The Skinny: There are plenty of rational reasons why you should (or maybe should not) buy a particular car. None of those apply to the Lamborghini Aventador - rational reasoning goes out the door, this is a decision you make emotionally, not rationally.
For the lucky few, the Aventador is everything: unmatched style, sound and presence. But for fewer still - those game enough to use it to its full intent, this hulking V12 Lamborghini is everything a supercar should be, down to the very last handling nuance.
Vehicle Style: two-door supercar
Price: $761,500 (plus on-roads) $839,900 (as tested)
Engine/trans: 515kW/690Nm 6.5 12cyl petrol | 7sp automated manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 16.0 l/100km | tested: 32.3 l/100km
Supercars are simply meant to be ridiculous. If you’re spending as much on a car as a decent family home you’d better find yourself with something brutal and outlandish in your driveway.
Which brings us to the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4. A car that takes less time to accelerate to 100km/h than it does to recite its name.
To look at, the big V12 Lamborghini is utterly imposing, looking like a stealth fighter jet that’s had its wings clipped for road use. To drive it is absolutely just as wild.
Sitting mere centimetres from the back of your head is a 6.5 litre V12 that makes a sound like the roar of a vengeful deity.
And grip? Enough to push your internal organs from side-to-side like a kid swinging a bruised banana in an empty school bag. Monstrous tyres and all-wheel-drive make sure of that.
So, what’s it like living the rockstar life of a multi-millionaire Lambo owner? Buggered if we know - but at least we can give you an insight into the car itself, and that alone is worth a wheelbarrow load of lotto tickets.
- Leather sports seats with electric adjustment, leather steering wheel, Bi-xenon headlights, LED tail lights, climate control, trip computer, rain sensing wipers, push-button starter.
- Options fitted: park sensors and rear view camera ($9600), fully electric and heated seats ($8200), multifunction steering wheel in smooth leather ($1400), embossed headrests ($2000), contrasting interior stitching ($1600), transparent engine cover ($14,800), carbon fibre rocker panel cover ($4900), red brake calipers (2600) forged 20/21-inch black wheels (13,800) Rosso Mars paint finish - part of the Ad Personam bespoke build options (19,500)
- Infotainment: Four-speaker audio, satellite navigation, USB input with ipod connectivity, Bluetooth phone connectivity, Audi-based MMI controller.
- Luggage capacity: 150 litres.
Inside, the Aventador smells like some kind of high-roller S&M fetish club - there’s the rich aroma of fine-grained leather everywhere, owing to the very liberal application of said leather on the dash, seats, doors, and steering wheel.
The seats themselves aren’t made for moving around in. You drop your bum into them and they hang on tight - the bolstering from your knees to your shoulders is designed to work in unison with the physics-defying levels of grip the Aventador can produce.
The steering wheel is compact, fat-rimmed, and there will be times your knuckles will turn white from hanging on for dear life. Behind the wheel rim is a pair of impossibly gorgeous, slender gearshift paddles.
But the pedal position is perplexing; the wheel-well intrudes so far into the cabin that the pedals are shifted across to the left to make way. At the wheel, you have have to twist to reach the loud-pedal, and left-foot braking is the only feasible option.
Vital info is fed to the driver via a TFT screen in place of a traditional instrument cluster - there’s a very real chance that an analog speedo and tacho would simply get left for dead keeping up with the Aventador’s nuclear-mad inputs.
The switchgear, again it comes from the fighter-jet parts bin. In fact, so volatile is the Aventador that its starter button is protected by a missile-launcher cover plate to prevent accidental firing.
Okay, that isn’t the real reason - but it does add a nice bit of theatrical drama to the start-up procedure.
There’s also a pretty good chance that most Aventador owners won’t be parking their Lamborghini next to a Skoda, but if they did they might notice the shared air-con vents.
More likely, the Audi-scrounged infotainment system will be more obvious. Some people don’t like that, but it isn’t really a problem.
The system works well, is familiar, and is better than Lamborghini themselves wasting time developing a sat-nav menu, when they should be devoting their time to "all things performance".
As for boot space, as the name suggests there’s enough room for a pair of boots - maybe two pair. Or a weekend’s worth of soft bags. There are no cupholders, no map pockets, and honestly you should have no need for them - this is a serious piece of precision equipment after all.
ON THE ROAD
- 515kW/690Nm Naturally aspirated 6.5 litre V12
- Seven-speed automated manual, all wheel drive
- Front and rear mono-tube damper push-rod suspension
- Carbon ceramic brakes, six piston front calipers with 400x38mm front rotors, four piston rear calipers with 380x38mm rotors
- 0-100km/h: 2.9 seconds
Before you get to the engine, even the starter motor sounds unique. It whirrs with a whining pitch, letting you know that the duty of awakening 6.5 litres of Italian V12 is no easy task.
