Very few machines this side of a Lockheed Martin fighter jet can prepare you for how quickly the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster accelerates. Imagine what it feels like to sit in a trans-Atlantic airliner as it accelerates down the runway before take-off, how you instantly and uncontrollably get pushed back in your seat. Multiply that feeling by two. You’re still not quite there yet.
The effortless-yet-brutal acceleration delivered by the V12 engine is something that every car fan needs to experience at least once in his or her life. And it needs to be experienced with your right foot mashing the skinny pedal, not as a passenger, in Gran Turismo or on YouTube.
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Power for the Aventador Roadster comes from a hand-built 6.5-liter twelve-cylinder engine tuned to deliver 690 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 507 foot-pounds of torque at 5,500 rpm. The prodigious amount of grunt is generated by pure displacement; there are no turbos or superchargers hiding anywhere in the engine bay. While Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann openly told me that turbocharged engines haven’t been ruled out for the upcoming Urus SUV, he hinted that Lamborghinisti shouldn’t expect the Aventador to follow the industry’s downsizing trend and adopt a turbocharged engine anytime soon.
Officially, the 3,583-pound Aventador Roadster can reach 62 mph from a stop in 2.9 seconds and go on to a top speed of 217 mph. I didn’t verify that last statistic, but the acceleration is so brutally instantaneous that it feels much faster to 62. It goes fast, and it stays fast around corners thanks to a track-honed suspension system designed to virtually eliminate body roll and a light, rigid, carbon-fiber monocoque. You can take a bend at freeway speeds and not have to worry about ending up with the front end pointed in the wrong direction.
You’ll likely reach your own limits before you get anywhere close to the Aventador’s.
Then there’s the grip. Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed Independent Shift Rod (ISR) transmission that can be left in automatic mode or shifted manually with huge paddles, and through one of the grippiest all-wheel drive systems I’ve ever tested. The Aventador feels perfectly planted at all times, though, admittedly, the massive Pirelli rear tires also play a sizable role in putting power to the ground.
All told, the Aventador is a serious machine. Unless your resume includes stints at Mercedes-AMG Petronas or with Volkswagen’s WRC team, you’ll likely reach your own limits before you get anywhere close to the Roadster’s.
Extreme, and extremely livable
Like the Aventador coupe, the Roadster has multiple personalities and buttons on the center console let the driver which one bests suits a particular trip.
In Strada mode, the Roadster does its best to be docile. It’s really not. How do you expect a 690-horsepower convertible to be tame? And, more importantly, why the hell would you want it to be? But, let’s say it’s a little bit less extreme. The exhaust is noticeably quieter, the steering is lighter, the transmission shifts into the next gear sooner and it splits the twelve’s torque 30/70. Strada doesn’t neuter the Aventador by any means, and the effect it has on driving dynamics isn’t as perceptible as it is in the smaller Huracán. But it will help you be slightly more low-key as you drive through tiny villages in the Italian countryside – you won’t sound like Stirling Moss during the Mille Miglia.
Sport mode turns the dial up to 15. The Aventador becomes much louder, the steering is more direct, the throttle is markedly more responsive and the transmission holds each gear for longer. Additionally, it’s even more entertaining to toss the Aventador into a bend when Sport mode is engaged because power is split 10/90 between the front and the rear axles.
It’s even more entertaining to toss the Aventador into a bend when Sport mode is engaged.
Finally, Corsa mode unleashes the Roadster’s full potential by dialing back the traction control and splitting the V12’s power 20/80. The transmission can only be shifted manually when Corsa mode is selected. Gears arrive in as little as 50 milliseconds with a bone-jarring thunk that feels like sitting on a warship cannon barrel.
Corsa mode was designed largely for racing or doing hot laps. Sport is undeniably the best mode for all-around driving, I rarely used the other two during my time behind the wheel.
Even in Sport mode, the Roadster is relatively easy to drive in spite of its sheer outrageousness, and huge brakes all around keep the power in check. The steering is highly sensitive to input and direct, the Aventador goes exactly where you point it. However, one thing to keep in mind before you slip behind the wheel is that it’s a large car, probably a lot moreso than it looks in pictures. Width checks in at 79.9 inches, which is about on par with a Chevrolet Suburban.
In the cockpit
Getting in and out of the Avetandor takes a little bit of getting used to, but it’s not as awkward as it might seem. Once you’re behind the wheel, you’re faced with a fully digital instrument cluster designed so the driver can get vital information about the car and its surroundings in the blink of an eye. The tachometer is front and center, the speedometer is a small rectangle on the bottom right side of the tach, and a few more gauges on either side provide crucial stats such as the pressure and the temperature of the oil.
As you’d rightfully expect in a car that costs twice the price of an average starter home, fit and finish are nothing short of flawless, and the cockpit is built exclusively with top-notch materials. The bulk of the switchgear (including a switch that raises and lowers the suspension to help the Aventador clear driveways, and the buttons used to control the infotainment system) are located near the top of the slanted center console. The switches used to engage the transmission’s manual mode and to shift into reverse are located further down the console. Overall, the passenger compartment is a surprisingly ergonomic place from which to enjoy the scenery as it flies by and the sound of the naturally-aspirated V12 snarling away. Provided the roof panels are off, passengers see more of the outside world in the roadster than they do in the coupe.
Lamborghini operates its own carbon-fiber plant, so it’s not surprising that the Roadster’s two roof panels are crafted out of the weight-saving composite material. As a result, they tip the scale at just 13 pounds each. The panels are held on by latches accessed by tilting the seats forward, and they can be neatly stowed away in the trunk when the sun comes out. The whole process takes mere minutes, and it marks an unquantifiable improvement over the Murciélago.
The Lamborghini Aventador Roadster looks like nothing else on the road and it delivers the kind of raw, brash and unadultered driving experience that few other machines can offer. It’s a supercar – scratch that, a hypercar – like only the Italians know how to build. And, thanks to a vastly improved roof system, it’s also the best convertible Lamborghini has ever offered by a long shot.
- Blisteringly quick
- Race car-like handling
- Straight-forward roof system
- Comfortable, well-built cockpit
- Four bedroom-like price tag
- Not for the discreet or the low-key