I jumped in the car and quickly familiarized myself with the controls, including the drive selector and the settings for the Ego mode. I figured Strada (street) mode would work best for slow-moving traffic and Sport and Corsa would be more appropriate if I could find a place where the road opened up into a twisty playland. I could only hope.
The plan was to turn right on Carmel Valley Road, thereby going in the opposite direction of traffic, which would be heading back toward Monterey, then take a left on twisty Laureles Grade.
So much for plans.
2017 Lamborghini Aventador SEnlarge Photo
Carmel Valley was busy, and when I signaled to turn onto Laureles Grade I had to wait for about 15 cars to make the turn first, then got stuck behind a Ford Econoline van. I followed along at a snail's pace, flipping from Strada to Corsa to hear the wicked snaps and crackles of the overrun sound. The V-12 sounds like it's chewing up a box of rocks as you let off the throttle in traffic, which I had to do all too often. I did notice, however, that the ride is surprisingly forgiving for a supercar, especially in Strada mode. Credit those magnetorheological dampers.
I ran for awhile on Laureles until I came to a dead stop. Then I turned around and headed back. Along the way, I spotted a little side street called Hidden Hills Road. I took a right onto this twisty little bit of freedom and finally got a chance to feel what the Aventador S can do in a corner. With the dial planted in Corsa mode, I attacked the tight corners as fast as I dared, and found the Aventador shrunk to fit the road. That rear steering did indeed shorten the wheelbase. It felt stable and planted, though I didn't dare try to find the limits of grip in such tight quarters.
On my way back up Hidden Hills, I paid attention to acceleration (sudden and overwhelming) and the shifts (quick and crisp, but with a disarming pause).
An extra 30 minutes in the Aventador S
Those shifts soon turned to slushy and distracting as I made my way back onto Carmel Valley Road. With just a few minutes left in my drive. I needed to get back, but a traffic jam left me sitting in traffic for a half hour with Lambo HQ just a couple miles away.
The Aventador's single-clutch automated manual is a thing of the past and for good reason. Drivers don't anticipate the pause between shifts and they become quite annoying. Not only that, but when traffic stopped the transmission decided to go into neutral and I had to shift back into Drive to get going again. I was worried that the Lamborghini folks would be mad that I took their car too long, but there was nothing I could do but wait. My only solace? Dialing up Corsa mode, goosing the throttle, and listening to that box of rocks overrun sound.
In the end, it wasn't the ideal way to drive an Aventador S, but I'll take what I can get. Next time, though, I'd prefer some wide open canyon roads or, better yet, a racetrack. What do you say, Lamborghini?