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0-100km/h in 3 seconds... what it's like to drive a ridiculously fast, R8.6-million Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster at Kyalami race track

2018-08-27 11:35

Janine Van der Post

Image: Henry Marsh

My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty.  Was it because I was about to drive an R8.6-million super car drenched in carbon fibre?  Probably yes, but more because the automaker is much more than a sports-car brand to me. 

More than a decade as a motoring journalist has culminated into one of my automotive dreams coming true.

After an initial driver briefing, it was my turn to drive the new Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster around the glorious Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, the new home of the Raging Bull in South Africa, along with Porsche and Bentley. 

And there I was, about to drive the "reason" behind it all, around a historic track, stick this beastly machine's rear out through 'The Crocodiles' and 'Ingwe' corners.

The moment I climbed in skillfully (there is no way it can be done elegantly due to the car's low ride height)  behind the steering wheel and familiarised myself with the controls, it was all systems go with the new Aventador S Roadster.

Vital power figures

Coupled with Lambo's super sports car technologies and dynamics of the coupe, the naturally-aspirated V12 delivers 544kW/690Nm from its 6.5-litre engine. It blasts to 100km/h in 3.0 seconds and can reach a top speed of 350km/h.

I've been driving fast cars for almost two decades so I was puzzled as to why my nerves were shot. Then I remembered the wise words of SA driving instructor and former racer Grant McCleery: "A car doesn't control you, you control the car," and his sage advice settled me. 

READ: Lamborghini's 'Super SUV' for Mzansi - First orders for the R3.4-million radical Urus en route to SA

The Roadster is ridiculously fast. It's ferocious growl is euphonious to any petrolhead. Its rapid gear changes from the 7-speed lightweight Independent Shifting Rod (ISR) gearbox provides shifts up to 50 milliseconds and will send a jolt to your kidneys as it switches cogs. It's absolutely magnificent. The more you floor it, the more it transforms from a swift sports car into a savage bull.

I think what's even more fascinating is the fact that this supercar has a whopping 85-litre fuel tank, uses 13 litres of oil and 25 litres of engine coolant. 

Of course, fuel consumption isn't exactly a high priority for those with the means to splash out on an R8-million car despite SA's dire fuel-price hikes. With that said, its combined fuel consumption is 16.9-litres/100km. I was genuinely expecting it to be much more, bordering closer to the urban cycle figure of 26.2-litres/100km. CO2 emissions is an excessive 394g/km and will result in hefty extra taxes.

Is it's practical? Well, its front luggage compartment provides 140 litres of space, so provided you don't have any familial duties it's adequate for its target market. It's also suited for more open roads with that incredibly low stance and not the urban jungle filled with potholes and speed bumps.

The Aventador S Roadster was presented by Automobili Lamborghini at the IAA in Frankfurt in 2017, making emotive open-air driving an even more thrilling idea.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Stefano Domenicali, says of the beast: "The new Aventador S Roadster sets new benchmarks in technology and performance on both road and track, with the roadster version adding a new dimension in driving enjoyment.

"The Aventador S Roadster offers the thrill of open-air driving without compromising on driving dynamics or the occupants’ comfort, and adds a further luxurious dimension through the personalisation options available.”

Super sports roadster

What makes it so special? It's the only mid-rear engine V12 super sports roadster. Lamborghini says its unique status is enhanced by multiple colours and trim options, including new materials and extensive use of carbon fibre as well as virtually limitless potential through Lamborghini’s Ad Personam personalization program.

The Aventador S Roadster’s four driving modes allow the selection of Strada, Sport and Corsa and the new EGO mode, each influencing every aspect of the car’s behaviour through the management of traction, steering, and suspension. EGO allows the driver to set up his, or her,  preferred criteria in each mode to suit their driving style (read: individual set up).

The  Aventador S Roadster weighs 50kg more than the coupé and features Dione 20"/21" rims fitted with Pirelli P Zero tyres specially developed for the Aventador S. Inside, the TFT digital dashboard can be customised to your preferences and Apple CarPlay is standard equipment.

