IT’S the colour of a clown fish and driving it is like living in a goldfish bowl. Lamborghini could have called their flagship car Bubbles. Or Nemo. Or Jaws. Instead, they branded it Aventador, after a famous fighting bull.
This is also apt, because to flip up the Aventador’s doors and slide behind the wheel is to feel like a fresh-out-of-bullfighting-college matador who, as he squares up to two tonnes of angry steak for the first time, wishes he’d followed his father into accountancy instead.
The Lamborghini cocktail goes something like this: one part excitement, two parts awe, three parts fear and nine parts paranoia. Your pulse quickens, your breathing shortens and an odd sensation stirs in the pit of your stomach. And you haven’t started the engine yet. To do so, you have to flip a red cover to gain access to the engine start button. I suppose it’s just like being in a jet fighter, although I’ve no experience to back this up. If you’re in the RAF, please don’t write in.
The thing is, fighter pilots, astronauts, bin-lorry drivers… they all get weeks, months, years of training in simulators before being trusted with the controls of high-value, high-power hardware. Not me. I’m handed the keys and left to fend for myself. I learned to drive in a Metro. And it has just started raining.
So, while I take a moment to familiarise myself with the controls (flappy paddles, a button marked “R” to make the beast go backwards, pedals set slightly offset to the left in true Lamborghini fashion and a laughably small cubby box between the seats that’s just about big enough to hold a hastily-written last will and testament), amuse yourself with a look at the Aventador’s headline figures.
Under the bonnet, a few inches behind my head, is the engine. It’s a 6.5-litre, naturally-aspirated V12, that generates a staggering 700 metric horsepower – 690bhp in British. The engine is partly protected from the elements by an open slatted glass cover, so passers-by can warm their hands while they pause to gawk at the Aventador’s internals, while glider pilots soar high overhead on the thermals rising from the engine as it cools. A plaque on the engine indicates the firing order of the cylinders. This is important to someone, presumably. Who, I don’t know.
Thanks to a featherweight carbon-fibre bodyshell and aluminium sub-frames fore and aft, the Aventador tips the scales at a meagre 1,575kg, about the same as a diesel Ford Mondeo, which has one-fifth of the power. So it’s quick, very quick. In dry conditions, with the launch control setting primed, the four-wheel-drive Aventador will rocket to 60mph in 2.9 seconds. That’s not a kick in the pants off a Formula One car’s vital stats. As long as your eyes haven’t swivelled round to the back of your head, and you’re on a racetrack or runway, you can keep your foot planted to the carpet all the way to 220mph. That’s a speed F1 cars can only dream of these days.
Alas, I can only dream of it too. The rain is lashing down, so launch control won’t be coming out to play today, and I’m not on friendly enough terms with the local constabulary to risk a 200mph streak round Edinburgh City Bypass. Never mind, I shall just wear the Lambo as a fluoro-orange posing pouch and go and brighten up everyone’s day in the city centre.
Press the starter button and the Aventador wakes with an almighty roar, before settling down to a slightly underwhelming whirr at idle. It comes to life again once you give it some beans, and I’m reliably informed that your friendly local Lamborghini dealership will – ahem – “remedy” that tickover note for you if you ask nicely. By which, I think they mean you to hand over a bit more money for an exhaust upgrade.
Dab the throttle, and the Aventador refuses to budge. Dab a bit more, and it lurches forward. For such a fast car, it needs a bit of coaxing to get going. My next task is to select one of five driving modes: three manual (Strada, Sport and Corsa) and two automatic (Strada-auto and Sport-auto). Corsa, according to Google Translate, is Italian for “race” and not “wheezing little 1.2-litre Vauxhall”, so don’t be fooled. The gearbox is a robotised manual affair and, in automatic mode, it isn’t the last word in smooth shifting, so I switch to manual. It means I can hang on to the revs a bit longer, for more aural fun as I trundle into town.
Twenty minutes later, and with the fuel-gauge needle already starting to head south, I find a parking space in the centre of town, stick 20p in the meter, and retreat to a safe distance. I’ve only got enough cash for 12 minutes’ parking, but that’s long enough. Five minutes later, and the Aventador has had its picture taken seven times, three people have phoned their mates to tell them they’ve just taken a picture of a Lamborghini, and the car is going viral on Facebook.
Evening brings better weather, and I take the Aventador to see something else that’s burnt orange and photogenic. On the way home from the Forth Bridge, I find myself on dryish motorway slip road, throw caution to the wind and press the throttle more than halfway to the floor for the first time. The Aventador doesn’t flinch an inch, the grip from all four wheels keeping me on the straight and narrow as seismographs pick up a small tremor in the Central Belt of Scotland. I’m not telling you how fast I was going, but I promise not to do it again.
A cool quarter of a million pounds buys you membership into the Aventador owner’s club.
Perhaps, if you’d followed your father into accountancy instead, you would have worked out a way to afford one by now.
CAR Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
PRICE If you have to ask…
CO2 EMISSIONS 114g/km
PERFORMANCE Max speed 220 mph; 0-60 mph 2.9 secs
FUEL CONSUMPTION (combined) 17.6 mpg