2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster – First Drive


Larger-than-life personalities don’t like to compromise, especially where half-million-dollar, open-air sleds are participating. And so the late, great Murcielago Roadster seemed rather comical with its flimsy cloth roof, which limited the car’s top speed to an infeasible 100mph. As a result it rather unkindly came to betheir own roadster derivative, and this time around the LP700-4 Roadster utilizes some genuine engineering because of its two removable roof panels.

Weighing only a 13.2 lb each, the panels are made with an outer composite material wrapped around a high-pressure resin-transfer molded section. Not only do they have an elegant visual solution, they’re also stressed members, bolstering torsional rigidity when snapped in place.

Despite its roof panels tucked into the small storage compartment in the nose, the al fresco ├╝bercar boasts a staggering stiffness of 22,000 nM per degree. The Murcielago only offered 20,000 in the coupe form, no less by comparison.

What’s more, the visible difference in rigidity between the open and closed Aventador is indeedwithin the pitlane at Miami-Homestead, with the V12 rumbling mere inches behind my head, we were unlikely to make sure that the lap times due to the lead/follow format. The effect is still dramatic, though furthermore, the rooftop was in place due to debris on the track: after all, this wedge-shaped spacecraft incorporates a healthy dose of theater; first razzle-dazzling the operator with a missile launcher-style starter button. Then there’s also an enormous TFT tachometer and all of the sights and sounds you’d expect from the V12 engine under glass.

Switching to Sport or Corsa opens the exhaust valve earlier, allowing the mechanical percussion of 12 naturally aspirated cylinders to fill the cabin, even though volume levels in the cabin are surprisingly hushed in Strada mode. Lower the rear window – an awkward maneuver requiring you to reach a switch behind the steering wheel – along with a beautiful cacophony tickles your tympanic membranes, altering the soundtrack with the thrum of valvetrain chains and the whoosh of air being sucked into the combustion chambers.

Working up to speed, the Aventador reveals a fidgety, challenging personality that requires full focus on car placement – entirely from turn-in to apex to exit. Unlike McLaren’s brake steer system, which squeezes the inside rotors to help rotate the vehicle, or Ferrari’s e-Diff, which apportions torque either to rear wheel, the Aventador’s rear-biased all-wheel drive Haldex system demands patient positioning and thoughtful throttle input. Gas it too early and the nose drifts wide, understeering like a Subaru Impreza STi. Overdo the right pedal after weight transfers to the front, and the tail readily kicks out.

Within its standard setting, the ESC curtails the slip angle rather conservatively. But again you just flip the switch on the dash to Sport mode, and car rotation makes it much simpler (and hairier) to slither around the track. A characteristic exaggerated by neck-snapping gear shifts, which are strong enough to trigger the steadinessJumping from car to car revealed a fingerprint-like individuality to each and every specimen’s personality, although the carbon-ceramic brakes have a violent, seatbelt-stretching impact on the Aventador’s deceleration: not only does the pedal’s point of engagement vary wildly, so do handling characteristics and so on-limit behavior. In fact, the racetrack was this kind of smorgasbord of different vehicle dynamics it was almost a relief to hit public roads. Almost.

Beyond the purview of Lamborghini executives, the first task was to test the launch control, which required a straight steering wheel, Corsa mode, and ESC within the off position. Stab both pedals, and also the V12 howls to 3000rpm; lift the brake, as well as the single clutch dumps massive torque to any or all four wheels, catapulting the Lamborghini with a mad dash to the manufacturer’s claimed 2.9sec to 60mph. Plus it won’t quit until 217mph – the identical terminal velocity as the coupe, incidentally.

When you surrender to driving license preservation and simmer into mundane mode, it becomes virtually impossible to blend into traffic. Children gawk, cellphones hover as well as semblance of anonymity is lost. And although we had every goal of testing the road-appropriate Strada mode, its molasses-like throttle response and lazy shifts simply wouldn’t do for South Beach; with limited time in this particular over-the-top supercar, enduring the singleSure, it’s better suited to the boulevard than the racetrack, as evidenced by utilization of the nimbler Gallardo Superleggera to the Lamborghini’s Super Trofeo race series, even though it’s engineered for blinding speed and retina-detaching cornering. But don’t tell that to an Aventador Roadster driver; after all, it’s hard to care about naysayers when you’re already smitten by its fighter jet silhouette and addictive engine note.

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