Lamborghini has hit the bull’s eye with its latest creation: the Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster. From its aggressive minimalistic design to its monstrous engine, it leaves little to be desired.
Powering the roadster is the same engine as the Aventador coupe – it’s a mid-mounted 6.5-litre V-12 with a staggering 700 horsepower and 509 lb-ft of torque.
The 12-cylinder engine is the true heart of a Lamborghini. Ferruccio Lamborghini’s first model, the 350 GT, left the factory in Sant’Agata, Italy, in 1964 with 12 cylinders, 3.5-litres of displacement and 320 horsepower – impressive stats back then. Over time, the V-12s improved, adding more power in the models that followed: including the Miura, Espada, Countach, Diablo, and the Murciélago. The Murciélago is gone – replaced with the Aventador. Since it came out of the stables in 2011, sales have spiked.
“For Lamborghini, it was a good year last year against the trend. … This is mainly to the Aventador coupe. Overall, we have an increase of 30 per cent,” boasts Stephan Winkelmann, president and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. “We delivered last year more than 900 [Aventador coupes]. It could have been more if we didn’t have the earthquake in our region. … The best year of the Murciélago coupe was in 2007 – 425 cars. We delivered more than double of the Murciélago with the Aventador coupe.”
The Aventador Roadster raises the bar even higher. And there’s no better place to put its 700 ponies through their paces than at the Homestead Miami race track in southern Florida. In pit lane, I fire up the engine. A simple task – push the start button, hidden beneath a red flap on the centre tunnel. The beast growls to life instantly. We take off. The screaming crescendo of the engine is deafening. Nail the throttle and the roadster accelerates like a rocket, hitting 100 km/h in three seconds flat.
An Independent Shifting Rod (ISR) transmission is mated to the engine. It’s conceived as a two-shaft unit with seven forward gears. Two shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel let you shift through the seven gears easily – the right paddle up-shifts; the left paddle downshifts. The shift times are extremely short – just 50 milliseconds. The ISR is also lighter and more compact than a dual-clutch transmission – an added bonus for a super sports car like this one.
Five driving modes are available at the touch of a button – three manual settings (Strada, Sport, Corsa) and two automatic ones (Strada Auto and Sport Auto). Strada, which means street in Italian, is ideal for your daily commute. Sport is more dynamic with higher shifting points and shorter shift times. Corsa, which means race, is built for the track. It includes Thrust Mode launch control, which is an automated system for maximum acceleration from a standstill.
On the track, the Aventador roadster is agile, nimble and quick, reaching speeds in excess of 240 km/h easily. Along the smooth, progressive banking, it handles impeccably. The steering is precise, following the driver’s every input instantly. Along the hairpin turns, it’s stable and secure thanks to massive wheels and a permanent all-wheel-drive system that can continuously vary the torque distribution to the front wheels from 0 per cent to 60 per cent of total torque available. It’s also quiet and composed, and feels more like a coupe than a roadster.
On the environmental front, the Roadster incorporates new innovative technology to cut down on emissions and fuel consumption. To reduce idling when stopped, a new stop-and-start system automatically kills the engine when you’re stuck in traffic or at stop lights. The V-12 engine restarts in only 180 milliseconds when you press the gas pedal. The transition is seamless and barely noticeable.
Another feature is the cylinder deactivation system (CDS). Uuder low load and at speeds of less than 135 km/h, the CDS deactivates one of the cylinder banks to make the engine run as an inline-six, which improves the fuel efficiency significantly. As a result, the average fuel consumption of the Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster falls by 7 per cent to 16.0 litres/100 km in combined driving. At a cruising speed of 130 km/h, the reduction in consumption and emissions compared to the 2012 Aventador coupe is as much as 20 per cent.
The Aventador roadster is stunning, aggressive and bold in its design – top up or down. But here’s the problem: going topless takes time and patience. The two-part hard-top roof isn’t power operated – you have to physically get out of the car and attach/remove the roof panels by hand. And when the panels are stored in the front trunk, there’s little room for anything else – not even my purse. My driving partner’s briefcase doesn’t even fit – it rests awkwardly on the centre tunnel, sliding back and forth while we drive towards Miami’s trendy South Beach.
But when the roof is off and the sun is soaking your skin, all is forgiven. Onlookers snap cellphone pictures, kids wave from the back seats of other cars and adults praise the roadster at every opportunity. Everyone adores the new shade of Azzurro Thetys (azure blue). Shiny dancing crystals change colours subtly depending on the angle of light. The colour pays tribute to the 1968 Lamborghini Miura Roadster. New, bigger, optional Dione wheel rims – 9-x20-inch at the front and massive 13-x21-inch at the rear are distinct and eye-catching, too. The forged aluminum wheels also reduce the weight of the vehicle by 10 kilograms.
The 2013 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster is built for the track, yet equally at home on the road. It hits dealerships this summer with a price tag of $485,000. But be patient if you want one – the waiting list is at least 15 months.
2013 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster
Type: Two-door, two-passenger luxury roadster
Engine: 6.5-litre V-12
Horsepower/torque: 700 hp/509 lb-ft
Transmission: Seven-speed automated manual
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 16 combined; premium gas
Alternatives: Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport convertible, Porsche 911 Turbo S Cab, McLaren MP4-12C Spyder, Ferrari 458 Spider, Audi R8 Spyder, Aston Martin V-12 Vantage Roadster