And then, after a few short seconds, the engine powers itself, grunting into life with a note that’s unlike just about anything else on the road.
Pluck the right-hand paddle to select first gear, and step onto the accelerator, and expect all hell to break loose… but it doesn’t. Instead the Aventador is almost polite, at least for the first few millimetres of pedal travel.
It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Three driving modes adjust the engine response, transmission mapping and damper tune.
Strada is the road-going setting, and the default position every time you fire the V12 into life. It tries to hide the beast within by offering smoother gear changes, and a gentle throttle.
But stamp it off the line and the raging bull comes to the fore.
Sport, the middle mode, is the personal favourite. There’s more exhaust noise, crisper gear changes, and a slightly looser ESP intervention threshold that lets that big fat rear move around a bit more.
Then there’s Corsa - a racetrack mode that makes the V12 sing like a banshee and delivers gear changes with the subtlety of a falling anvil.
This is where you discover the insane vocal range of the engine. Deep and gruff down low, and changing to a new, more intoxicating pitch with every extra 1000rpm until the noise reaches a ‘wrath of the gods’ shriek at 8000rpm
The entity responsible for that noise is a 6.5 litre naturally aspirated 60-degree V12 which spits out 515kW at a lofty 8250rpm, joined by 690Nm of torque at 5500rpm.
It is only the second-generation V12 engine Lamborghini has produced, and the only place you’ll find it is in the rear of a Lamborghini. This engine is unique, and not shared with any other manufacturer.
All-wheel-drive grip comes via a fourth-generation Haldex system with near telepathic abilities.
Between engine and transmission resides Lamborghini’s ISR transmission, a double-plate single clutch actuating a seven-speed automated transmission.
Lamborghini claims shift times half the speed of a comparable dual-clutch box. It can be a little irksome at low speeds, but that’s hardly the right way to treat a supercar, is it?
On a spirited run through some of regional Victoria’s landmark driving roads, this driver would run out of confidence before the Aventador showed any signs of running out of grip.
Point the noise where you want it to go, abuse the accelerator, and instead of ending up shiny-side down in a ravine (I was waiting for it) this mammoth beast just claws massive sections of tarmac and shoves them out behind you.
When it comes to fun, a week in the Playboy mansion wouldn’t even come close. The noise, the brutality, the immediacy of the steering, the noise, the intimacy of the suspension, the incredible, unstoppable pull-down from the brakes, oh yes, the noise.... it all works together like a mechanical narcotic.
But, strangely, the crazy fear that every Lamborghini before it would instill in any driver is a little diluted in this car. Yes, you still fear and respect this tyrant - it is mad, of course, but also reliable, brilliantly controllable and its handling is simply in some other world.
You could conceivably schlep to work in the Aventador every day (and so you bloody should), because the ridiculous supercar compromise - homicidal power in a pre-traction control age - has been eroded. You can decide whether that’s a good thing or not.
ANCAP rating: This model has not been tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Dual front airbags, dual side ‘head and thorax airbags, dual knee airbags, stability and traction control, carbon fibre monocoque construction, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
If you find yourself with a lazy seven or eight-hundred thousand dollars lying around, and a penchant for performance, Italy is the place to go. A Ferrari F12, or perhaps the more spacious all-wheel-drive FF. If luxury is more your thing, a Rolls-Royce Wraith might be the way to go.
All start at a lower price than the Aventador, and all come with a V12 (the Wraith includes twin-turbo) but while they’re all stunning to look at, none of them is quite so menacing as the impossibly proportioned Lamborghini.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you have the means to own an Aventador, but there’s a lingering moment of indecision in your mind, then this car isn’t for you.
This might be as friendly as a V12 Lamborghini gets, but it still requires passionate and dedicated ownership. To drive it at all like it is designed to be driven, you have to be prepared to take to the track and wrestle with the beast like your life depends on it.
You could nearly be convinced by the way it looks, even more convincing is the grunting, heaving exhaust-burble on overrun.
But, at the first corner - no matter where you apply the throttle or how hamfisted you are - the sublime pull, the defiance of physics, and the earth-axis-altering slingshot "outta there" will absolutely seal the deal.
Of course, if you’re of more modest means (like me) but simply have to have one, Hot Wheels offers a $3 alternative.
Park it on your desk and never stop aspiring to the real thing.