Lamborghini Aventador roadster review, test drive

Autocar India
First Published: 10:46 IST(2/3/2013)
Last Updated: 15:11 IST(6/3/2013)
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Whichever angle you look at it from, there’s no denying that the Aventador has been designed to deliver shock and awe. One look at the mighty Aventador in the flesh tells you that it is indeed right up there with Lamborghini’s most outrageous creations. There is absolutely no compromise on the sheer drama it conveys, which is why Lamborghini has refrained from giving the all-new Roadster version of the Aventador an electric roof. 
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In an attempt to not foil the proportions and mess up the silhouette, the designers have given it a two-piece roof that you fix and remove manually. Surprisingly though, the removable roof is not that fiddly to use. It’s cleverly designed to split into two carbon panels that, individually, are quite light and can be stowed neatly in the small boot under the nose. And for sheer visual appeal, that’s a darn sight better than if the roof was to fold rearwards and hide the glorious view of the tantalisingly designed engine cover. This, and the glossy black buttresses that hide the rollover protection system, are the major differences between the Roadster and the Aventador coupé. 
 
 
There’s not a curve in sight, only diamond and hexagon shapes, and the large 20-inch rear wheels (the largest on a Lambo yet) complement the Aventador’s sci-fi looks. 
 
Matching the knife-edge looks is the Aventador’s staggering performance. The Roadster uses the coupé’s 6.5-litre, quad-cam V12, which churns out a colossal 690bhp and 70kgm of torque. It weighs 1625kg, which is an inconsequential 50kg more than the coupé, and hence the power-to-weight ratio works out to a staggering 425bhp per tonne – enough to blitz past 100kph from a standstill in three seconds flat and rocket to a top speed of 350kph – with the roof off. 

Nothing can quite prepare you for the explosive way the Aventador accelerates. There’s a ferocious tug at any point in the rev band, which is unrelenting all the way up to the 8,500rpm redline. It’s only on a track that you can really wring this brilliant V12 hard enough to experience its shattering performance and dramatic sound. In fact, the Roadster has a small glass screen in the rear that can be opened to enjoy the V12 symphony even when the roof is up. 

Grip levels are phenomenal and it takes you a while to build up enough confidence to even get the tyres to chirp under hard cornering. A sophisticated four-wheel-drive system and fast-acting stability control give you a sense of security, but the truth is that the Aventador is an intimidating car to drive on the limit. It doesn’t handle as precisely or predictably as smaller exotics like the Ferrari 458 or McLaren MP4-12C. The steering is quick, no doubt, and the ceramic brakes are staggeringly effective, but the Aventador has an edgy feel to it, accentuated by the noticeable weight transfer under hard acceleration, braking and cornering. As a result, the Aventador shifts around a lot, even on a smooth track, and you are constantly making corrections. The cumbersome handling and bone-jarringly hard ride don’t give it the finesse or finely honed feel of a Ferrari.
 
 
The Aventador’s seven-speed, single-clutch automated manual gearbox takes no prisoners either, and is nowhere near as smooth as the twin-clutch systems in some of its competitors. Like with the coupé, the Strada, Sport and Corsa settings alter throttle maps, the torque split between the front and rear wheels, and the speed of the shifts. If gearshifts could cause you bodily harm, it would happen in the Aventador’s full-attack Corsa mode. Each tug of the paddles is like being struck by a lightning bolt and makes you feel like an F1 driver. In Strada mode, optimised for normal driving, Lamborghini claims the shifts are much smoother, but the transmission still felt quite jerky while crawling through traffic. 

If there is a part of the Aventador that is a bit tame, it’s certain bits of the interior. Whilst the digital instrumentation and red, ‘missile launcher’-style flip-up cover have all the elements of a fighter jet’s cockpit, a lot of the switchgear and the familiar MMI interface feel like they’ve been plucked out of an Audi. And these bits of parts sharing really stand out in a car that is otherwise beyond the extreme scale. 

 

The Aventador Roadster’s Rs. 5 crore price tag is easy to justify. It’s not about making sense or being practical, it’s that no other car, not even a Ferrari, can assault your senses the way the Aventador’s mix of over-the-top styling and performance does. A testament to this is the fact that the Roadster is sold out till 2014.


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