by Cobus F. Potgieter
Mechanically and externally updated over the regular Aventador, the S model is Lamborghini's ballistic mid-engine coupe producing 730 horsepower from its 6.5-liter V12 engine. Sending all of that power to four wheels, the missile will reach 62 mph in only 2.9 seconds, 124 mph in 8.8 seconds, and will top out at 217 mph. The exterior is as expressive as ever, whether you're confronted by the front-end's shark fin-like detailing or (more likely) watching the Aventador S whizz by from behind. Despite a stiff carbon fiber chassis, the addition of rear-wheel steering, and a host of aerodynamic modifications built into the design, the Aventador S needs to be approached with some caution as this remains a daunting machine to drive. The gearbox also isn't as accomplished as other parts of the package. But such is the height of the Aventador's peaks (engine noise, whiplash-inducing looks, and sheer power), that you forgive it any of its flaws. It's Lamborghini doing what it does best.
Compared with the Aventador, the Aventador S gets several styling and aerodynamic changes such as a longer front splitter, along with front downforce that has improved by over 130 percent. With the rear wing in its optimum position, Lamborghini claims that efficiency at high downforce is up by over 50 percent. A four-wheel steering system provides enhanced agility at low and medium speeds. The EGO driving mode option provides more customization for the driver in terms of traction, steering, and suspension settings. The 6.5-liter V12 engine is carried over but has been tweaked to deliver just under 40 hp more than before. A new TFT digital dashboard and Apple CarPlay are among the improvements inside.
In its last model year on the market, the Aventador S received very few changes, save for the availability of forged Leirion alloy wheels, the choice of specifying an Arancio Dac center wheel lock, and some additional finishes for the brake calipers. Other than that, it's business as usual for the last Aventador S before the launch of the 2022 Aventador Ultimae that replaces all the current Aventador models.
There's very little to report for the 2020 Aventador S coupe, as most of the excitement this year happens elsewhere in the range. The Roadster is now also available in SVJ trim, but we review both the roofless and SVJ Aventadors separately. The standard S remains essentially unchanged this year.
For the 2019 model year, the 759-horsepower SVJ joins the lineup of S models in coupe form, but we review that model separately. As for the Aventador S, it is carried over as-is from the 2018 model.
The Aventador S Roadster is introduced, featuring removable roof panels and a sightly heavier chassis than the regular model - we review the roadster separately. Aventador S Coupe models carry over unchanged from their debut year in 2017.
The Aventador S is introduced to replace the outgoing LP 700-4 boasting updated styling and mechanics. The new S ups the power output of the default Aventador model from 691 hp to 730 hp, developed at 8,400 rpm and still transmitted to all four wheels via a seven-speed automated single-clutch manual transmission. Several other external updates such as optimized body panels to reduce drag, as well as mechanical tweaks that include revised suspension, accompany the new S to rejuvenate the aging Aventador, which has been on sale since 2011. Four-wheel steering is a notable addition to the spec sheet.
The Lamborghini Aventador S takes all of the Aventador's tantalizing ingredients and adds even more power and capability. The 6.5-liter V12 engine is the star of the show and now produces 730 horsepower and 507 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with a seven-speed single-clutch automated transmission, along with all-wheel-drive and four-wheel steering. A brand new Ego mode adds greater customization to the driving experience.
The Aventador S gets staggered alloy wheels measuring 20-inches in front and 21-inches at the back, LED lighting, power side mirrors, and an electrically operated spoiler. There's a massive selection of colors for the exterior and an available carbon fiber exterior package. The two-seater cabin features partial power-operated leather seats, climate control, a central color screen for the infotainment system, navigation, Apple CarPlay, six airbags, a rearview camera, and front/rear parking sensors. Extended leather upholstery and Alcantara trim are available, as are sport bucket seats or seats with full power adjustment and heating.
The thrilling LP740-4 S is Lamborghini at its best. From the howl of that V12 engine to the clever suspension system featuring the Lamborghini Active Vehicle Dynamics (LDVA) control unit, the Aventador S makes every drive an occasion to savor. The snug cabin features a digital driver’s display that changes depending on the selected driving mode, along with a wide choice of leather colors, a central infotainment screen, paddle shifters, and other features like a rearview camera and the addition of Apple CarPlay. You can also specify seats with full electric adjustment and heating, along with an upgraded sound system, a garage door opener, interior carbon trim, and a visibility and light package.
