Car reviews - Lamborghini - Aventador - LP 700-4
Unadulterated and unapologetic conspicuousness, heavenly soundtrack, brutal transmission, vicious acceleration, that look
Room for improvement
Separation anxiety, outrageously expensive options
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14 Sep 2015
Price and equipment
WHAT makes a car good value? If your target customer doesn't think your car is worth the asking price then you won't sell any, hence why every brand in Australia agonizes about pricing, competition and specification.
The matter of a few hundred dollars, a year of warranty or a reversing camera can make the difference between best seller and failure, so how in all Atlanta did Lamborghini arrive at the starting price of $761,500 for its Aventador LP 700-4?While you get back into your chair, let us tell you that the Aventador is Australia's most expensive coupe. There are more expensive variants with extra power and no roof, but for our first encounter we stuck to the, ahem, most affordable option.
Browse the standard equipment list and you may think, for a quarter of a million dollars, the Aventador is a bit miserly. You get a full TFT instrument cluster, large central display with navigation, CD player with SD card reader and a full leather interior.
Yes – some European hatchbacks offer the same equipment for a 20th of the price, but it is when you examine other areas of the Aventador that it becomes clear just how extraordinary a vehicle it is and worthy of a hefty price tag, but more about that later.
The Aventador's adaptive suspension also incorporates a lift function for negotiating obstacles such as speed bumps.
Our test car had been treated to a few options. A $13,800 set of Dione gloss-black wheels took the standard diameter up by an inch all round to 20 inches at the front and 21 inches at the back. With an aspect of 355mm the rear boots almost appeared to meet in the middle.
Red brake calipers cost $2600, electric heated seats and an essential reversing camera with parking sensors added another $7800, a glass engine cover costs $14,800 but is a must to show off your $4900 carbon-fibre engine trims.
We're not done yet. Coloured interior stitching adds $1600, a multifunction steering wheel is another $1400, and a $2000 branding package brings a few more leather bits with the Aventador name proudly displayed.
We acknowledge that someone who has the disposable income to cover the base cost probably also has a bit of spare cash to cover some extras, but does that make it okay to charge that much for them?Not convinced? We saved the best for last. Rosso Mars paint (a lovely shade of flat oringy-red) was picked from the Ad Personam range and costs, wait for it, $19,500. Final retail cost: $839,900.
Of course, one of the Aventador's most striking and enviable features is included in the base cost and the way the big Lambo looks is almost worth the entire price. Its posture is impossibly low and is so unlike anything else on the road that it is hard to believe.
We challenge you to try and resist the allure of its toned muscles, outrageously sharp lines, and would it be a true bruiser Lamborghini without those iconic scissor doors?While the stunning aesthetics do attract an amazing amount of looks, the Aventador will also command some attention from the wrong type of person. At times it was a little unnerving leaving the Lambo somewhere out of sight.
Hopping into any car that has scissor doors and a seating position about six inches from the floor requires a practiced technique, but once mastered even the act of boarding and alighting the Aventador becomes exciting.
Once inside, pulling down the perfectly weighted doors seals you into a cocoon not unlike a GT racer – only with a few more creature comforts. The deeply bucketed seats are supportive and firm but carefully crafted for comfort on even long journeys.
The typically Italian offset pedals felt strangely ergonomic and we liked the plain matte aluminium finish where other marques may have been tempted to do something vulgar with screws and chequer-plate.
The view out of the flatly raked screen and over the expansive dashboard was a constant reminder we were in something both beautiful and functional.
An all-digital instrument cluster replaces traditional gauges and can be altered to display relevant information depending on the type of journey.
Cabin storage space is minimal and we would have liked perhaps just one or two extra cubbies to throw a phone or bottle. The luggage space under the bonnet is limited, but it would be enough for two weekend bags.
At the other end, the Lamborghini engineers have filled the boot with a V12, a gearbox, a race-bred suspension system and an exhaust system to wake the dead and then kill them again. If you regard golf clubs as a greater priority than that, then the Aventador is not for you.
Placed at the geographic centre of the cabin is the purposefully guarded engine start switch. Flip its metallic red top and hold the exposed button and you feel like you are arming a bomb. Something we were about to find out isn't far from the truth.
Engine and transmission
And so we arrive at the very essence, heart and soul of any Lamborghini.
Sitting mid-mounted in the Aventador's body is a masterpiece of engine design.
With 6.5-litres of displacement at its disposal, the 60-degree dry-sumped V12 belts out 515kW at an astonishing 8250 rpm.
Its 12 cylinders crank for an unusually long time before exploding into life with a frivolously lovely bark from the four exhausts that are consolidated into one huge centre-exit tailpipe.
Click the right gearshift paddle to engage first, select manual mode, Sport setting in the drive mode settings, point your right toe and the way you feel about cars is about to change.
Acceleration is, as one would expect, brutal. With all four wheels getting the enormous grunt to the ground, 100km/h flashes past in 2.9 seconds and the forces are hard to fathom.
But just as awe striking as the violence of acceleration is the aggressiveness of gear changes. Unlike many other transmissions which now adopt dual clutches for uninterrupted power-delivery, the Aventador's seven-speed ISR gearbox has just one twin-plate clutch.
That means, with every click of the paddle shifters, the engine has to interrupt power, disengage the clutch, shift gear and then reengage the clutch.
In a competition car that would cost valuable seconds, but in a road car it creates bags and bags of character.
With each shift the engine had a chance to bark and bellow a whole orchestra of sounds that faster transmissions smooth out, all of which were glorious to the ears.
On overrun the spluttering and howling was demonic, and when on the power, the beastly V12 sang a song more vocal and animal than anything we have ever heard.
