It's hard not to love the Lamborghini Aventador for its manic noise and edgy looks. But, what's it look without a roof? We hit the sunny streets of California to find out.
There are few cars on the road and even fewer cars that I’ve ever driven that give me butterflies in the stomach before I hop in for my first drive. The Lamborghini Aventador Roadster is one of those cars.
After arriving to the wrong Beverly Hills dealership and driving around for what seemed like hours in taxis to find the correct location, I finally arrived. It was a discreet building that housed a range of Lamborghini vehicles that were being serviced on behalf of owners.
‘My’ car, an Azzurro Thetys-coloured Aventador Roadster, was parked out front waiting for me. In pictures the Aventador Roadster looks big, scary and fast. In person, the jagged angles and crazy lines leave you gobsmacked. As does the price tag, which is $795,000 plus on-road costs.
Everything from the front splitter angles to the complex headlights and huge air intakes leave you not mistaking the Aventador Roadster for anything other than a Lamborghini. The Italian company has built its image on cars that both look and sound aggressive.
At certain engine speeds the centre stack exhaust outlets emit flames that shoot out on downshifts and under full throttle. Best seen at night, this phenomenon gives you an idea of just how mental this V12 Italian supercar really is.
In classic Lamborghini fashion, the scissor doors open upwards to reveal a stunning interior filled with an array of buttons, switches and dials. Likewise, the beige interior helps make this supercar feel even more special.
As you hop in, the seating position is very low and hugs the road so much that it feels like you are only inches from the ground. Surprisingly, the scissor doors make it easier to climb into and out of the Aventador. Their aperture, unlike something like the BMW i8, gives you the chance to clamber over the vehicle's bottom frame and get out gracefully.
Starting the car is an equally thrilling experience. You first have to lift a red cover (like in a fighter jet) and hold down a glowing starter button that fires the mammoth V12 engine to life. The laboured starter motor fills the sound void until the engine starts and idles with a deep mechanical thrum.
Tingles are sent down your spine as the Aventador Roadster sits there idling, with senses only heightened with a light prod of the throttle. It’s a sonorous and deep note that is very unique and exclusive to Lamborghini’s V12-powered cars. It's also loud enough to set off car alarms in car parks, which is an impressive feat.
The Aventador Roadster features a 6.5-litre V12 engine that produces an astonishing 515kW of power and 690Nm of torque. The engine and its seven-speed automatic gearbox is fast enough to propel the Aventador Roadster from 0-100km/h in just 3.0 seconds. That makes it one of the fastest convertibles in the world. While almost entirely irrelevant, combined fuel consumption is rated at 16L/100km.
I was lucky enough to drive the Aventador Roadster around our base in Santa Monica, California, before heading into the canyons for a blast and then on to picturesque Santa Barbara, which sits around one hour drive north of Santa Monica.
It gets attention absolutely everywhere it goes. I’m certain that even George Clooney walking down Santa Monica Boulevard would struggle to get as many looks as this vehicle. Unlike some Australians, the Americans know how to appreciate a supercar like the Aventador Roadster. Sitting on a street corner feels like time spent in the computer game Grand Theft Auto with random comments and whistles coming from passersby.
To properly test the Aventador Roadster’s cornering credentials, I headed toward some of the twisty canyon roads outside Malibu, just north of Santa Monica. These canyon roads offer reasonable speed limits, lots of corners and epic scenery.
The steering is very direct, while the brake pedal and throttle feel razor sharp and extremely accurate. Even in the car's standard driving mode — there are three driving modes available: Strada, Sport and Corsa — the engine offers plenty of response and a sonorous engine note.
If you wind the drive mode into Corsa — the fastest gearbox shift mode available — the Aventador adopts military focus and precision. This mode also sharpens throttle response and firms up the suspension, offering the driver the ultimate Aventador Roadster experience.
Arguably the most thrilling aspect of this car is driving with the roof off. It’s hard to compare the driving experience to anything else. The noise of the engine and exhaust bounce off walls and echo into the cabin. Even simple and casual gearshifts at low speed are filled with emotion and elegance.
As we push through canyon corners, the size of the car becomes a distant memory as it shrinks around you. Visibility is great, while placing the car in a corner is easier with the more time you spend behind the wheel.
After our canyon run, we hit the highway for the drive to Santa Barbara and spent some time appreciating the interior. Inside the cabin, the Aventador has gracefully evolved from its Murcielago predecessor. The fit and finish is excellent and now comes with the modern technology features you would expect of a car with this price tag.
Bluetooth audio streaming, an excellent stereo, satellite navigation and heated seats form the core of the interior’s offerings. The extra special part is the LCD display that shows the speedometer and tachometer.
Instead of a traditional analogue display, the Aventador uses an ultra-fast LCD display that can switch between different vital pieces of information on the fly. It’s pretty cool, looks great and serves its purpose.
Unlike some cars with tachometer LCD screens, the Aventador Roadster's high refresh rate means there is no lag as the rev gauge climbs through the gears. The display can also be customised to show different information depending on your driving mode and preference.
With the roof off, there is a fair amount of buffeting within the cabin. There is also a lot of tyre noise, which was partly due to the poor quality highway we were driving on. Aside from the wind noise, the ride was comfortable and not overly firm in the car's lowest Strada setting.
That brings me to the roof. Unlike some convertibles, the Aventador Roadster uses a two-piece lightweight manually operated roof. It can't be retracted on the fly and needs to be stowed within the storage area under the bonnet.
This presents a couple of issues. Firstly, if it rains, there is a frantic dash to retrieve and assemble the roof (which is apparently meant to be easier and quicker over time) and secondly, you are robbed of the already small amount of storage space originally available if you want to drive with the roof off.
Storage within the cabin is essentially non-existent and the entire storage cavity under the bonnet is gone when the roof is stored in there. The other thing I didn't really like was the stop/start function. The glorious V12 noise is overtaken by two loud engine fans when the car is stationary, kind of detracting from the experience.
In terms of practicality, the Aventador Roadster comes with a front suspension lifter (which is a must on some of the shoddy Los Angeles roads) and a reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors. While it's not quite an MX-5 in terms of ease of parking, it's surprisingly agile in tight spaces.
At $795,000, the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster is expensive. But, this isn’t the type of car you buy to be conservative, to save on fuel or to be discreet. The price tag directly reflects the attention and respect you will receive driving this car. It’s in a whole other league of supercars.
If you're ever in southern California and have the chance to go for a drive outside of Los Angeles, the Malibu canyons are a must, followed by a run down to idyllic Santa Barbara.
Click on the Photos tab to see more images of the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster by Paul Maric.
Watch our video review of the Lamborghini Aventador.