At Rs. 5 crore the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster may not make sense. But its over-the-top styling and performance can hit your senses, writes Hormazd Sorabjee
Lamborghinis have always managed to enthral generation after generation with their styling, power, performance and sheer presence. And the Aventador has always been one of the finest examples of what Lamborghini stands for. And now, it comes in an all-new Roadster version. The carmaker has refrained from giving the all-new version of the Aventador an electric roof. Instead, it gets a two-piece roof that you fix and remove manually. Surprisingly, the removable roof is not that fiddly to handle. 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 this is certainly a better option than the roof folding rearwards and hiding the glorious view of the tantalisingly designed engine cover. This, and the glossy black buttresses that hide the rollover protection system, is the major difference between the new Roadster and the Aventador coupé.
The Aventador Roadster is stunning. The Audi-owned Italian sportscar maker’s new flagship is as outrageous as it gets. There’s not a curve in sight, only diamond and hexagon shapes, and lines sharp enough to split hairs. The large 20-inch rear wheels (the largest on a Lambo yet) look like flying saucers and complement the Aventador’s sci-fi looks.
Matching the Aventador’s breathtaking looks is its staggering performance, which is difficult to digest, even within the secure confines of the Homestead race track outside Miami. 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. Of course, this also means you will empty the 90-litre fuel tank in less than an hour.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the explosive way the Aventador accelerates. In fact, the Roadster has small glass screen in the rear that can be opened to enjoy the V12 symphony even when the roof is up.
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. 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 crawling through Miami’s traffic.
If there is a part of the Aventador that is a bit tame, it’s certain bits of the interior. While 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.
Now, how do you go about justifying a car that costs Rs. 5 crore and is less practical than a Nano? It may make sense if you live at one end of the Yamuna Expressway and have your own petrol pump (with 97 octane) at the other. But these cars are not about sense, are they? The thing is 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.