Compared to the Aventador, the latest model's proportions are not radically different, but this is still one dramatic-looking machine. The low, broad body with giant forged aluminum wheels (20 inches in front and 21 inches at the back), along with massive air intakes, is pure automotive theater. There are also LED lights, side mirrors that are electrically operated and heated, and a rear electrically operated spoiler with three different positions. At the back are tailpipes with a distinctive hexagonal design.
The Aventador S, like many supercars, is especially broad and low to the ground. Width measures 79.9 inches excluding the side mirrors but grows to 89.2 inches with the mirrors included. Height is 44.7 inches and length is 188.9 inches, while the Lambo rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase. The Aventador S has a dry weight of 3,472 pounds.
Like other Lamborghinis, the Aventador S has a wide color palette comprising over 40 shades. There are a couple of especially bright colors that suit the extrovert nature of the big supercar such as Blu Glauco, Giallo Spica (yellow), Verde Scandal (light green), and Rosso Bia metallic (a shimmering red hue). The matte shades are generally blacks and grays and make for a particularly menacing look, emphasizing details like the LED lighting elements and the side sills. Among these choices are Marrone Apus (dark black), Nero Nemesis (a lighter black shade) and Grigio Adamas (a light gray).
In a word, the Aventador S's performance is immense. Sending power to all four wheels, the 0-62 mph sprint takes just 2.9 seconds, 0-124 mph is over in 8.8 seconds, and 0-186 mph takes 24.2 seconds. A top speed of 217 mph is possible with enough space and guts. This car isn't all about the numbers, though, because it's the way that the Lamborghini accelerates that blows your mind - and your eardrums. The 6.5-liter V12's outputs of 730 horsepower and 507 lb-ft of torque are one part of the story, but it's the engine's red line that has been increased to 8,500 rpm that you'll most notice - there's nothing quite as thrilling as revving a naturally-aspirated motor to its maximum. Granted, you can get a similar experience in the even more powerful Ferrari 812 Superfast. In both cases, long live the big V12.
Nobody accused the outgoing Aventador of being underpowered, but Lamborghini saw fit to lift the 6.5-liter V12's outputs anyway - it now puts out 730 hp and 507 lb-ft. That's a nice increase in power of just under 40 hp and, as before, the mesmerizing V12 howl is omnipresent, this time filtered through a revised exhaust system that's 20 percent lighter than before. It's a pity, then, that one of the best engines on the planet is let down a bit by the transmission. A seven-speed, single-clutch automatic unit, it doesn't come close to the latest generation of dual-clutch 'boxes. It's difficult to get the balance right with this gearbox because the shifts are either too languid or unreasonably harsh. Lifting off the throttle smooths out the gear changes, but it's not something that Audi R8 drivers will need to worry about doing. Of course, the transmission's shortcomings are always temporary because the V12 tends to overshadow them with its character and sheer strength. Whether from a standing start or once on the move, the Aventador S simply annihilates anything in its path. Passing 6,000 rpm in this thing will make you lament the day that anyone ever conjured up the idea of turbocharging.
The two big changes to the Aventador S are the new four-wheel steering and the customizable Ego driving mode. The former is a first on a series production Lamborghini and the system really does endow the large supercar with improved agility and maneuverability at lower speeds. The Ego driving mode, meanwhile, makes the Aventador S more enjoyable and versatile than before - where the previous car's sportier driving mode could be a bit rough on public roads, now you can set everything individually. We especially like the combination of the steering and suspension in the softer Strada mode (which lightens the steering effort required) with the powertrain in the more aggressive Sport mode. It means you get an excellent combination of supple dynamics and spine-tingling engine noise and responsiveness. For track use, Corsa mode tightens everything up in unison but results in a ride that is positively punishing.
In the confines of the city, the Aventador S strains at the leash and also feels too large to really let loose. This, then, is a car that needs plenty of space to perform and when you can find that, you'll love its sharp responses and the improved nimbleness thanks to the latest suspension updates. Set everything to the calmer Strada mode, and the Aventador S is fine for daily use, although the engine never lets you forget it's there. Tire noise is also an issue. But as a supercar designed to thrill, the Aventador S does precisely that.
There are few quicker ways to burn gasoline than in a Lamborghini Aventador S. The EPA-rated economy estimates make for painful reading, with only 9/15/11 mpg expected on the city/highway/combined cycles. According to the EPA, you'll spend $14,750 more in fuel costs over five years relative to the average new vehicle, not that such trivialities will bother the typical Aventador S owner. For what it's worth, a combined range of around 247 miles should be possible on a 22.5-gallon tank of fuel.
