more intimidating but even despite its smoothened, streamlined styling, the Lamborghini Diablo is still a sight to behold. Head turning is what it does best but far from all it can do. It is obvious that Lamborghini intends to outdo Ferrari in all that is outrageous and powerful.

While Pininfarina is closely associated with Ferrari, Gandini is the primary stylist for Lamborghini. His style is extroverted, favouring bulges, scoops and cut-outs. The Diablo’s layout is dictated by the need to house the 500 Bhp, 5.7-litre V12 in the middle of the car. This V12 sports 4-valve heads and quad camshafts so piecing it together is quite a feat, what with 48 valves to fit. Its cab-forward stance is not purely by design but is a quirk of the huge 12-cylinder ending sitting forward of the rear axle. For such a large and wide car there is hardly and storage room for things like golf bags but apparently they are looking at a solution for future models. The Diablo may look aerodynamic but it what is more important is the need to generate negative or no lift at either axle as this car is designed to travel at near subsonic speeds. Top speed is then more a function of the engine’s power rather than the air cleaving ability of the Diablo’s bodywork.

The SV Diablo is a lightweight, stripped down, entry level version, which will still deprive the owner of close to a million dollars. Until Lamborghini rolls out their V-10 model, the SV will be their most affordable model. While we say, stripped down, it will still come with power assisted steering and central locking plus leather thrown in for good effect.

The power assisted steering has transformed the traditionally difficult to drive Lamborghini, which gains more than a simple quantum leap in user friendliness. Somehow the huge girth of the Diablo doesn’t seem so intimidating. Again do not think that it is as easy to handle as a Japanese car. No, you will still have to wrest control from this Italian temptress and perhaps it is this process of struggling with this relationship that draws one to fall head over heels with it.

Control the beast? It only lets you think that. For most part you are a guest, just along for the ride and what a ride it promises to be. For the technically inclined, to harness all 500 horses one either needs all wheel drive or huge tyres. The Diablo makes do with the latter, huge gumball tyres, 335/35 ZR 18 in the rear and 245/40 ZR 17 in the front, these especially the rears represent just about the biggest, widest tyres in current production. There is a VT version of the Diablo and that gets all wheel drive in addition to the huge tyres in an effort to better optimize traction in all conditions.

Like the Ferrari, there is a steel shift guide but is somehow easier to use in comparison. There is no need to actually look at the shifter as one crosses over the neutral plane into the next gear. Of course having just a 5-speed box helps because there is one plane less to contend with. As befitting a car of this nature, it really needs a manly shove to work the gears. This statement would aptly apply to the foot controls, requiring not just dexterity but effort as well. Thankfully this workout does not lead to drenched clothing as the air-conditioning actually works. Perhaps not as well as a Japanese unit but if you have driven a Countach before, you will appreciate this luxury. Just how “glam” cam one look if drenched in perspiration after just half an hour behind the wheel of this devil?

Just what would you get for nearly a million bucks? Well, this Diablo is based on a space frame construction, which is to say it has a tubular internal skeleton of high tensile steel and carbon fibre, which carries all of the loads. Then it is draped in a sexy skin tight body of Aluminum alloy and hand laid fibre composite resin material which is both lightweight and strong. As dictated by racing heritage, the suspension cannot be anything but double wishbones at each corner, holding up the car. The dampers employ electronics to control the damping rates to optimize handling without paying a hefty price in the ride department.

Then there is the fabulously outrageous styling which is worth nearly half the price and of course the remainder is accounted for by the mid-mounted, almost breath taking V12 that takes up most of the available space between the two axles. Well at around $2000 for every pony the engine delivers, it may seem reasonable until you summate that for all 500 horses, Italian or otherwise, it becomes a massive sum in anybody’s books. However for that princely price, the Diablo missile will reach a top speed of something in the region of 325 kph or more and that is fast, really scary fast. While it would take a rather long stretch of unrestricted autobahn to hit that kind of speed and a cast iron constitution, financing it in terms of fuel consumption also raises the need for a cast iron money supply. The Diablo drinks fuel in the city mode at a rate of 29 litres for every 100 km traveled and that is almost three times as high as a normal car would drink. If you drove as hard as the Diablo’s body suggest, it may well double that consumption. But on the open roads, where the Diablo is at its happiest, it will return a decent 13.3 litres for each 100 km traveled.

Despite all the use of high tech, lightweight materials, the Diablo weighs in at a fairly hefty 1576 kg and though that is no problem when it comes to take-off as reflected by its stunning 4.1 seconds for the century dash, stopping it safely is. Huge brakes are employed using Aluminum four pot calipers upon massive ventilated discs front and rear. To scrub off speed just dab the brakes, a decent shove will bring you several centimeters closer to the steering wheel, restrained by the seat belts which curiously strap you down from the central tunnel and rear bulkhead rather from the door. If you’ve paid this much it might as well be different here too.

Being firmly spung no longer means uncomfortable ride thanks to the well judged damping rates. Having electronics to switch between normal and firm helps optimize about town comfort yet still maintain the requisite control at high speed and in handling. Perhaps it is this that also helps make this a usable supercar.

Then there is the noise, the glorious noise the engine makes. It is different from Ferrari’s high pitched Formula One type scream. It bellows where the Ferrari screams, it’s the same song sung in a lower key. It still scintillates and intimidates, it attracts attention when it is out of sight and it plainly mesmerizes the audience once it is sighted. Where Ferrari attempts to be gentlemanly, the Lamborghini announces its omnipresence. The sound surrounds and envelops the cockpit and drowns out most conversation. Talking is possible if one eases up to the loud pedal which should save your licence as well as it if far to noticeable to miss unless every car on the roads is some sort of Lamborghini or Ferrari or Porsche. A fantasy? Then you should head for Monte Carlo come the time for the Formula One circus at the beginning of each race season. For now, the Diablo commands all the attention, good or bad. It is that one car that can stir your passion, take you away from all that you know as mundane and literally catapult you into intoxication. What is the difference between a fantasy and this Diablo? The Diablo you can actually own albeit at a price.
980,000 wo COE- AL

STEERING Assisted Rack & Pinion
Turn Circle 12.55m
BRAKES Discs Discs, ABS

GEAR BOX Manual 5-speed

ENGINE 5707cc, V12, 4-Cams, 48 valves, All Alloy, Mid-engine layout
Power 500 BHP @7100 RPM
Torque 580 Nm @ 5200 RPM
Red-line 7500 RPM
0-100 Kph 4.1 seconds
Driven wheels Rear

SUSPENSION Double Wishbones all round

Size f: 245/40 ZR 17 r: 335/35 ZR 18
Rims Alloys, 17 x 8.5, 18 x 13.

BODY 2-Door, Space frame, Exoticar
Length 4470mm
Width 2040mm
Height 1115mm
Wheelbase 2650mm
Kerb Weight 1576 Kg
Original Price in 2003 SGD $980,000

all content is intellectual property of motor-prime and cannot be reproduced in any form or manner without explicit permission from motor-prime. © 2004-2016 MotorPrime. All rights reserved.