by Adam Lynton
The Lamborghini Aventador is supercar royalty. The King of Sant'Agata Bolognese for over the past decade will soon make way for what Lamborghini HQ refer to as "the follower," but not before a proper sendoff. The Aventador 780-4 Ultimae represents the pinnacle of this legendary Italian; the "perfect finale" blending the best of the Aventador S and SVJ in one stunning package.
An ode to excess, this final iteration has sensational specs to match its radical looks, producing 769 horsepower from its free-breathing 6.5-liter V12, screaming all the way to 8,500 rpm, sprinting from 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds (2.9 in Roadster form), and topping out at 220 mph.
But what's it like to drive? This week, we flew to Bologna to spend a few hours with the Aventador Ultimae Roadster (in the rain). Like every Aventador that has gone before it, from the LP 700-4 to the SVJ, the Ultimae is a grin-inducing, adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. While we don't think potential owners will decide to spend half-a-million dollars based on what journalists have to say about it, rest assured they won't be disappointed. And with only 600 units to be made, the custodians of this epic supercar will know they are in something only a lucky few will ever have the pleasure of piloting.
See trim levels and configurations:
|LP780-4 Ultimae Roadster||
6.5L V12 Gas
Lamborghini gave the Aventador S an injection of sophistication, and for the Ultimae the Italian carmaker has upped the dosage.
From the new front splitter and rear diffuser to the carbon fiber rear bumper from the SVJ and elegant rear spoiler, the Ultimae is the best-looking Aventador of them all. Lamborghini calls it "the most beautiful expression of timeless design." This is a car that has been turning heads for over a decade and will continue to do so for decades more.
The Ultimae's new design elements serve a purpose too, increasing aero load on the front of the car, improving engine and radiator cooling, and enhancing aerodynamics.
Silver Dianthus wheels, staggered 20/21 inches front/rear are standard, wrapped in Pirelli PZero Corsa tires, while bronze, black, and titanium are also available.
New body color options include tone-tone configurations including the Blu Tawaret and Blu Nethuns combo our Roadster was wearing, along with 18 standard colors. But buyers will likely utilize Lamborghini's Ad Personam program where more than 300 colors are on offer, and if those are too common, you can match the color of your Ultimae to that of your favorite tie or anything else you fancy.
The Ultimae Roadster has a gloss carbon fiber roof in two removable pieces. When closed, it feels and looks like the coupe. When open, it turns the style up to eleven.
The free-breathing 6.5-liter V12 has always been at the heart of this Raging Bull, and the Ultimae showcases it is at its most powerful; 769 hp at 8,500 rpm and 531 lb-ft of torque at 6,750 rpm. You need a lot of road to hear all twelve cylinders scream at the top of their voice, but with the roof down, every mash of the pedal is met with an intoxicating wail.
The Ultimae has 40 hp more than the Aventador S and 10 hp more than the SVJ. The carbon fiber monocoque and liberal use of carbon in the body mean the dry weight of the coupe is just 3,417 pounds with the Roadster adding an extra 110 to that, giving it the same power-to-weight ratio as the hardcore SVJ.
Utilizing Lamborghini's dynamic steering and rear-wheel steering, the Ultimae is palpably easier to maneuver than the original, or even the refined S. The twisty, tight turns leading to the castle at Vigoleno never proved troublesome for the big bull; the steering is quick and precise, requiring minimal inputs, and traction out of corners with all four wheels being fed power is impressive.
There is a lovely balance to the car and fun can be had at low and medium speeds - the giant V12 just behind your head never feels like it will dominate the front end. It might be a different picture at high-speed, we never got the chance to track the car, but the SVJ with which it shares many qualities lapped the Nurburgring in 6:44.97, beating the Porsche 911 GT2 RS by two seconds. You don't manage that without a properly put-together chassis that includes massive carbon ceramic brakes and an aluminum double-wishbone fully independent suspension system.
There's just one massively frustrating element to what would otherwise be the perfect package. The infuriating seven-speed ISR gearbox - an old-school single-clutch automated manual that's a relic among today's dual-clutch boxes. Even in Strada, the robotized gearshifts are more Johnny Five than Ultron, with erratic shifts at low speeds and gut-punching ones at the top. It's better to keep the single-clutch gearbox in manual and enjoy the paddles.
Despite fitting the Comfort seats borrowed from the Aventador S, the Ultimae is no grand tourer. This is not somewhere you'll want to spend more than a few hours, with the roof up at least. The driver-focused cockpit is snug, with no room for anything more than a phone and the keyfob, but it quickly feels confined and cramped after a decent stint of driving.
We managed to find a great driving position and with the concentration required (especially with the rain lashing down) to keep the wide girl in between the white lines, laughable visibility out the back, noise in the cabin, there's not enough mental bandwidth to register the pain signals from your lower back.
Entering the low-slung cabin begins with a dramatic upward swing of a scissor door. What follows depends on flexibility and experience. Sliding in and out of the Ultimae is never a gracious affair, but once seated, owners will be faced with a jet plane-inspired cockpit with a range of premium materials. It's best to ignore the infotainment system: it's a low point for the car with dated graphics and irritating usability. This is an area Lamborghini must be focused on improving with the Aventador's successor. The digital gauge cluster changes layout depending on drive mode (Strada, Sport, Corsa, and Ego) but this is nothing special anymore.
Unique touches include "Ultimae" embroidered on the seats and a plaque on the lefthand side of the dash denoting 1 of 250 in the Roadster or 1 of 350 in the Coupe.
The automotive industry is on the cusp of radical transformation. The age of electrons will bring totally new ideas to car design and performance. Lamborghini has a clear vision for its future, and we will see that emerge in the next few years.
As automakers grapple with this new reality, cars that defined our era of combustion-powered automobiles, which took this powerplant to the absolute maximum, are being given spectacular sendoffs. The Aventador Ultimae has the most powerful unassisted V12 Lamborghini will ever build, an exquisitely chiseled carbon fiber body, and true supercar performance. On the one hand, it's raw and awkward, and on the other, cutting-edge and brilliant. It's the perfect blend of charisma from a bygone era and the modernity of the one we live in today, and that makes it every bit as iconic as Lamborghini greats like the Countach and Diablo that have gone before. We love it and if you have the chance of buying one, do not hesitate.
The LP780-4 Ultimae Coupe starts at $498,258, while the Roadster is priced at $546,847. Lamborghini is making 350 units of the coupe and 250 of the cabrio. Every single unit will be sold if they haven't been already, so it's pointless discussing whether this represents good value or not, and cars like these are more about emotion than value or practicality. The McLaren 720S is better to drive and has equally killer looks for $200,000 less, but it only has a V8. The Pagani Huayra has an equally charismatic V12, but it's aided by a pair of turbochargers and is almost ten times the price. Sworn enemy of the Raging Bull, Ferrari's V12-powered 812 GTS may have similar power and performance, but its front-engined GT nature is completely different and looks tame standing next to the Aventador. Like the Macca, the Fezza is also $200k cheaper. But price really isn't a concern for buyers of such elite machines, and on sheer emotion alone, the Ultimae is worth every cent.