It is a true Lamborghini engine.
Fuel economy? Err no. If you are concerned with litres per 100 kilometres you are, again, reading about the wrong car. We visited the pumps twice in a day and a half, but we also spent that entire day and a half driving the thing.
Many have criticised the automated single-clutch manual gearbox, but its contribution to personality far outweighs any penalty to performance and we would gladly sacrifice a few thousandths of a second for that wonderful V12 shouting in our ears.
If faster changes are required then flicking the drive select mode to Corsa has a spectacular effect. Wring out the twelve-pot to the limit, haul on the right paddle, and the Lambo will swap cogs with such violence it borders on uncomfortable. We absolutely loved it.
Despite being tucked into the centre of the car, the engine is still clearly on display either through the rear window or through the top of the three-tier angular glass cover. We particularly liked the plaque displaying its firing order.
Some have criticised the Aventador as being a bit unrefined or dated in its technology but let us not forget that the company is owned by Audi – a car-maker more than capable of producing a comfortable and easy to drive model.
The Aventador did not end up the way it is by accident and is supposed to be as savage and unforgiving as it is. For the initiated, the raging bull flagship represents driving nirvana.
Ride and handling
A carbon-fibre monocoque forms the core of the Aventador as well as the engine cover, deployable spoiler and side air scoops, while the remaining panels, front and rear frames are aluminium.
Hanging off each end frame is a unique suspension system normally confined to the most potent track racers. Horizontal mono-tube suspension with push-rods require more space than other relatively conventional systems but the solution provides a very low centre of gravity and spectacular handling.
The chassis has been designed without compromise to handling and dynamic enjoyment, subsequently, a trait of push-rod suspension is a fierce ride, but we were happy to embrace it as part of the show.
Piloting the Aventador is not easy and we state that as a compliment. It makes you work, and like all hard work, the reward is sweeter.
With such a low centre of gravity and a 43/57 weight distribution that biases weight to the rear, the Aventador is surprisingly agile. There is no hiding its 1575kg weight but grip and poise are superb. Steering is delightfully heavy.
The brake pedal is also heavy and requires a good push but is brilliantly progressive and when more speed needs to be scrubbed, the carbon ceramic discs keep on working harder and harder.
Revving out its monstrous V12 to the redline, being pummeled by the vicious gear changes and rattled by its unforgiving ride is both violent and sublime at the same time.
The Lamborghini doesn't carry occupants, it beats them up. Resist and it will hurt, relax and you'll love it.
Living with the Aventador made us feel a little like Siegfried & Roy. Like the magician duo's pride of performing lions, the Aventador is majestic, massively powerful and an intimidating beast, and you are always acutely aware that with a moment's lapse of concentration, it will have your neck in its jaws.
We will say it once more. If you are after comfortable, quiet, practical, effortless or (dare we say it?) sensible, then please look elsewhere.
Safety and servicing
Get it wrong in the Aventador and there is a good selection of kit to save you.
Three-mode ESC, ABS, front dual stage driver's airbag and front adaptive passenger airbag seats with side “head-thorax” airbags passenger and driver knee airbags are all standard.
It is also worth making the point that, while its ultra low centre of gravity, four wheel drive system, massively capable brakes, garden roller tyres and carbon-fibre passenger cell are good for going fast, they also make the Aventador better at avoiding trouble too.
Extending the Aventador's three-year warranty by a year costs $11,600 or $22,200 for two years.
On public roads it is impossible to find anywhere that the Aventador's performance can be exploited to the fullest, and for the sake of a road review, the limits of capability for any supercar are largely irrelevant.
Even so, if going into the twilight zone beyond 300km/h is the only reason anyone buys a Lamborghini then surely the Aventador's smaller sibling – the Huracan – would do?The bullock of the range can crack 325km/h, 100km/h in 3.2 seconds and is just as fast around a track, so why wouldn't you save yourself almost half the cash?The answer is simple theatre. If going effortlessly fast is your aim then catch a plane, but if you want to be deeply involved in one of the most spectacular motoring performances money can buy, then the Aventador is for you.
Measuring more than 2200mm wide, just 1100mm tall, with styling that has to be seen to be believed, the Aventador has a presence like no other – a presence worth paying an extra $333,500 to experience. We are firm friends with the Huracan, but the Aventador stole our heart.
Supercars are a lot like bungee jumping. Neither are a sensible form of transport, the destination is of little importance and the money can nearly always be better spent.
But if you can ignore your conservative side, shuffle to the edge and take the plunge, very few things will make you feel as special. The Lamborghini Aventador epitomises that principle by making no excuses for excess.
There are other cars that can match its figures, but the Aventador is not about setting lap times. From the moment you descend into the embrace of its cabin, lower the door and stir the coals, nothing will make you feel so alive. And you can't put a price on that.
Ferrari F12 Berlinetta from $690,745 plus on-road costs
The Ferrari has the same power as the Lamborghini but sends it to the rear wheels and requires a bit more care to make progress, especially in the wet. With the engine up front, the F12 has a decent boot at the back. We also love the look of the Ferrari but it is a completely different approach to the Aventador. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Ferrari FF from $624,626 plus on-road costs
Supercar pace and a little practicality are possible as proven by Ferrari's first four-wheel drive. The FF has a boot, four seats with a folding second row but still manages to crack 100km/h from standstill in 3.7 seconds.
Lamborghini Huracan from $428,000 plus on-road costs
If you insist on having the raging bull on you bonnet but can't stretch to the big one, the Huracan is just as potent on the track but in a smaller more manageable package. It still looks every bit a Lamborghini but sacrifices some of the outlandishness and brutality of the flagship.
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