By Shari Prymak
Lamborghinis are not so much cars as they are wild, over-top-top, manifestations of childhood fantasies. Although the Volkswagen/Audi influence has augmented that raw Italian spirit with a good dose of refinement and technological sophistication, the brand has plenty of dream-fulfilling lunacy to offer if you know where to look. No model in the range is arguably a better example of this than the range-topping Aventador S Roadster.
Everyone seems to lose their minds when the Aventador parks and those trademark Lamborghini scissor doors rise into the air in all their dramatic glory. The design is so incredibly captivating and outrageous that it just commands attention wherever it goes. My test car came in a stunning matte silver finish called Grigio Adamas. Subdued, yet striking, with just the right amount of sheen to highlight all those aggressive angles and creases in the body. The Roadster ups the excitement even further with a pair of removable roof panels that store neatly under the hood. Part fighter jet part spaceship, the look can be a bit overwrought and even comical to some, but that’s just the Lamborghini way.
The interior maintains that fighter jet cockpit feel with firm, supportive, low-mounted seats, an aggressively-raked windshield, and a tall centre console with a push-button starter concealed by a red flip cover. The controls are a bit of a confusing mishmash of buttons and a dated-looking infotainment system, but all the important bits like the finely-stitched leather and metal paddle shifters look and feel very nice indeed. The digital instrument gauge with its centre-mounted tachometer has a cool race car look to it as well. Quite appropriately for a supercar, cup holders and any kind of storage space are nonexistent.
Having driven plenty of high-end performance cars like the Porsche 911 and Acura NSX, I expected the Aventador S to be a solid notch above those models. The actual difference is so vast that the Lamborghini is just in a completely different league, at least on the street. The dry-sump 6.5L V12 engine, for one thing, emits a spectacular sound that’s so loud and intoxicating that it will give your ear drums both a beating and a blissful ride through paradise. The symphony of noise is amplified further with the removal of the roof panels, a move I highly recommend at all times. This is easily one of the best sounding engines available today, and it’s right there howling away just inches behind your head for you and the rest of the world to enjoy.
With 740 horsepower and 509 lb-ft of torque on tap, the acceleration is nothing short of violent. 0-100km/h can be accomplished in as little as 3 seconds, and it feels every bit that fast as the engine hits its 8500 rpm climax banging through each gear. With enough runway, it will hit a claimed top speed of 350km/h. The 7-speed single-clutch gearbox lacks the smooth, seamless gear changes of the latest twin-clutch units, but that lack of refinement just adds character to the driving experience. Though a bit jerky and abrupt when driven at low speeds in Strada mode, things smooth out when driven aggressively in Corsa mode, where flicking the satisfying paddle shifters is mandatory. Still, there’s no hiding the fact that changing gears at full send feels like being punched in the back of the head. It’s crude, yet somehow addictive and thoroughly satisfying.
Despite all of its ferocious power, the Aventador S is hardly an untamed beast eager to break loose at any moment. The all-wheel drive system combined with massively sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires (355 sections and 13 inches wide at the rear) keep this beast planted and under control at all times. The cornering feels remarkably sharp and agile as well, which is somewhat surprising for a vehicle of this size and weight. The Aventador S may use carbon fibre construction, but it’s no Miata. That immense size, especially the ridiculous width, along with the limited visibility, generate a constant battle with city traffic and parking spaces. In any case, unless you enjoy drawing in huge crowds and the exhausting attention it brings, parking is probably best avoided.
Quite appropriately, all of this wildness comes matched to an equally wild price tag. The Aventador S Roadster has a starting price of $506,751. With a laundry list of options that includes an exterior carbon and style package ($23,500), transparent engine bonnet ($8,650), power-adjustable and heated seats ($4,800), a number of custom touches through Lamborghini’s Ad Personam program ($9,500), and, of course, that lovely matte paint finish ($16,000), the grand total for my tester came to $592,201. Crazy? Perhaps, but trying to rationalize it is pointless as those who can afford it likely couldn’t care less.
Lamborghini is on a path of expansion that now includes models like the track-focused Huracan Performante and family-friendly Urus SUV. The heart of the raging bull, however, will always be outrageous, wall poster-worthy, exotic pieces of artwork like the Aventador S. It delivers an awe-inspiring driving experience that’s an equal match to both the looks and the reputation. It’s a modern day rolling monument to what Lamborghini has always stood for, and one that lives up to the childhood fantasy in every way.