                                                      Image: Henry Marsh / Lamborghini SA

The aerodynamic design

The roadster still has the distinctive Aventador S styling with additional unique features: a combination of Lamborghini design DNA and the result of extensive aerodynamic testing says the automaker.

You can tell the roadster apart by its different lines to the coupé, giving its own aerodynamic character. The automaker says there's an engine bridge that runs from the rear window to the mix of body colour and matte black painted carbon fibre engine bonnet blades: a transparent option is also available to show off the V12 engine lurking beneath.

The removable, hardtop roof panels, weigh less than 6kg and an easy fastening system allows the panels to be removed quickly and stored in the luggage area.

The rear window is electrically operated with a button allowing drivers to hear the resonant guffaw of that V12 engine at any time. Then, when the roof is "down", the same window minimises cabin noise and airflow when the window is up.

Colour my Aventador S Roadster

There are five external body colours and five interior configurations offered, featuring leather and Alcantara in single and bi-colour combinations and various stitching and trim choices, says Lamborghini. Further external and internal packages such as ‘branding’ and ‘carbon fibre’ are offered, with the Ad Personam program for clients wanting to customize their Aventador S Roadster even further.

Customers can also choose the specification for their roof panels; either covered in black Alcantara framed by matte black carbon as standard, an optional Carbon Skin package (Lamborghini’s high tech fabric that is even lighter than Alcantara) which covers the interior roof panels and cockpit surrounds.

The car is available in a special colour called "Blu Aegir", Lamborghini says the hue is inspired by the "peaceful turquoise ocean hiding an indomitable force beneath".

The side-mirrors and windscreen frame are finished in high gloss carbon fibre. The lower part of the car including front and rear bumper, side skirts, air intakes and outlets also sports carbon fibre.

Inside, there's Blu Delphinus leather contrasted with Bianco Polar, with Blu Delphinus S-trim stripes on seats, doors, and dashboard and even the floor mats are blue and white.

Sophisticated technologies

The Aventador Roadster’s 'S' suffix denotes the design and technology advancements of the new model. The Roadster has four-wheel drive, a new active suspension, a new four-wheel steering system, and the new EGO driving mode introduced on the Aventador S coupé. Every aspect of the suspension and electronic control systems have been redeveloped, says the automaker, making its 'total control concept' assure superior drive, ride, and performance.

You would think you would need a session or two with an instructor learning how to properly start a Lambo, let alone drive one. But it's surprisingly simple. 

The enhanced lateral control from the new four-wheel steering provides improved agility at low speed and more stability at high speed, combined with Lamborghini Dynamic Steering (LDS) for responsive feedback and sharper turn-in. This means that driving and controlling the car while putting it through the Esses at Kyalami, for instance, is as easy as pie. With the new tech, you can turn the steering 30% less than usual. In other words, it makes even the most novice driver feel like Max Venturi himself (Lambo's professional pro driver) giving the Bull some horns around SA's most iconic race track.  

Watch Max Venturi give Janine a hotlap around Kyalami below:



Advanced technologies

Other technologies include improved vertical control from an updated pushrod suspension, new rear springs and Lamborghini Magneto-rheological Suspension (LMS) with revised kinematics adapted to the new four-wheel steering. A new real-time variable damping system optimises wheel and body control and balance and ground stiffness is maximised, says the automaker.

An optimised ESC system improves longitudinal control for faster and more precise management of traction control and vehicle dynamics depending on driving mode selected, maximizing grip in all conditions and enhancing handling. The permanent four-wheel drive’s calibration allows for the stabilizing effect of the new rear-wheel steering, allowing more torque to the rear axle: when powering off, less torque is shifted to the front axle to allow a sporty but safe drive.

The active rear wing optimizes the car’s aerodynamic balance depending on speed and the selected drive mode, and its significantly enhanced overall aerodynamic design improves front downforce by more than 130% over the previous Aventador. With the wing in optimum position, the roadster achieves over 50% overall efficiency at high downforce and in low drag more than 400%.

The Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster retails from R8 695 000 and includes a 3-year or 100 000km Drive plan.

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