For that wind in the hair experience in a supercar, only a handful of cars come close to Lamborghini’s latest top-of-the-line open top 2018 Aventador S Roadster. We spent some time behind the wheel of this head-turning machine in the UAE

Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy-based Automobile Lamborghini introduced the Aventador as the replacement of the Murcielago in 2011. The mid-engined supercar has since enjoyed tremendous loyalty from customers in both coupe and roadster (open top) format. Lamborghini have also ensured newsworthiness of the model series by way of periodical feature upgrades.

For this year, there’s a special gift in the form of the Aventador S roadster variant which comes with a fresher dimension from the driver’s point of view.

The exterior of the car is more or less unchanged with the exception of the greenhouse which is not permanently fixed. Interspersed with the glossy paint work are exposed carbon fibre components, finished in matte black, all around.

The manually removable lightweight 6kg top does open up space and hence getting in and out of this low slung car is much easier than its fixed roof sibling.

Space-wise, the cabin is tight but designers have ensured that most drivers can find their comfort zones. As an extremely busy cabin with lots of switchgear for various operations ranging from the car’s personalised set-up, driver aids, air-conditioning and digital instrumentation, there’s very little space allotted for knick-knacks like phones or water bottles. Climbing inside the low-slung car is much easier when the top is open and literally you just slide yourself in.

In terms of practicality, you get two boot spaces – one up front, good for hand or duffle bags and the rear which will take in small overnight suitcases.

Comfort and convenience features are actually quite generous for this segment and includes full digital instrumentation, infotainment and connectivity and modern conveniences like air-conditioning and electronic parking among others. The removable, lightweight ( 6kgs ) two-part carbon-fibre top takes a little practice to undo and once removed can be slotted in the dedicated lockable ports in the front boot.

Drivers are bound to appreciate the flexible nature of the car which enables bespoke settings to be made in various departments like suspension, steering and engine settings via the driver-friendly menu driven modes in Lamborghini parlance the EGO setting.

Driving impressions

I am familiar with other versions of the Aventadors, but this one brings about a new dimension in open top driving. Most of the operational aspects are the same from the way it fires up via a missile launcher-style shield hiding the start button, to your seat and steering wheel adjustments. Pressing the switch, the normally-aspirated 60° 6.5-litre V12 roars into life

To a spirited driver who may have craved for more power and even sharper handling, the S roadster happily obliges with an extra 38hp totaling a whopping 740hp with a redline around 8,400rpm and locomotive beating peak torque of 690Nm which comes around 5,500 rpm. Transmission is carried over which is a 7-speed automatic and power is fed to all four wheels.

The 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster is sharper and at the same time a bit more refined than its predecessor, but is still an unapologetically imperfect beast.

The magic lies in the driver-friendly nature which is nothing short of amazing – I say this because this AWD car doesn’t overwhelm but instantly connects as the driver can determine on the onset how much torque needs to be allocated depending on the driving situations through the menu driven set-up which is an absolute blast to use. Of course, I dialed in the – STRADA, SPORT, CORSA and the new EGO driving modes. As expected each of them are programmed to influence the behaviour of engine, gearbox, AWD, steering and suspension settings. Choosing STRADA offers maximum comfort and is perfect for daily use. SPORT mode switches the car to sporty, rear-wheel biased drive feel and CORSA is tailored for maximum track performance.

The icing on the cake is the EGO mode that it permits the driver to tailor the car to his specific preferences. And of course, needless to say all these performances are closely watched by electronic nannies that will chip in whenever necessary. This means you can have fun but not trick the car entirely!

In normal driving conditions, the default torque-split to the rear and front wheels stands at 60:40 which ensures the tail happy car is safe and stable with maximum adhesion on road. The Aventador also testifies to how far electronic ESP technology has advanced. In Corsa mode, the system allows the tail wide latitude before clamping down, coordinating with the Haldex’s 80 per cent torque transfer to the rear wheels under hard acceleration.

In most conditions, the driver will enjoy pushing the car in fast corners, thanks to the new four-wheel steering which 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.

Although the car has added 50kg of weight due to structural reinforcements, there’s a hardly noticeable one-tenth-of-a-second penalty in the 1,575kg car’s 0 to-100km/h sprint which can be done in under three seconds flat. Top speed remains unchanged at 350km/h and helping this are the high performance wide 355/30 Pirelli P Zero profile tyres on 20in rims.

Even at high speeds over 250km/h, downforce and stability is not an issue, thanks to its outstanding aerodynamic package which helps the car cut through effortlessly.

INFINITI Engineering Academy – Sifting for future tech leaders

Amidst the hustle and bustle of a Formula One weekend, there is a quiet revolution taking place. While most team bosses are scouting out and testing new driver talent, the folks at Renault F1 are taking their partnership with related luxury brand and title sponsor INFINITI to a new level by building on their multi-year effort to scout engineering talent.

And there is no better proof of their commitment to the program than the fact that this multi region competition run under the INFINITI Engineering Academy moniker has resulted in employment contracts to past participants.

Dragster challenge of INIFINITI Engineering Academy
Infiniti dragster challenge.

The year ending race at Abu Dhabi served as the selection platform for participants from the Middle East region, with ten semi-finalists going into a protracted skills and strategy selection process that resulted in three finalists who were put through another set of skills contests after a session where invited media (including us) put various questions to them, with scoring input that added to the judges scores.

Fahim Choudhary, winner INFINITI Engineering Academy, Middle East edition
IEA Students finalists – pit lane challenge.

After this session, the three finalists moved on to the final challenge, which involved assembling a four-cylinder bank header with the series of pipes and splitter of the exhaust assembly. It was here that the region’s winner Fahim Choudhary won his opportunity to join the winners from the six other regions to participate in a year long internship program with the two companies in the United Kingdom, complete with a good salary, company car, travel and accommodation – six months with Renault Formula One’s facilities and a further six months at INFINITI’s European Technical Centre at Cranfield.

Fahim is a student with Lancaster University in Dubai.

Tommaso Volpe, Director, INFINITI Global Motorsport and Performance Projects, said: “The INFINITI Engineering Academy has grown every year, and now in our fifth year, competition for our limited number of slots is intense. Our partners at Renault Sport Formula One™ Team and Harvard University have helped us select the brightest engineering students from around the globe who will contribute to the future of the sport and the automotive industry.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault Sport Racing, also commented: “Attracting top new talent is crucial for success in Formula One™, so we want to make sure that together with INFINITI we select the best engineers to work for this programme. Each one of these young engineers brings fresh perspectives and new ideas to the race team, which are vital.”

INIFINITI Engineering Academy semi-finalists
IEA Middle East students.

Interestingly, this year’s edition of the program saw Harvard University involved with Dr. Julia Minson, an expert in decision science, involved in the process. Dr. Minson is working with the INFINITI Engineering Academy to conduct ground-breaking research into decision making in engineering, and how the very best engineers perform under pressure to make decisions when faced with vast amounts of complex data. The learnings from the research will then be incorporated by both the INFINITI engineering and motorsport teams to optimize their decision-making processes.

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