The Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 may not be short of eye-catching details – a V12 engine with 830 horsepower is worthy of attention – but inside it’s the race car inspired steering wheel that grabs you. Leagues away from the touchscreen-heavy dashboards of most modern cars, supercars included, the Essenza SCV12 instead focuses on giving you as little reason as possible to move your hands away from the most important control.
Dashboard design has evolved over the years, and as vehicles get more complex their interfaces have had to try to keep up. We’ve seen a general shift away from a physical control for every feature to a digital interface that keeps the number of buttons and switches down.
That’s great when you’re doing the school run in your Urus, but not so practical when you’re on the track putting the Essenza SCV12’s naturally-aspirated V12 to the test. Then, not only is there no time to spend digging through settings submenus for traction control settings, even just reaching for a wiper stalk could be too far. That’s why this newest Lamborghini does away with all that completely.
Instead there’s a multifunction steering wheel with an integrated display, which the automaker says was inspired by what you’d expect to find inside an F1 single-seater race car. Much smaller than a traditional wheel, and rectangular rather than circular, it’s designed so that the driver’s hands can remain in the perfect grip at all times. When they do need to adjust something, there are buttons and dials for that right on the wheel itself.
The central display shows the current gear, engine speed, lap pace, and tire pressure and temperature. The left hand gets a wheel at the top to adjust the differential, and then buttons for the pit radio, engaging neutral or reverse gear, and triggering the built-in drink system. Another wheel adjusts the ABS.
On the right, meanwhile, there’s a wheel to adjust the power steering settings, plus buttons to engage the pit limiter, to flash the lights, the hazards, and the full course yellow. There’s also a traction control wheel. Running underneath the display are knobs for clutch adjustment, the windshield wipers, engine map modes, and cycling through the info pages. A spare button can be remapped for something else.
It all looks, at first glance anyway, pretty complicated. However over time, so the idea goes, the driver builds up muscle memory and their fingers know exactly where to go in order to get the setting or control they want. That’s not something you typically can build, at least to the level that you’d want while you’re hitting the track in earnest, with a touchscreen-based system.
The center console isn’t devoid of features, mind. There are buttons for things like engine start, locking the pedals, the indicators, and a kill switch for emergencies, plus dials for the A/C, throttle, and other settings. Again, there’s a focus on utility rather than aesthetics: they’re all sized to be easily operated when you’re wearing gloves.
Few drivers will actually get to try that out themselves, of course. Lamborghini is only making forty Essenza SVC12 cars, each one coming with a dedicated garage spot in a custom-built hanger at Sant’Agata Bolognese. They’ll also have the benefit of a 000 of engineers and technicians, who will follow the cars around to different exclusive tracks around the world. That, sadly, will be the only way to actually put the Essenza SVC12 to the test: unlike most cars Lamborghini builds, this V12 beast isn’t road-legal.