Lamborghini's special power to punctuate popularity
|Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.|
Nothing can prepare you for the sudden popularity that comes with driving a Lamborghini. One minute you’re as average as white bread, the next minute you’re being photographed like a supermodel, chatted up by awestruck strangers and chased by kids who just want to get within a few feet of a supercar.
Jon Maffei, the general manager of Lamborghini Sarasota in Florida, warned me about the nearly instantaneous surge in attention the brand’s cars cause, but I had no idea how fast the it would come -- and in what forms.
At the first stop light I reached in the Aventador LP 700-4 after leaving the dealership there was a guy to my right in a beat up Ford Ranger literally bouncing up to the white line to see if he could coax me into a race.
This happened after less than 5 minutes in the car.
On my way to a friend’s house I got lost in his neighborhood and ended up on a dead end street. A three-man landscaping crew saw the car drive down the road. When I returned past them they were all giving thumbs up, smiling and taking photos with their smartphones. Soon after parking at my part-time home in Florida every kid in the building became my best friend.
More photos. More smiles.
While getting fuel a 30-something guy walked up and asked permission to take a photo of the car. “Sure! Do you want a photo of yourself in front of it,” I asked. The reply: “No thanks. It would ruin the photo if I was in it.”
This was surreal.
Having had the chance to try a Ferrari FF last summer, I figured the feedback would be about the same. It turned out to be even more intense. I’m not trying to compare the FF and Aventador.
That’s unfair because they are very different cars. The FF is the most understated model in the Ferrari lineup. It’s a gorgeous, refined and flowing 2+2 with the engine up front. The model I had also was white, like about 90 percent of the cars in Florida. The FF is truly unique, but it usually only caught the attentive eye because it blended in better with its surroundings.
The Aventador looks like something dreamed up for a comic book superhero. There is only room for two because every millimeter of the car beyond those seats is needed for the 6.5-liter, 700-hp V-12 engine that powers the car from 0 to 100kph in a stunning 3.0 seconds. Its low stance and sharp angles make it impossible to miss.
And if you don’t see it, you’ll hear it. In Sport mode the Aventador grunts and bucks during upshifts and downshifts like one of the famous fighting bulls Lamborghini names its models after. In the Strada mode the car is more subdued but it’s never tame. It’s as if it knows it is the best damn car on the road and it can’t wait for the dope at the control to unleash it from its chain. The car’s performance abilities are so well tuned that I actually felt as if I was a better driver. That’s never happened before.
After about two days of testing the Aventador needed to be returned. There was a trail of tears all the way to the dealership.
The Aventador didn’t grow my hair back, add any muscle, make me funnier, smarter or better looking, but it sure did feel that way – at least for a little while. It also provided a comprehensive understanding of why someone with the financial means would spend nearly $500,000 on such a vehicle.
Engine: 6.5 liter, V-12 with 700 hp
Performance: 0-100kph in 3.0 seconds; top speed of 350kph
Pleasant surprise I: The superb comfort of the driver's seat
Pleasant surprise II: Being able to raise the car 4cm with the flip of a switch saves the underbody from untold abuse from speed bumps.
Pleasant surprise III: The ease of opening and closing the upward-swinging doors.
Most important feature: Rearview camera because it's impossible to see directly behind the car.
Retail price of car tested: $487,695
You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at email@example.com.