Once you've stepped in through those dramatic scissor doors, you'll find yourself in a racy cockpit that hasn't changed all that much. There are some fighter jet touches like the flap covering the engine start/stop button and a row of toggle switches that remind you of what you're sitting inside. Less of a design triumph are the plain air vents that look as though they come out of any Japanese subcompact. There are a few other issues as well. Although the seats are attractively trimmed in leather or the usual Alcantara, if you so wish, they aren't as supportive as they should be. There's not an abundance of headroom, either. Still, it feels sporty and exotic for the most part, and the pair of perfectly positioned paddle shifters, the central tachometer, and the carbon-fiber trim are clear indications of the driving experience to come.
The Aventador S is a strict two-seater. Entering the supercar is an event on its own thanks to the scissor doors that open skywards, but ingress and egress are otherwise not too much of a compromise - although it does take more effort to lift yourself out of the low-set seat. Legroom is fine, but headroom isn't especially generous, not a great surprise when you consider how low the Lamborghini is. The seats are also a mixed bag and lack adequate side support, something that's an issue in a car that can carry so much speed into a corner. Perhaps optioning the available sport bucket seats isn't too bad of an idea, but these lack power adjustment. What does help with the driving position is a steering wheel that extends far out to meet the driver. Don't expect to see much out of the back, though, with a V12 in the way your view is somewhat limited.
The Aventador's interior is a nice mix of leather, carbon-fiber, and metal-look trim which you can customize to your heart's content. Besides the unicolor leather, you can also specify Sportivo leather, Elegante leather, or Alcantara upholstery. If you go for the more opulent Elegante leather, for example, you can choose a main leather color (Nero Ade or Marrone Elpis) with five secondary color choices and four different types of stitching. Sportivo leather has an edgier range of colors like Blu Amon and Arancio Dryope (a distinctive orange) and these can dramatically alter the ambiance.
Extended leather and Alcantara are also available, as well as a carbon skin cabin treatment. Available lightweight sports seats are made out of a carbon fiber shell. You can also choose between a leather steering wheel with either suede leather or perforated leather inserts.
With only around five cubic feet of space in the frunk, even luggage for weekend trips away will struggle to fit in the small space provided. It's not much better inside, with small-item storage limited to a slim glovebox and a center storage compartment that can take a small wallet and little else.
Like Ferrari, Lamborghini doesn't give you all the features you'd expect at the price - the focus here is on performance hardware more than anything else. Standard features include climate control, power windows and mirrors, power-adjustable seats, push-button ignition, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a 12V power outlet, a hill holding function, and headlight washers. There are loads of options, but the majority are cosmetic and relate to trim and upholstery choices. Among the available features are a garage door opener and increased power adjustment for both seats.
In front of the driver, a digital TFT display changes depending on which of the four driving modes you've selected. Other functions are handled via the central screen. The Lamborghini's infotainment system hasn't taken any great leaps forward, and it would have been nice if it did. Based on an older version of Audi's MMI, it feels like a step behind the best and the graphics aren't anything special. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay has been added to a standard specification list that includes Bluetooth connectivity, navigation with traffic information, and text to speech functionality. Otherwise, there's a fairly basic audio system with decent rather than outstanding sound reproduction.
According to the NHTSA, the Lamborghini Aventador S was subject to one recall for engine management software that may result in a stall when coasting to a stop. The recall applies to 2017-2019 year models. Other than this, no recalls have been issued for this specific model.
As Italian cars can sometimes be temperamental, it's good to know that Lamborghini covers the Aventador S with a basic three-year warranty regardless of miles covered. The drivetrain is also covered for the same period.
Exotics like the Lamborghini Aventador S are crash-tested about as often as one fills up a Tesla with gas, which is to say, never. As a result, local authorities have no crashworthiness ratings for this supercar.
The Aventador S doesn't come with many of the nannying driver safety aids you can get in cars that cost a fraction of the price - if you want gear like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and collision mitigation braking, you're better off knocking on the door at Mercedes-Benz. You do, however, get six airbags as standard, including knee airbags for both the driver and passenger. You also get front/rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, traction/stability control systems, and ABS braking.
