Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster
Engine 6.5-litre V12
0-62mph 3 seconds
Top speed 217mph
How long does it take to develop an overweening sense of self-importance and entitlement once you have eased your designer derrière into a Lamborghini? Answer: less than two minutes. Over the years I have been lucky enough to drive some quite astounding vehicles, but the one marque I’d never sampled was Lamborghini. I know! That all changed this week when I found myself at the wheel of the frankly terrifying Aventador S Roadster. Depending on your point of view it’s either a sort of weaponised games console or one of the most awesome V12-powered hypercars ever built. For an hour or so I was driving it myself, but before that for about 20 minutes I was a passenger in the capable hands of André. He’s a pleasant and quietly spoken professional driver (and also clearly a deranged auto sadist) who sent the fire-breathing monster round the track at Goodwood at speeds approaching 200mph. I would have yipped and yeehaaed, but I was genuinely too frightened. Afterwards I asked him whereabouts he’d place those laps in terms of “being on the limit”. He shrugged and said: “Oh, about 5 out of 10.”
After André hopped out I was left to contemplate the Aventador on my own. It felt like the moment the lion tamer leaves you in the cage alone. There were a few early issues. First, the doors: called “scissor doors”, these are the features which instantly create spectacle (other than the crazy engine roar, zero ground clearance and military-grade origami bodywork, of course). Once in I couldn’t find the lever to release them and had to tap on the glass for help. Second, getting started: on the dazzling console you’ll find a bunch of buttons. There’s a “P” for park, “R” for reverse and “M” for manual. But there’s no “D” for drive. To make matters more confusing “Neutral” is indicated by 1 on the dash. To move off, you have to pull on the right-hand paddle shifter. Of course I instantly forgot to do this and so spent a while revving the car and going nowhere – which when you think about it is exactly what a lot of Lamborghini owners seem to do.
Once I started inching forward – the car growling, groaning and snuffling – the first thing I had to do was drive the Lambo along a narrow single-lane access tunnel to get out on to the public roads. Halfway down it I came face to face with a post van. The driver glared at me and folded his arms. There was no way he was going to back up. But I’m in a Lamborhini. Doesn’t he understand what that means! I can drive anywhere and do anything. Doesn’t he realise I am the king of the road… See what I mean about the rampant entitlement? I clicked the R and gingerly reversed 50ft. The post van swept past without a look.
Often people refer to outstanding cars as being feminine, as a she, but everyone refers to the Aventador as he. It seems to run on a compustible mixture of petrol and synthesised testosterone. It’s a true Rambo Lambo. Here are some numbers which are so extreme as to be almost meaningless: the car has a 730bhp 6.5-litre V12 engine. It accelerates from 0-62mph in 3 seconds. It tops out at 217mph. It has an active rear wing and aerodynamic addenda which increases downforce by 130% over its predecessor. There are four driving modes: Strada, Sport, Corsa and (brilliantly) Ego – which allows suspension, throttle and gearbox settings to be adjusted separately. Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed robotised independent shifting rod, which switches cogs in just 50 milliseconds. It has four-wheel steering. What does all this mean? It means that this is without doubt one of the most instantly astonishing cars you will ever sit in.
It goes without saying you have to have André’s skills to tap into even a fraction of the tarmac-thrashing talents of this car. But what did surprise me was how drivable it is at slow speeds. Drifting around the country lanes near Goodwood, dodging potholes and waving at passersby was wonderful. Where would I put the car in terms of being on the limit? Easily 11 out of 10.
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