Lamborghini's Aventador Roadster reviewed

Autocar India
First Published: 15:30 IST(28/5/2014)
Last Updated: 17:27 IST(30/5/2014)
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The Lamborghini Aventador is a car that hardly needs an introduction. Introduced in 2011, it has been one of the most eye-catching offerings in the sportscar segment. It’s a moving art form that can make even an 80-year-old feel like an excited toddler when it rips past.
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The Roadster version looks even more special, with its slender-spoked alloy wheels and complex glass engine cover. In my eyes, it’s easily the best-looking car you can buy today; a show-stopper in white. Yes, lots of sportscars can turn a few heads. But the Roadster, with its dramatic, jet fighter design, can summon a fanatical mob seemingly out of thin air. Hence, spending a day in Bangalore with the car would have been as easy as Katrina Kaif spending a day shopping on MG Road.

But yet here I am, and first things first: off comes the roof; I’m not about to drive one of the most exotic convertibles on the planet with a roof over my head. But unlike most convertibles, this isn’t some push-button, fold-on-the-fly electric roof. No, the carmaker, in typical Italian fashion, prefers style over function, and a folding roof would have compromised the car’s beautiful silhouette and that gorgeous engine cover.

So instead, you get a pair of forged composite roof panels that can be removed. It’s a bit of a tedious task – fold the seatbacks forward, pull the latches to release the panels, lift them out, and slot them into the boot. But at least they’re extremely light.

I lower myself into the cockpit, close the scissor door and am greeted by a familiar dashboard – it’s the same as the coupé and it’s still every bit as amazing.

It wouldn’t be a Lambo without a low-slung driving position, a steeply raked windscreen and acres of leather and carbonfibre inside.

This version ticks all of these boxes, and with some flair, but then this Italian manufacturer is owned by Audi, so along with that comes Germanic quality and decent ergonomics.

You’ll also spot a few parts borrowed from various Audi models, but the way Lamborghini has managed to blend these and the media interface in without hampering the visual drama makes this cabin – or rather cockpit – very special.

The German connection also means the air-con works well and you get a reversing camera; handy, because you can’t see very much past that exquisite engine cover behind you that hosts the same earth-moving 691bhp, 6.5-litre V12 as the coupé.

Given the increasing shift towards fuel-efficient, direct-injection, turbo engines, there’s something charmingly stubborn about an old-school, naturally aspirated V12 that loves to rev till your ears hurt.

I prod the start button and the engine comes to life with a loud growl. On this open stretch of tarmac, the grin won’t leave my face, and the way this Lambo accelerates is a new experience altogether.

Yes, I’ve driven the coupé, and it’s supposed to be slightly quicker since it’s 50kg lighter. But hearing that fantastic V12 clearly with the roof off just intensifies the experience; it feels like it’s packing another 100bhp. If you’d rather keep the roof up, you can still open the rear glass to hear that twelve-cylinder symphony.

It spears towards the horizon with a pace and ferocity that few other cars on the planet can compete with. In Sport mode, the acceleration is terrific, and if that isn’t enough, in full-power Corsa mode, the car transforms completely. It kicks you hard in the back every time you upshift near its 8,500rpm redline, so much so that you run the very real risk of neck injury from whiplash.

The complex four-wheel-drive system and the aggressive launch control allow this 1,625kg car to go from nought to 100kph in 3.0sec, hurtling you onward to a top speed of 349kph – without a roof!

Time to show this low, pointy nose the heart of Bangalore city – but perhaps I should have waited till the streets emptied out.

As soon as I encounter the slightest congestion, it’s clear that this Lambo is happy only when it’s going fast. The gearbox, which is lightning-quick at speed, feels jerky when you’re going slow, and the single clutch is not at all smooth when it bites. In any setting, the car is cumbersome to park, because it is next to impossible to creep. With some practice, I’m able to drive it smoothly, but it requires concentration and is, frankly, exhausting.

Then there’s the ride – skateboard-stiff and outright uncomfortable on the lumpy, potholed roads of Bangalore. The car also tends to overheat, and I’m fast regretting bringing it to the city.

So here’s a piece of advice to those who might actually buy this outrageous machine: spend a few lakhs more and get a flatbed truck to transport this rare piece of cattle to your favourite open road.

Owning such an outrageous car also means you draw a lot of attention, and at a traffic light, you end up getting mobbed. It’s fun to begin with, but when you start causing traffic jams and bikers come perilously close to the car, camera phones in hand, the excitement turns to horror pretty quickly. You can’t escape the spotlight, especially since that would mean getting out and re-assembling the roof, panel by panel.

At Rs. 5.46 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi), this Lambo doesn’t make any sense at all, but for a few passionate (and very rich) customers, that’s exactly what makes it so special.
 

Ameya Dandekar


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