“That thing looks like a fighter jet,” “...spaceship,” “...Cigarette boat.” Few people in the presence of a 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster can bring themselves to call it a car. It’s the manifestation of immature and indulgent fantasies. And it is magnificent.
(Full disclosure: Lamborghini’s PR people bought me lunch at this joint in Malibu that was so fancy I got yelled at for taking pictures inside. Also, did I mention I drove around in an Aventador S Roadster all day?)
The enthusiast community has a complicated relationship with Lamborghini, doesn’t it? They’re mechanically impressive and artistically overwrought, but they always seem to be in the hands of people with more money than sense or skill. Top Gear’s Chris Harris put it simply when he wrote “Lamborghinis are for people who can’t drive” here on Jalopnik.
Even Richard Hammond famously panned an earlier iteration of the Aventador for basically being “too good,” that the car detracted from an earnest driving experience by being too easy to do scary-dumb speeds in.
To be honest, that particular beef is entirely fair. This era of technologically augmented supercars tend to sacrifice the visceral feeling of fast in the name of bigger numbers to print on the brochure, if not more efficient performance and daily drivability.
But I don’t care what anyone else says or thinks, and neither will you behind the wheel of an Aventador S Roadster. Being inside this car feels like riding Thor’s hammer straight through the skull of everyone who’s ever wronged you or told you “no.” I won’t lie—it feels good.
The back of the box claims that this car will go 217 mph. I’m not sure if that’s with the roof on or off; I’ll have to ask Lamborghini for a longer loan and maybe an open air strip to find out for you.
What’s important is that it’s all thanks to the engine. The driver and passenger basically wear the 6.5-liter V12 like a backpack, and it produces a claimed 740 horsepower (naturally aspirated, by the way) and 509 lb-ft of torque. Lamborghini promises it’s enough to propel the car from stopped to 60 mph in a hair under three seconds. An advanced all-wheel drive system, which changes it bias whether you’re in Strata (regular) Sport (...sportier...) or Corsa (hold the hell on tight) helps the machine track straight.
Much more impressively, the Aventador S’s four-wheel steering system helps the immense car slingshot around corners like it’s swinging from a banister and holy crab cakes can it take corners quickly. When the vehicle is moving at maneuvering speed, the rear wheels turn opposite to the fronts so that the car can make very, very tight turns. For highway lane changes, the rears steer the same way as the fronts to help the Lamborghini to move laterally.
A seven-speed single-clutch sequential automatic dramatically clicks you up and down the gears with long and satisfying paddle-pulls. With your foot to the floor, you can snap off shifts pretty seamlessly. At lower speeds, gear changing is pretty abrupt. I found it to be smoothest when you let off the throttle while you blip up a gear.
The Aventador is supposed to weigh 3,582 pounds dry, call it close to 4,000 with a full tank of gas and two people in it. The weight is distributed 43 percent front and 57 percent rear across an immense 188.86 inch overall length. But the car’s most hilarious measurement is its width: 79.92 inches side-to-side not counting the rear-view mirrors which protrude like little wings. That makes it just fractions of an inch shy of being legally required to run a row of amber lights across the roof like a big rig.
People lose their minds when an Aventador rolls up, even in a city as blasé about wealth as Los Angeles. Granted, it’s partially because they think a celebrity might be tucked into its bobsled cockpit.
Even years after its release, the design of this car is so different from anything else on the road. It’s as captivating as some of the art in the Getty. At least, that’s what I’m guessing based on the reactions we stoked on sidewalks.
The ferocious growl produced by the maw of an exhaust outlet is equally as arresting, and the heat rising off the semi-exposed engine in hazy waves of pure waste is magical enough to melt the most hardened heart.
The interior design is not nearly as distinctive, but it is impressively comfortable for a car this aggressive. The missile-switch style “safety” on the start button is a gimmick that’s still glorious. The presentation of the controls is appropriately spaceship-like. My favorite switch in the Aventador’s cockpit would have to be the rear-window roll down, you know, like a pick-up truck. It’s ideal for taking the Lambo to Home Depot and carrying long sheets of lumber home.
Just kidding. I mean, it is like a truck window (even the icon on the switch is the same) but its practical purpose here is really more like a volume knob for the engine. Roll it up and the cabin is reasonably quiet. Roll it down, and prepare your ears for pain. Of course, anyone standing behind the Aventador is going to get an aural assault whether they like it or not.
The gut-sucking sensation you would hope for comes on strong and immediately when you charge hard into the gas pedal. As I already mentioned, the car’s grip around corners seems as powerful as a planet’s gravitational pull. I’m sure the tires, a comical 13 inches wide out back, have something to do with that but the four-wheel steering and suspension seem to help too.
And even with its supercar stiffness in hard driving, the Aventador S is weirdly compliant over regular roads. It’s far more comfortable than it has a right to be, which I guess is the whole point. I’m not saying I’d want to drive this thing every day—dealing with those scissor doors and having every phone camera pointed at me at all times got exhausting pretty quickly. But I wouldn’t be too scared of rolling down Rodeo in this thing with a fresh coffee in my hand. Sadly, that’s where your beverage will have to be, because this car’s greatest fault is a lack of copious cupholders.
Complaints I’ve read about other Aventadors include brakes that can’t stand up to professional driving and a tendency to “push” in corners at its limits. I have a hard time believing that’s the case with this version of the car, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s more performance here than anyone could or should ever attempt to use on the only track that a car like this will ever actually run on: the Pacific Coast Highway and the spiderweb of canyon roads just east of it.
Oh right, this section was supposed to be about what’s weak. Trying to connect your iPhone to this low-flying space jet sucks and I’m pretty sure you can expect gas mileage in the single digits. And did I mention there’s nowhere to plop your beverages?
Actually, there’s nowhere to put anything larger than a Pomeranian puppy as long as the roof is in the frunk. It literally consumes the car’s entire cargo capacity.
Lamborghini is selling dreams. The people penning its designs and engineering the experience of driving one know that, and have created nothing less than monument to the indulgence of fantasy in the Aventador S Roadster.
The car is unbelievable to behold, unforgettable to drive and exactly what you think a Lamborghini should be. So if you’re longingly looking at a picture of one on your bedroom wall, you can rest assured that your fantasies are founded. And if you’re rich enough to be able to buy one I’m sure you don’t give a damn what I have to say anyway.
I don’t really care how the Aventador S Roadster performs on a race track or at its limits, because the car doesn’t need to approach either to give you one hell of a driving experience. Long live absurd cars, and hell yeah you should get yours with a removable roof.