Robbie Dickson Vancouver, Lamborghini Aventador Roadster Test Drive
I think it’s common knowledge around town that I have an Aventador coupe. Whilst I may think I’m the dogs bollocks, it now turns out that that’s old news because Lamborghini took a can opener to the car and flipped the lid off, AKA the Roadster, that incidentally has already sold out, and comes with a 12-18 month waiting list. So, with a $485,000 price tag, is the Roadster worth the extra $40,000 over the coupe? I wanted to find out.
First off, when I test drive a car, I look at a variety of sensory perceptions that need to be aroused and satisfied in order to completely fall in love with a car. These are pretty much the same senses I’d use when going on a first date, and some of these senses are more important than others, depending on what I’m looking for in a car, or a woman for that matter, am I looking for marriage material or just a weekend Binge. Style, performance, sound, comfort and exclusivity are the main factors for me when rating a car overall. Now with a Lamborghini, we know the style will never disappoint. Lamborghini’s are known for being pantomimes on wheels, where as a Ferrari may sometimes like to stay under the radar screen and be less flashy (that’s not always a bad thing). So in this respect, the Lamborghini gets top marks and now without the roof, it certainly does feel like your girlfriend just got implants. But it’s not all good news…
No Lamborghini is for the faint of heart. By lifting the lid off its Coupe, the Italian supercar big gun may have created the most outrageously theatrical car of the lot, and for Yobbo’s like me, it’s exactly the type of thrill that I look for. The lid in question is extremely cool. Okay, so it’s not an electrically operated folding hard-top like the 458 Spider or McLaren 12C Spider; it is in fact two panels, but those panels are little 6 kg slabs of carbon fiber and forged composite that look and feel cool. As Lamborghini’s designer Felipo Perini demonstrated, the key was to preserve the Aventador coupe’s incredible profile. In fact, the panels installed are stashed away under the hood. I think the Roadster looks even better than the coupe, a rare accolade for any open top car, never mind one as deliriously complex in form as this. Perini was under huge amounts of pressure after the colossal screw up they made out of the Murciélago which took about 30 minutes to install, a huge issue for us Vancouverites where it always seems to rain just after washing your car.
So what about the downside? Well it’s not one that’s worth getting too upset about. The 0-62 mph time is now 3.0 seconds compared to the coupe’s 2.9 seconds. The top speed is the same at 217 mph, and though normal conversation is possible at up to 80 mph, you probably shouldn’t be talking anyways but be listening to the 12 cylinder monster just 10 inches behind your head, which thankfully you can now hear a lot more of.
The Aventador’s 6.5 liter, 690 bhp V12 remains an absolute marvel, a hymn to furious, single minded, normally aspirated internal combustion in a world that is hell-bent on adding turbos and, worse still, electricity to the equation. It still feels a little heavy (200 kg more than the Ferrari 458 Spyder) and occasionally even a bit clumsy in Corsa mode (track-mode), and with the stability control still on the electronics can’t decide to go for a pre-emptive strike or to shut things down mid-corner. Either way, it’s frustrating. Kill the stability control, and the Aventador becomes a total animal, and you have a clearer idea of what the chassis is really like. The steering is great, but the car’s throttle response is jumpy at the best of times and seriously trigger-happy in full attack mode which is how I prefer my ride, but that’s not for everyone. It’s still super stiff, thanks to its carbon tub, though obviously not as rigid as the coupe.
But the biggest glitch, and it is a big one, is the gearbox. Technical director Maurizio Reggiani admitted that the software had been recalibrated on the Roadster (and coupe), to soften and smoothen the action. Fast up-shifts are still akin to being kicked in the back of the head (I love this sensation). You see, I want to feel like Evel Knievel when driving a Lamborghini. For me, that’s the whole point of what big Lambo’s are all about: the fear of the V12 trying to kill me is what keeps me alive, but then again I am a self proclaimed thrill hoar so the new thuggish open top Lambo is made just for yobbo’s like me. So what about that glitch? The transmission still remains deeply flawed. In full auto mode around town, it’s arguably the worse, a lurching throwback to the earliest days of semi-autos, when dinosaurs still roamed the land. Dual-shift gearboxes might be heavy and difficult to package, but once you’ve tried a good one there’s no going back.
However, you forgive all this nonsense the moment you get to open it up. It’s a mind blowing cool machine, a modern masterpiece of design, and beautifully well made too. The Roadster costs $40,000 more than the coupe but worth every penny, and that’s why I had to order one.
The Aventador’s power, pace and appearance really do nudge it into the mega money realm currently occupied by the Veyron, and the upcoming Ferrari Enzo replacement, Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P12 hypercars, while the 12C and 458 Spider are smaller and less expensive and exclusive. Yes, they’re also fun to drive, but the Aventador Roadster gets extra marks for smashing your senses in every possible way.