- Fearsome acceleration
- Jet-fighter styling
- Incredible V-12 sound
- Involved driving experience
- ISR transmission alternately brutal and laggy
- Minimal cargo space even for a supercar
- Small cockpit and firm ride hamper comfort
The 2014 Lamborghini Aventador line will turn every head in a three-block radius--exactly like it's supposed to.
Extreme in looks, performance, and price, the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 is the very definition of the modern hypercar--though Lamborghini has built a handful of even more limited-volume, high-performance cars.
As a Lamborghini's top production model, the Aventador is a head-turner. Anyone driving the coupe or convertible versions of the car will attract attention, whether they want to or not--but let's face it, you don't buy an Aventador to fly under the radar.
The two-seat cabin is futuristic, feeling and looking more like a jet fighter cockpit than a simple street car. The exterior is almost space-going, with a violent wedge shape that trails edges and sharp points from nose to tail.
The exotic looks match the performance: a 6.5-liter V-12 engine rated at 691 horsepower sits right behind the occupants. Both Roadster and hardtop models share the same suspension tune, since the open top only has a negligible effect on rigidity of the carbon monocoque chassis. New this year is a 50th anniversary model, called the Aventador LP 720-4 50° Anniversario. As the name suggests, horsepower is bumped to 720 metric horsepower (710 U.S. horsepower), and it gets a few special 50th-anniversary touches, including an aggressive aerodynamic kit, unique wheels, badges, and a new color option, Giallo Maggio, Italian for "yellow May," commemorating the month in 1963 that Lamborghini was incorporated.
Despite the extensive use of lightweight materials throughout the Aventador, it weighs, at a minimum, about 3,700 pounds. Still, the Aventador is capable of some very athletic feats of acceleration, hitting 60 mph in less than three seconds and speeding on to a top speed of 217 mph.
On the handling front, the Aventador is very wide, and feels it. That width helps it corner with a flat attitude, while simultaneously narrowing the margin for error on a guardrail-wrapped mountain road. Around town, the Aventador is stiff, but not objectionably so, and when driven hard, it seems to take to it well, but a lack of feedback through the steering--and knowledge of the repair costs--can hurt driver confidence.
Mated to the big V-12 engine is a new ISR (Independent Shifting Rod) transmission, which is effectively an automated manual transmission, operated automatically by the computer, or by the driver via steering-column-mounted paddle shifters. Shift times are a lightning quick 50 milliseconds, and shift quality can vary depending on the drive mode. Three modes are available: Strada (street), Sport, and Corsa (track).
In Strada, the Aventador and Aventador Roadster are geared for very low rates of acceleration; trying to take off quickly or downshift under braking will result in jerky motion as the computer slows down the ISR gearbox's reactions. Sport mode is smooth and quick, and it's the mode we prefer on the street. Corsa turns full-throttle shifts into a full-body experience, but it can grow old quickly if you're not hammering around in search of the last few tenths on track.
This ability to completely shed its civility makes the Aventador an unusual car, and all the more intriguing.
On the you're-actually-going-to-have-to-live-with-this-sometimes front, the Aventador is not especially spacious, either in the cabin or in the cargo area. Two adults and a weekend's worth of gear is a tight fit. A self-raising nose feature does help entry and exit from steeper parking lot ramps, however, preventing unsightly scrapes.
If you're worried about gas mileage in a $400,000 hypercar, your priorities are misplaced, but for the statisticians, the Aventador scores 11 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, and 13 mpg combined. The Roadster manages just 10 mpg city, 16 mpg highway, and 12 mpg combined. It's not a green car, whatever color you paint it.
While we're on the topic of colors, the Aventador can be painted nearly any shade or hue you can imagine. If it's not one of the many standard options, Lamborghini will gladly create a unique shade just for you through one of its personalization programs. Likewise, most of the equipment that comes the Aventador is standard across all cars, but you can add or subtract nearly anything that will fit.