The Lamborghini Aventador is outlandishly wide, shockingly loud, and laughably impractical. It's hard to get in to and even harder to see out of.
But it looks like a fighter jet. It has doors that swing up. Up! It cuts a profile that can't be mistaken for another car. Or really anything else. That shockingly loud sound is also one of the sweetest on the road.
When it was released, the Aventador was more of a statement than anything else. It was perfect for flying down the highway or cruising around Miami, particularly in roadster form. But it wouldn't be your choice for a car to take on track or a back road. Lamborghini set out to change that with the updated Aventador S.
Here's what you learn after driving it.
There's just something about a naturally aspirated V12 that can't be replicated by any other car. Lamborghini's 6.5 liter V12 is a masterpiece, one of the great engines of all time. The Aventador S has 730 horsepower, a 39 horsepower gain compared to the first version of the car. It also has automatic start/stop, which is an odd thing in a V12 Lamborghini. It can be easily turned off, which is good because you'll want to turn it off. The jump from 690 to 730 isn't exactly noticeable, it's not like that made the Aventador seconds quicker to 60 or gave it 30 mph more of top end.
It's still astoundingly quick, of course. The Aventador S Roadster can hit 60 in about three seconds and has a top speed of 217 mph. That's fast. Who cares? Even if it was half as quick, it's all about that sound. The Aventador has this harried scream that rises from a bellow to a full on shriek at high RPMs. Not a glass-breaking, horror movie shriek, but one that you'd expect from a great opera singer with tremendous range.
And in a world where the naturally aspirated V12 is on the endangered species list, it's good that one of the few that survives sounds and behaves like this.
It Handles Now
The Aventador was never really great around corners. Far more suited to city streets or flat out blasts in a straight line, the Aventador's handling was never cited as a reason to get behind the wheel. There's a marked improvement for the Aventador S.
It's still wide and it doesn't really shrink around you on narrow roads, but a car that wanted to plow is now eager to turn in and playful. A run on a backroad isn't work anymore. I can't stress how much of a change this is.
The Aventador–and all big Lambos–have been thought of as blunt instruments, cars that need to be manhandled to get the best out of them. Even then, the "best" wasn't what many would think of as great. For many, they have been better to look at than to drive. Or to sit in traffic than to take on a wild road.
You can thank the addition of rear-wheel steering. The tech, which we went in-depth on during our first drive of the Aventador S coupe, virtually shortens or lengthens the car's wheelbase depending on the speed and handling situation you're in. What that means is that the Aventador is transformed. It feels agile, the front end is sharp and connected. Not only is it comfortable at a fast pace on your favorite road, it's fun. You don't feel like you need to worry or like you should have your cellphone ready to call State Farm after every corner.
A vast improvement.
The Gearbox Is the Same
In the past, Lamborghini has said that a dual-clutch gearbox isn't emotional enough for a supercar, that's why it uses a single-clutch unit for the Aventador. If the emotion Lambo is trying to generate is anger, job done.
When you're just kind of driving around at half or quarter throttle, it's fine. When you're really accelerating, it's not so fine. It's neck-snappingly violent, like the V12 is punching you in the back of the head. It's particularly accentuated in Corsa, which exaggerates every upshift to the point you feel like something might be wrong with the car.
It is certainly different than how cars with a dual-clutch deliver power, but it's not necessarily better.
You Want the Roadster
The roadster and the coupe are essentially the same car, just with two key differences.
The roadster's roof, as you may have guessed, is removable. That means any issues you have with headroom are as easy as taking off two carbon panels. If you do remove the roof, you better hope that you don't have any luggage; the panels take over the entire trunk. Your best solution is to have your butler or assistant follow you in another car with your luggage... or with the roof panels. Your choice.
If you never want to put the roof down, the roadster is still the better choice. Why, you ask? With the top on, you can lower the rear window so you can hear the V12 even clearer. It doesn't let the outside in, so you can do this in the rain, wind, snow, or whatever other weather you experience near your house.
The roadster may cut the same profile as the coupe, but the ability to put that little window down is what seals it as the variant to get.
This is not a cheap car, even by Lamborghini standards. While the Aventador S coupe starts at $425,000, the entry price to the roadster is $460,000.
Is that extra $35,000 worth it? At this level, nobody is asking that. If you want a little window that goes down, get the roadster. If you don't, get the coupe. Either one will be a statement. Either will make the day of literally anybody who sees it on the road. Kid will cheer for you, adults will take photos, everyone will ask you to rev it and make noise. Whether you want to or not, the Aventador will bring joy to the people around it, and that has to make you smile. But now it's fun to drive on a backroad, if you want to get away from everyone and just bring yourself joy.
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