Expert Reviews

First Drive: 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster

If you’re one of those people who just can’t get enough attention, and happen to have a spare $506,751 kicking about, the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster will be a sure fix. Especially in Blu Cepheus.

Its main purpose is to garner slack-jawed stares, make ridiculous noises, thrill driver and passenger with felonious bursts of speed, and perhaps most importantly, put said persons on full display.

Last year, the coupe version of Lambo’s flagship V12 supercar received a mid-cycle makeover, that, along with a new S moniker, bestowed fancy front-end styling, more downforce, rear-wheel steering, magnetorheological adaptive damping, a redline bump of from 8,250 to 8,500 rpm, and 40 more horsepower. Because sometimes 700 just isn’t enough.

For 2018, the Aventador Roadster gets the same treatment. I’m rifling along some spectacular roads in the Muskokas, north of Toronto, in a silver Aventador S Roadster. Without question, removing the roof of this wicked wedge from Sant’Agata Bolognese kicks the experience up several notches. First and foremost, your ears benefit from an extra helping of the unworldly racket provided by its naturally aspirated 6.5L V12. And yes, this bent-twelve can scream louder than your passenger.

Introduced at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, the Aventador is the fifth top-dog V12 mid-engined Lambo – the first being the Miura produced from 1966 to 1973. Then came the Countach, Diablo, and Murcielago.

The Aventador was a clean-sheet vehicle, drawn by in-house studio Centro Stile. The tub is carbon fibre, as is the rear deck lid. The remaining body panels are mostly plastic composite. While its roof may be no higher than your waist, the Lambo’s derrière is broader than that of a GMC Yukon.

There’s no folding top here – metal, fabric, or otherwise. Two removable glass panels can be left at home or stored in the miniscule front trunk, rendering it pretty much useless. Oh, you could wedge a jacket in there if you had to. In fact, storage in this open-air Lambo is essentially nonexistent. There is a tiny glove box and that’s it. No cubbies in the console or doors, so whatever you have to carry has to find space in the passenger footwell.

Of course, pragmatic concerns such as these suggest there might actually be an element of rationality to this fire-breathing Italian trinket that, with the usual upgrades, will set you back north of 600 large.

Uh, no.

You won’t be taking this car on an extended tour (unless you’re a masochist), and probably not to the track either. Its main purpose is to garner slack-jawed stares, make ridiculous noises, thrill driver and passenger with felonious bursts of speed, and perhaps most importantly, put said persons on full display.

My silver Roadster’s interior is lavishly swathed in hand-stitched red and black leather. The workmanship is exquisite, the seats firm yet coddling, but the old Audi infotainment system with its small screen dates the cabin. Sorry, getting rational again. More importantly, a pair of giant column-mounted metal shift paddles flank the steering wheel and, like something sourced from a Cold War missile bunker, there’s the starter button under its bright red flip-up cover.

The starter spins with a frenzied fury and the big lug catches, settling into an idle that sends an ominous quiver through the structure. Tugging the right paddle selects first gear, and you’re off. Power gets to all four of the Aventador’s wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) through an abrupt seven-speed single-clutch automated manual transmission. In the world of supercars this type of gearbox is a relic, but Lambo sticks with this setup because it is tough, compact, light and… well, the Aventador was not made to thread through traffic. When really hammering on, the brutality of the transmission perfectly matches the brutality of the rest of the car.

There are four drive modes to chose from: Strada (street), Sport, Corsa (track), Ego (individual) – that offer various levels of antisocial extremism via alterations to the parameters of the drivetrain, steering, and suspension. In Strada, the Aventador makes an attempt at normalcy by muting the exhaust sound, lowering the shift points and giving a few more milliseconds between shifts which in reality feel like yawning chasms. This car does not do “smooth” and it really feels unhappy here.

Things get better in Sport. The exhaust comes into play, and by gawd, what a repertoire. In the upper reaches of the rev range, the epic V12 cycles between a hair-raising banshee wail and artillery-grade reports on overrun that will have civilians running for cover. Or in the case of one fellow, running at us and shaking his fists as our cacophonous convoy blew past his house.

Even when just cruising, the huge twelve-pot with all its valves and gears and voracious sucking of air sounds like a small factory behind your head. It will run on six cylinders under light load, and there’s even an automatic stop-start function, presumably reducing fuel consumption from hysterical to merely humorous.

The Aventador S also benefits from new Dynamic Steering that adjusts its ratio depending on speed – the faster you go, the higher the ratio. And the rear-wheel steering certainly helps in slow-speed manoeuvrability by shaving a full metre off its turning circle.

Despite all the noise, bravado and licence-vaporizing pace, the Aventador S Roadster is not intimidating to drive. It’s a planted, stable-handling supercar that will serve up no unwanted dynamic surprises. The steering feels a bit wooden, but it carved up these snaking Muskoka roads with ease, showing laser-like path control and grip for days. The scariest thing about this big beast with its dearth of rearward visibility is parking it.

Those in the market for an open-top Aventador S don’t need me to tell them it’s a lousy daily driver. They will have plenty of other cars for that. It’s a piece of uncompromised rolling Italian sculpture. A home for one the greatest, and possibly last, big-bore naturally aspirated V12 engines this planet will know. A batshit-crazy ballistic sci-fi prop that has you front and centre as part of the spectacle.

And in that light, the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster is absolutely perfect.