The Aventador S is as mean, exhilarating, and breathtaking to look at as the car it replaces. But now, it's even better to drive. The new four-wheel steering system and other tweaks have helped to overcome the supercar's sheer size and made it easier to control, especially at lower speeds. The Ego driving mode is also a worthy addition, allowing drivers to tailor the suspension, steering, and powertrain settings just as they like. Even if these improvements weren't implemented, the Aventador's 730-horsepower V12 is such a masterpiece of an engine that on its own, it ensures the Lamborghini of legendary status. The weak link in the package remains the single-clutch gearbox that just hasn't evolved with the rest of the car. We could also point out the outdated infotainment system and the lack of cargo space, but that's a bit like admonishing a Toyota Yaris for not being a sharper track tool. As a supercar, the Aventador S checks one of the most important boxes of all: it feels truly special. For another V12-engined supercar with softer lines, you may want to take a look at the Aston Martin DB11. Ferrari, of course, also offers even more focused driver's cars like the 488 Pista. But parked alongside anything else you can think of, the Aventador S screams the loudest.
At $417,826, the Aventador S is reserved for society's elite. That price is also exclusive of optional extras (which can add tens of thousands of dollars in a flash), tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $3,495.
While there are many optional extras, these are primarily cosmetic - there are precious few feature upgrades for the performance-focused Aventador S. There are two interior carbon fiber packages to choose from, and these cost over $12,000. If you want the exterior carbon fiber package, prepare to part with $19,200. An available Travel Package goes for $1,100 and adds cupholders and a load restraint to a cabin that largely lacks practical storage options. The Visibility and Light Package costs $1,800 and the Style Package goes for around the $1,700 mark.
Other extras include brake calipers painted in your choice of color ($1,400), a full leather cabin upgrade ($2,000), carbon skin interior with the full leather upgrade ($6,200), pearl effect paint ($4,900), sport bucket seats ($7,200), fully electric and heated seats ($4,200), and a Sensonum premium sound system ($4,200) - the latter doesn't come close to the premium sound systems you'd find in a German luxury sports car, though, so give this one a skip.
With only one trim to choose from, your final product will come down to the options list and how much you're willing to spend. With value for money a non-factor at this price level, we'd spec ours with the exterior carbon fiber package and the sport bucket seats, since the standard seats lack a bit of support. Other than this, you'd probably need around $10k to specify your favorite paint and wheel combinations. The total works out to around $444,236, but this is only scratching the surface of how much you could actually spend on an Aventador S, as fully loaded, prices can rapidly approach north of $500,000.
As the 'baby' of the Lamborghini range, the Huracán is essentially half the price of the Aventador S, but is it half as good? We'd have to say no, because even though you don't get a V12, the Huracán Evo's 631-horsepower V10 engine also revs to the heavens above with an otherworldly wail of its own, and gets to 62 mph in exactly the same time as the more powerful (but heavier) Aventador S. Both are thrilling cars to drive, although the smaller Huracán is a bit less intimidating and its dual-clutch gearbox is simply better than the dated single-clutch in the Aventador. The Aventador S does get one dynamic edge, though, in the form of the customizable Ego driving mode. For the purists, you can get the Huracán with rear-wheel-drive, whereas the Aventador S doesn't have this option. At nearly $200,000 less, the Huracán Evo (which is a facelift of the Huracán) seems to be the much smarter option. But in the world of Lamborghini, you also want the ultimate, and the Aventador S simply has more cylinders, more power, and even more arresting looks.
Italy vs America. Can a V6-engined Ford really take it to one of Lamborghini's V12 legends? Performance-wise, it can: the twin-turbocharged V6 in the GT manufactures 647 horsepower and will get the Ford to 60 mph in just under three seconds. As exciting as the V6 sounds, the Lambo's V12 is from another planet in the way it races to 8,500 rpm. The two supercars also diverge in how they look and feel: the Lamborghini appears heavier and more intimidating. The GT is sleeker and lither in its appearance. Inside, the Lamborghini is more luxurious but the Ford has been set up purely for an interactive driving experience. And indeed, on the road, the RWD Ford GT is an even sharper driving tool, and its dual-clutch transmission eclipses the Aventador's flawed unit. None of which means that the Italian is significantly outclassed because it can hold its own dynamically and the V12 is always an utter joy. These are two cars with very different personalities that end up being surprisingly evenly matched once you've tallied the scorecards. We'd be more than happy to drive either one of them home, but we'd choose the GT for the occasional track day.
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