+ Glorious V12 soundtrack
+ More refined than the Aventador
+ Those radical looks
- It's over two metres wide
- Still juddery at low speeds
- Too similar to the Aventador SVJ
Lamborghini is no stranger to limited-run supercars. Over the past 15 years, it’s released countless examples based on the Mercielago, Aventador and Huracan supercars, each sporting wild designs and symphonic engines.
But its latest offering, the Sian FKP 37, is a bit different. Not only is it the most powerful production car to come from Sant'Agata Bolognese, it’s also the Italian marque’s first hybrid. And in true Lamborghini fashion, the hybrid system is unlike any other you’ll find today.
Lamborghini is only making 63 examples of the Sian FKP 37, each costing around £2m. We say “around”, given that each model is tailor made to the customer’s desire and, therefore, many will sell for significantly more.
With customer deliveries now underway, Lamborghini invited YesAuto to get behind the wheel to see whether the firm’s V12 has been amplified by electricity, or if it’s simply a glammed up version of the ageing Aventador.
We’ll be in car number 00 of 63, so better be on our best behaviour…
It’s certainly a technical name but there’s a meaning behind it. Firstly, Sian roughly translates as “lightning” in Bolognese, which seems fitting given its electrified roots. FKP, meanwhile, are the initials of former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Karl Piech, who passed away in 2019, while 37 relate to the last two initials of Piech’s birth year.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll drop the “FKP 37” from the name for the rest of the review.
The Sian is based on the hardcore Aventador SVJ, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at it as the hypercar gets a striking new design. It’s one of the best-looking Lamborghinis in years, with the firm’s now signature Y-shaped LED headlights giving the front end an aggressive look.
Then there’s the back end, which does away with the firm’s Y-shaped LED lights in favour of two sets of three hexagonal tail lights that serve as a nod to the Lamborghini Countach. There are also two small winglets at the back of the bodywork, referencing endurance racers from the 1960s and 70s. And, if you want to really show off, there’s a retractable wing that elevates at speed or with the press of button inside the cockpit.
Lamborghini is adamant that the Sian’s design doesn’t preview the next Aventador and for now we’ll have to take that at face value. But the powertrain might give us a few clues about the firm’s next series V12.
The Sian’s cabin is almost completely different to the Aventador, with the only carryover being the steering wheel. It does, however, share a lot in common with the Centenario: Lamborghini’s last limited-run hypercar built to celebrate Ferruccio Lamborghini in 2016.
The big changes over the Aventador can be found in the centre console. Most of the switchgear has been replaced by a large, portrait touchscreen infotainment system that looks to have come from the Centenario. It’s incredibly sharp, responsive and comes with with beautiful rose gold graphics inspired by the Sian. There are also certain menus bespoke to the Sian, including a screen that shows you how much power the hybrid system is using.
As you’d expect with a car costing north of £2m, the Sian’s cabin is trimmed with leather from Poltrona Frau, an Italian furniture firm older than Ferruccio Lamborghini himself, with some elements being 3D printed. Any surface not covered by leather is exposed carbon fibre, finished in high gloss. There’s also a chunky carbon fibre door sill adorned with the Sian name, which does a superb job of showcasing just how wide the hypercar is. You’ll need to stretch to get in.
What makes the Sian such a big deal is that it’s Lamborghini’s first hybrid. It’s powered by the same 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine as the Aventador SVJ and produces 774bhp. That’s connected to a 34bhp electric motor that bumps the total power output up to 808bhp, which is spread across both the front and rear axle. Find a straight stretch of road and you’ll go from 0-62mph in less than 2.8 seconds before hitting a top speed of over 220mph.
Insane, right? Well, it gets even more mad. The Sian stores electricity in an ultra-compact supercapacitor, which the company claims can pack ten times more energy than traditional lithium-ion batteries. What’s more, supercapacitors change be charged instantly. Couple that with a regenerative braking and you’ll have a fully-charge supercapacitor every time you press the right pedal.
As the Sian’s underpinnings are similar to those of the Aventador SVJ, you get the same single-clutch seven-speed automated manual gearbox as the series V12. It was an outdated system when the Aventador arrived back in 2011, with each gear change feeling as though someone had pushed you from behind. However, the Sian’s electric motor is connected to the gearbox, filling in the torque gap between gear shifts for a smoother drive.
