Payne: Lamborghini supercar meets Lamborghini tractor
The exotic Lamborghini’s engine roared in my ears as I crested a hill on a remote farm road and shifted into fifth gear. The great beast lurched forward. My foot to the floor, the speedometer hit ... 31 miles per hour.
Didn’t know Lamborghini made tractors, did you?
Long before it crafted greyhounds like the Countach, Huracan and Aventador, the Italian marque began as a post-World War II tractor-maker. Today, Lamborghini’s sports car and tractor operations are under different ownership, but the bull logo still, improbably, graces the hoods of diesel-powered tractors and V-12 supercars in Europe.
But the only place in the U.S. you can find them both under the same roof is in Metamora, Michigan. Detroit media entrepreneur Kevin Adell has one of the most eclectic auto collections in the country with a stable that includes everything from a 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 to one of the made-for-TV "Batman" cars to a 2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn.
The 2017 Lamborghini Aventador SV supercar and 2017 Lambo Nitro 130 T4i farm tractor fit right in.
“I love Lamborghinis and I knew they were originally a tractor-maker and still manufacturing overseas,” says Adell, who ordered his Nitro through an Italian dealer. “I wrote them a letter in Italian and it took a year to get it over here.”
Among Adell's properties is Detroit 910 AM talk radio station where I broadcast my weekly “Car Radio” program. We car guys get along, and this summer I had the opportunity to test his raging-bull bookends.
They have almost nothing in common except purpose: a commitment to get you from one place to another as quickly as possible.
The Lamborghini Aventador is simply the most coveted sports car on the street today. No matter where I go, no matter who I meet, when someone learns that I review cars, the question is always the same.
Neighborhood kid: Have you driven a Lamborghini Aventador?
Media colleague: Have you driven a Lamborghini Aventador?
Fellow racer: Have you driven a Lamborghini Aventador?
With its wicked, F-22 Raptor-like angular styling, scissor doors and 740-horsepower V-12 furnace, the Aventador puts the “exotic” into exotic car.
While walking busy downtown Vancouver last year, I observed a black Aventador growl up to a stoplight. Everyone in the four-way intersection stopped to admire it. It’s a sci-fi movie celebrity.
Adell’s yellow and black-trimmed SV dials up the wow factor. The SV — short for Superveloce (translation: Super Fast) — is the track-focused, performance variant of the Aventador. Light-weighted by 110 pounds with 50 more horses then the base bull’s already insane 691, it bristles with exposed carbon fiber and a tall rear wing. Only 600 were built.
Driving it through Metro Detroit is like Jennifer Lawrence walking through Times Square. In her form-fitting Mystique Marvel suit.
Pedestrians gawk. Rubberneckers pull alongside for long glimpses. Muscle cars crowd its rear bumper to see if they can keep up. Then I push the throttle to the floor, the V-12’s afterburners light, and the SV disappears like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon into hyperspace.
No less satisfying is testing the Aventador’s grip around interstate cloverleafs. With its stiff-carbon tub and all-wheel drive claws, the car sticks like painted lines to asphalt. Its chassis stays flat as a board even as g-forces claw at my ribs under increasing throttle.
As you might expect from an Italian supermodel, the Aventador is defiantly eccentric. Climbing in between the high-sill carbon tub, scissor doors and squashed roof requires a giant shoehorn. Once inside you can’t see outside. The windshield is as shallow as a Corvette with zero rear visibility save mirrors and a (helpful) backup dash cam.
There are no cup holders, of course. With cornering loads over 1-G, who can sip coffee? The cockpit is optimized for track and driver. Like a Porsche 911, every button (even windows) is on the loooong console for easy access. I lift a hatch cover to access the red starter button — you know, like the president’s nuclear launch button.
The Lambo’s thrust is ballistic.
Using launch control in manual-only Corsa (“race” mode), the Adventador explodes forward. The V-12 mounted amidships — no turbos or superchargers here — howls to a manic 8,500-rpm redline. My right fingers twitch off lightning-quick transmission shifts, each one belting me in the back. But with all this violence channeled through all-wheel-drive (unlike rear-wheel drive 700-Horsepower Club members like the McLaren 720S and Corvette ZR1) the traction is eerily stable. It's like Cedar Point’s Top Thrill roller coaster on rails.
Sixty miles an hour blows by in 2.7 seconds. The quarter-mile takes just 10.7. In addition to Corsa and Sport (automatic), the stiff, raucous Lambo has a rarely used Strada (street) mode for daily driving. Aventador’s natural habitat is the track.
Nitro’s natural habitat is the farm.
It, too, is driver-focused. Make that farmer-focused. The manual five-speed tractor’s high cabin is even more complex than the Aventador with two gear-shifters, two throttles (foot and hand), three instruments screens and a crowded console.
With controls needed to maneuver the tractor and attached accessories like front-end loaders and grass cutters, the cockpit bristles with buttons and joysticks that makes the Aventador look elementary. And a John Deere seem common.
Nitro’s console is sculpted, the seats contoured, the cabin lined with auto-climate controlled, AC vents. No Aventador suede or leather her, but still a premium interior worthy of the bull logo.
It’s performance also screams Lamborghini.
While not the fastest tractor in the world (that honor goes to England’s JCB Fastrac which can reach 40 mph), the fuel-efficient, 480-torque, diesel Nitro 130 is plenty quick. The 28-inch-tall by 14-inch-wide Aventador rears are huge, but they’re dwarfed by the tractor’s 40-inch by 17.3-inch rears that anchor a sophisticated four-wheel drive air suspension.
In this mechanized jackrabbit, I was able to maintain a fast clip around Metamora’s ox-kart roads.
“This tractor is built for speed and longevity on big farms,” says Alvin Fergson, who farms across four southeast Michigan counties. “If I had one of these, I’d put front-loaders on it and really make time moving rocks, soil, you name it.”
At the Detroit auto show this year, I attended the unveiling of the wicked, high-riding, all-wheel drive, 650-horsepower Lamborghini Urus — the brand’s first SUV.
It might be the Metamora love-child of Aventador and Nitro.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at email@example.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.
2017 Lamborghini Aventador
Vehicle type: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-passenger supercar
Price: $493,095 base
Powerplant: 6.5-liter V-12
Power: 740 horsepower, 509 pound-feet torque
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Performance: 0-60 mph, 2.7 seconds (Car and Driver); top speed: 217 mph
Weight: 4,010 pounds
Fuel economy: EPA fuel economy: 11 city/18 highway/13 combined
Highs: Jaw-dropping looks; nuclear V-12
Lows: Can't see out of it; cop magnet
Overall: 4 stars
2017 Lamborghini Nitro
Vehicle type: Front-engine, four-wheel drive, two-passenger farm tractor
Price: $94,600 base ($146,000 Nitro 130 T-4i as tested)
Powerplant: 3.6-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel
Power: 127 horsepower, 480 pound-feet torque
Transmission: 5-speed manual or 3 stage Powershift
Performance: 0-31 mph (NA); top speed: 31 mph
Weight: 11,023 pounds
Fuel economy: EPA fuel economy (NA); 43-gallon tank
Highs: Comfortable cabin environment; very maneuverable
Lows: No scissor doors
Overall: 4 stars