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The Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster achieves some feat – managing to upstage the coupe version that blasted onto the scene last year with outrageous styling and performance.
It also surpasses the Aventador hardtop for expense. By price, the $795,000 Roadster carries a $33,500 premium to become Lamborghini’s new flagship.
By speed, the Roadster version of the Lamborghini Aventador is fractionally slower due to its slightly higher kerb weight. It takes an extra tenth – at 3.0 seconds – to race from standstill to 100km/h. Good luck if you can pick that difference while you’re wrestling with the g-forces being exerted on your face and body at that pace.
The Aventador Roadster is of course powered by the same monster-size, mid-mounted 6.5-litre V12 found in the coupe. No superfluous superchargers, turbos or tricky hybrid-style electric motors on board here, thanks.
The engine produces a weapons-grade 515kW of power and 690Nm of torque – enough to catapult the Roadster to an astonishing 350km/h with the roof removed.
Visually, the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster seems straight out of Hollywood sci-fi and is therefore a fitting halo successor to Lamborghini’s most outrageous creations of the past.
The engine cover, for example, is deadly perfection - looking something like the protective plates on the creature from Predator.
The Roadster also boasts a “spinal column” with two pairs of hexagonal windows attached at each side, replacing the less dramatic, one-piece window of the Aventador coupe.
Apart from the overall design of the Roadster, the pièce de résistance is the clever two-piece hardtop. Made from forged carbonfibre (unique to the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster), each section weighs just six kilos and is easily installed or removed by one person in a matter of minutes – at least, once you get the knack of it.
Just don’t expect any useable space (whatsoever) in the luggage area with the roof stowed – other than a wallet-size, squashy bag. So you can pretty much cancel that weekend away in the Lambo.
But it’s not so much a roadster as a car sporting a targa-style roof, which amazingly doesn’t sit flush despite reducing the height of the roadster by 25mm compared with the coupe.
Lamborghini is unapologetic and cites the car’s design priority was always about the look and behaviour of the car without the roof.
For those hungry for even more decibels inside the cabin, there’s an electrically operated rear window that allows drivers to not only control how much of the V12’s roar they hear, but also adjust the car’s overall airflow.
Inside, there are no real changes to the Aventador’s familiar jet fighter-inspired console, however it has a new style of leather trim that feels suppler than that in the coupe.
Despite sharing the same carbonfibre monocoque, drivetrain and mechanicals with the coupe, including the seven-speed ISR (Independent Shifting Rod) transmission - the Aventador Roadster is some 50kg heavier.
The extra kilos come from additional strengthening around the rear pillar and the ‘pop-up’ safety system on board the Roadster. But according to Lamborghini’s Director of Research and Development, Maurizio Reggiani, the added weight doesn’t affect its lap times around the Nardo test track in Italy, which were identical to the coupe.
When we drove the Aventador coupe around Shanghai’s F1 circuit back in 2011, we reported the car was a bit of a handful on the limit and prone to some unwelcome understeer on turn-in. We also experienced some back end nervousness when hard on the pedal out of corners.
If anything, we found the Roadster more predictable – and frankly easier to pedal – during this week’s global dynamic launch of the car at the Homestead speedway in Miami, USA.
All the test cars were fitted with the optional wheel and tyre package, placing 20-inch 255/30 up front and 21-inch 355/30 down back, which clearly provided the Roadster with measurably more grip and composure into and out of the turns.
You still need to smooth with the throttle when putting all that power down or things can go pear-shaped in a heartbeat, especially in the hard-core, track-bias, Corsa mode.
Like the Aventador Coupe, the Roadster shares the same Haldex clutch all-wheel-drive system, and while it certainly helps tame almost 700Nm, it’s worth remembering that up to 80 per cent of the torque is sent to the rear wheels in this most aggressive Corsa driving mode.
Full-tilt acceleration is monumental, and torque delivery is simply never-ending.
So too is the eardrum-shattering roar from the monster V12 at the car’s 8500rpm rev range – you really need to close that rear window, if you can find the button.
Throttle response is wonderfully lag-free and urgent, but high-speed shifts are more of an assault on your torso.
Less engaging is the Aventador’s electric steering system. It tends to weight up too much mid-corner and in a less than linear fashion. Those characteristics make the car feel heavy and less precise during quick changes of direction.
You’ll need some decent quads, too, if you are going to get the best out of the carbon-fibre brakes. While they require a good deal of effort during track work, there’s no denying their bulletproof stopping power. Even after countless high-speed laps, the Aventador Roadster’s brakes refused to fade.
Things are far more civilised on public roads, with the Roadster happy enough cruising along in the more comfortable Strada mode – top removed.
Normal volume conversations can be held at well over 100km/h and gearshifts are considerably less ferocious in this mode – in fact they’re almost comfortable.
Ride quality, while sufficiently compliant on track as well as on the billiard ball-smooth US freeways, has not yet been tested on general B-roads.
Customers will have to wait some time before they can buy it to drive on their roads.
The hand-built production of the Aventador model means that Lamborghini’s output is painfully slow - just 4.5 cars each day. Of those, only 2.5 Roadsters come off the line.
Regardless of whether you have the means and desire for an Aventador Roadster, if you want one you’ll need to get in a lengthy queue that currently stretches well into 2014.
Opt for the regular Lamborghini Aventador Coupe instead and the backorders push out the waiting time even further - to 15 months from the initial order date.
And Australian customers will need even more patience, given the first display car won’t arrive here until at least the 2nd quarter 2013 – and that’s just to get a glimpse of the beast in the flesh. Actual test drive examples won’t roll off the boat until April/May.
Despite its newfound open-top boulevard-cruising pretensions, make no mistake: the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster is a brutally fast car that needs to be handled with care.
It’s not the world’s best supercar, but the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster is a triumph in automotive design without boundaries.