2013 Lamborghini Aventador: First Drive

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Lamborghini. The very name conjures myth and legend for those of us who grew up with the wedge-shaped supercars tracing their promises of sex and speed across the pages of magazines, posters, and, ultimately, our fantasies. But Aventador? What does that mean?

It's the embodiment of those childhood fantasies in the way the Countach and Diablo were their two-dimensional parents. It's the car that will spark millions more of us. It's gearhead Genesis.

It all starts with a 325-pound carbon fiber monocoque, a feature not unique to the Aventador, but still very cutting-edge. Then there are the inboard dampers, actuated by pushrods, much as you'd find in a modern formula car. That's a big step for a series production car, if the Aventador can be called such. They do turn out three per day or more.

The Aventador is powered by Lamborghini's latest take on the V-12, a 6.5-liter, 700-horsepower beast of a thing that makes a cacophony of all the right sounds to set a wide-eyed-kid-turned-jaded-auto-writer's heart aflutter. In fact, the engine is at least as important to the Aventador's mix as the carbon chassis, as it weighs 518 pounds--or about 12 pounds more than the body-in-white.

2013 Lamborghini Aventador

2013 Lamborghini Aventador

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All of these elements are tied together through the expected Lamborghini all-wheel-drive system and what the company calls its Independent Shifting Rods (ISR) transmission. This, friends, is the dose of bizarre and oddly crude technology required of all legendary Lamborghinis.

In street (Strada) mode, the Aventador is rather docile, with none-too-greedy throttle tip-in, easy steering, and a less-raucous exhaust tone. But accelerate gently from a stoplight, and, as the ISR gearbox shifts from first to second gears, you're likely to head-butt the steering wheel if you're not careful as the shift proceeds at a positively glacial pace. Your passenger will probably shoot you a "Do you know what the hell you're doing?" look, and bystanders might mutter, "Psshh. Lambo drivers."

The pain of it is that this is in automatic mode.

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