Naturally, Lamborghini didn’t want a bunch of journalists, many of whom all believe they would be Formula 1 drivers had they been born into a wealthy family (myself included), messing around with its multi-million-pound hypercar on public roads, so we’d be putting the Sian to the test on Millbrook Proving Ground’s Alpine route. It’s a tight, undulating stretch of tarmac and concrete akin to a stretch of British b-road. It was raining heavily, too (getting my racing driver excuses out of the way early).
Pulling out of the garage and onto the start of our route, it became apparent that the Sian is a big boy. With a width of 2,100mm, the Sian is 100mm wider than a 2021-spec Formula 1 car and made staying in lane somewhat challenging. Surprisingly, forward visibility isn’t nearly as bad as expected and isn’t far off what you get on the Audi R8.
The Sian does, however, have hilariously massive blind spots, meaning we’d need to rely on our Huracan Evo pace car to radio that the coast is clear at junctions. Sure it’ll be a pain on a public road, but if you can afford a £2m hypercar you can probably shell out for a lead car on your Sunday drive.
But none of that matters once you press the accelerator. Nothing comes close to the sound of a naturally-aspirated Lamborghini V12 at full throttle. It’s an instant reminder of why the Aventador is so popular, providing a stunning array of sounds throughout the rev range without ever feeling as though it’ll spit you off the road – even in torrential rain.
That’s even more impressive given that the Sian is a hybrid. The supercapacitor feeds electricity into an electric motor, which provides a extra torque at speeds of up to 80mph. Not only is the delivery linear, but it also solves one of the Aventador’s biggest problems: the gearchange. As the motor is connected to the gearbox, it fills in the torque between gear changes for smoother shifts and power delivery. It’s a huge improvement at lower speeds, though there’s a hint of judder in first gear.
One of the benefits of Lamborghini’s single-clutch e-gear system, though, is that it behaves like a manual on downshifts. Whereas a dual-clutch ‘box feels a tad artificial every time it blips the throttle when going down through the gears, the Sian drops and reengages the clutch the almighty roar from the engine – as if it were gulping fuel.
Driving the Sian is a bit like manoeuvring an old GT1 racing car. Sure the cabin feels suitably luxurious, but the sheer amount of carbon fibre used for the car’s underpinnings means every small stone chip thrown up by the tyres clatters through the wheel well, as if you were driving from the paddock of a grass roots racing course.
It does mean you’ll need to shout at whoever’s in the cabin with you at speeds of over 50mph. But with a screaming V12 behind your head, who cares?
Thankfully, the steering is surprising communicative. Though it doesn’t provide as much texture feedback as the racks you’ll find on modern McLarens, the Sian’s wheel is weighty enough to accurately give you a sense of the sheer size of the thing, yet there’s a lightness to it that makes it easy to manoeuvre at low speeds. That’s also thanks to the rear-wheel steering system, which has been carried over from the Aventador SVJ and does a superb job at shrinking the Sian’s footprint.
Unlike car’s strapped with turbochargers or even powerful hybrid powertrains, the Sian doesn’t feel like it’ll send you to the moon every time you look at the accelerator. It’s wonderfully linear, meaning you can work your way through the rev range without worrying about speed limits. That’s right, the Sian really can be enjoyed at low speeds.
There’s a real sense of capability with the Sian, one that’s begging to be explored by the wealthy owner who’s brave enough to take it on a race track and give it a good spanking. While our test route was far too tight and damp to push the car to its limits, the Sian is brimming with feel and is surprisingly accessibly given how powerful it is. No, it isn’t nearly as precise as most modern supercars, but there’s something wonderfully old school about the Sian. It’s the closest thing you’ll find to an organic supercar on the market today, even with a supercapacitor strapped to the gearbox.
Speaking of the supercapacitor, it makes you wonder whether the Sian is previewing technology that’ll appear on the Aventador successor, which is due in the next year or two. Lamborghini denies this, say that it won’t follow in the footsteps of the Reventon and Sesto Elemento, which previewed the Aventador and Huracan respectively.
But the Italian marque seems to be onto a winner with the Sian. Not only does it feel like a proper, old-school V12 brute; the supercapacitor acts as a clever way of meeting strict emission laws without compromising on weight or, more importantly, that glorious sound. So the Sian may not preview the Aventador replacement’s design, but we wouldn’t be surprised the firm’s next series V12 supercar comes bundled in with a supercapacitor.
Only Lamborghini could make hybrid tech sound cool. Bring on the electric future.