Power700 HP / 509 LB-FT
0-60 Time3.0 Seconds (0-62)
Top Speed217 MPH
Curb Weight3,582 LBS
MPG10 City / 16 HWY
As Tested Price$553,125
Yet it drove like nothing else, with the instant zig-zag reflexes of a mako designed in The Matrix. The Murcielago's thrills weren't laid out on the ground, you had to dig for them with your bare hands. And that's what made it outstanding.
When I first drove the Aventador at its launch in Rome, I spent the day blasting around the circuit at Vallelunga. It was so easy to drive – "too easy by half," as Jeremy Clarkson would later say of it – viciously quick, unholy fun, and very good. But it was a little too easy to drive. Which is why the Murcielago remained my favorite car, ever.
Until two weeks ago.
The Aventador came when the rough-diamond Gallardo was Lamborghini's in-house reference for ease-of-use. But now we have the fire-and-forget Huracán. Having driven one after the other, and on the context of LA streets instead of the smooth and open landscape of Vallelunga or Laguna Seca, I now see the Aventador for what it truly is: the representation of the bull that's on the Lamborghini badge – head-down, horns-out anger.
Like the Murcielago, the Aventador is big. It's more than ten inches longer than a Chevrolet Corvette, five inches wider than a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, and 3.5 inches wider than a Dodge Viper. It is also low, an inch lower than the already ground-floor Huracan. I won't pretend to be rational about it: the Aventador says everything I want a car to say. It's the certain, antidotal statement to brief and befuddled everyday lives.
The cabin is a cockpit in every sense: close-fitted, button-filled, lit up. I'm five-foot-eleven, and I wear it like a tailored suit. I gave a ride to a guy who's six-foot-three and perhaps 260 pounds, so it can fit much larger frames but I still don't know how he got in or out through that scissor-door opening.
The trunk in the Murcielago was big enough to hold a single dream. The Aventador's trunk might be larger (Lamborghini doesn't divulge cargo volume, because, why?), but it's effectively smaller in the roadster because of the guides that hold the two roof panels in place. You'll want to tap out after fitting two garment bags and a pair of narrow loafers. But the roadster pays its rent, sealing the cabin so that Bluetooth phone calls are no problem, its panels easy enough for one person to remove and stow without fuss.
This car doesn't drive itself, and the controls need your resolve. I literally rocked up in a Huracan, got out, swapped keys, and hopped in the Aventador. The Huracan drives like an automatic – release the brake, the coupe rolls forward. But when I took my foot off the brake in the Aventador, nothing happened. The clutch in the ISR transmission – that's Independent Shifting Rod, and it's a single-clutch automated gearbox – doesn't engage until you press the throttle. Come to a stop and take your foot off the brake for more than seven seconds, and the Aventador will shift into neutral. Grazing the throttle won't work, either, because the Aventador doesn't respond to suggestions. Only commands will do.
The ISR transmission will test your commitment to loving the car. Lamborghini says it wants to provide the driver the sensation of shifting, but this isn't the way you'd ever choose to change gears. Each upshift causes a pronounced tidal motion as the momentum subsides and thrust returns. You don't roll with the tide, you get clubbed by it – especially in the most hardcore Corsa driving mode.
Its variable steering rack means you can still navigate small spaces, but the hydraulic assist tests the forearm flexors even in the most comfortable Strada drive setting. Sport will additionally call on the biceps and the latissimus dorsi. But Corsa takes away your hydraulic spotter and says, "Okay, see if you can do it."
When driven around town the Aventador is stiff but capable, like a racecar praised for its on-road manners, though you know just how brutal it can be. The roadster responds to nasty asphalt much better than the Murcielago. It doesn't react like a sine wave on LA freeways. Nevertheless, it's a daily driver only for those who agree to do what it takes to drive it every day. And they'll have to order tankers in bulk at Shell to get the necessary allotment of premium gas.
The engine sounds like science fiction, a meshing thrum underneath a racket. It's a din you've never heard before because it's built to take you places you've never been before. In the roadster, the engine note becomes your sixth sense, incorporating all of the others as sounds pour over the bulkhead and into the open-top cabin.
I'd say this car needs a blind spot monitor, except there is always someone in your blind spot – a gawker, a fan, a picture-taker. It is best when pointed at a canyon and ridden, like all bulls, decisively. A naturally aspirated, 6.5-liter V12 with 700 horsepower and 509 pound-feet of torque means fiendish acceleration balanced just right between alacrity and brutality in Sport mode. And that hydraulic steering is glorious nostalgia for feeling and precision, even with that hammerhead snout hogging the road. Let attention slip even a second and you'll kiss the wall. This car doesn't glide, it doesn't pivot, and it isn't effortless. You make the Aventador do what you want it to do. And oh, will it do it.
Some say the Aventador is too much. They are right – it is. The drama, the effort, the noise, the doors, the look-at-me, they never stop. But I've never had more friends than the week I had it. A posh, private-school kid said, "Your car is the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my entire life." Men begged me to rev it at lights. Women asked me for rides – their boyfriends asked me to decline. A complete stranger knocked on my door to ask for a chance to sit in it. People line sidewalks to watch you get out of it. Only the Bugatti Veyron has come close to creating the same reaction, and it costs three times more than the Aventador.
The Aventador is easier to drive than the Murcielago. Still, it might seem dishonest for the Aventador to inherit the mantle of the last challenging thrill in the segment – as in, it's a challenge to drive at all, before you get to the challenge of driving well – only because everything else around it has gotten so much easier. But that's progress, and that's where I think we are.
And that's why the Aventador is my new favorite car.