There are quicker, faster and lighter exotic sports cars out there, yet none have as much stage presence as the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster. This strikingly styled Italian drop-top is so conspicuous that it doesn’t just turn heads — it induces physical whiplash.

In the most general terms, there is no other sports car on the road that projects power, affluence and exclusivity as effectively as the Aventador S Roadster. Its massive physical stature visually elbows lesser vehicles out of its way, while its radically angular body panels shame fighter jets flying 40,000 feet overhead. Even if out of visual range, the stunning cacophony bellowing out of its triple-ported exhaust outlet – the startling screaming wail of a naturally aspirated V12 – terrifies.

In every perceptible sense, this is the ultimate Lamborghini — it is the brand’s current flagship.

A passenger compartment that mimics the cockpit of a spacecraft

Climbing into the Aventador S Roadster is less of a challenge when compared to its Coupe sibling, thanks to the removal of its restrictive roof. But despite a colossal exterior stature, the passenger cabin feels tighter than that of a Mazda Miata. Anyone over six feet tall will feel cramped and restricted, especially in terms of legroom. And leave all of your luggage at home, as the Roadster’s collapsible roof effectively fills the small trunk in the nose when it’s stowed out of sight.

Yet those annoyances are forgotten once seated within the Lamborghini’s cockpit. The leather aroma, even with the top removed, is intoxicating as all soft touch points are covered in exquisite natural hides.

The switchgear – a combination of tactile levers, toggles and dials – is crafted from high-grade alloys and composites. There’s a tall center-console compartmentalizing the two passengers, with its horizontal surface covered by window, infotainment, seat, drive mode, parking brake, and ignition controls (the latter beneath a cool red flip-up cover). A configurable high-res color screen, set directly in front of the driver, looks like it was stolen from a video game. In terms of setting the mood, Lamborghini has hit the nail on the head. The passenger compartment is avant-garde and futuristic – the craft that takes future humans to Mars should look so cool.

Ferocious naturally-aspirated V12 power

The Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster doesn’t do anything second-rate. It boasts one of the biggest and most powerful engines in the entire automotive kingdom — a massive naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V12, which is rated at a jaw-dropping 730 horsepower. The mid-mounted engine sends power to a permanent all-wheel-drive system through a single-clutch automated gearbox. With the help of launch control, a 0-60 mph launch is a mere 2.6-second blur, and the Roadster will run to 217 mph if offered the real estate. And don’t worry about reigning in the ferocious energy, as gargantuan pizza-sized carbon-ceramic brake discs with massive calipers are standard – the sports car stops equally as impressively.

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Mash the throttle in Corsa mode (its most aggressive race setting) and the 4,150-pound Lamborghini launches forward like an angry bull — requiring a manual upshift each time the V12 spins to its 8,500-rpm redline. There’s no wheelspin, thanks to all-wheel drive, just a roar from the aft end and Saturn V thrust. Shifts are violently harsh as the single-clutch gearbox grabs each subsequent gear. Try the same in Strada mode (the softest setting) and the fully automatic shifts are still jerky and unrefined (to lessen the shock, it is best to recalibrate your foot to lift off the accelerator pedal with each shift). After 20 minutes behind the wheel, with the practiced and more refined shift technique, the gear changes are acceptable.

A broad-shouldered beast in the canyons

With limited rear vision and shoulders as wide as Paul Bunyan, the Aventador S Roadster requires focus while carving Southern California’s tight canyon roads. Turn-in is quick, despite the size, with a standard 4-wheel steering system shrinking the turning radius noticeably. While gobs of power and obscene levels of grip guarantee that the Lamborghini will be faster than most everything else on public roads – assuming the driver can keep the outsides of the fat tires safely between the painted lines on the road – the Italian feels confined until the pavement straightens a bit and the Lamborghini can stretch its legs.

Once the road opens and we can shift into the taller gears, the Lamborghini reaffirms itself as an absolute barbarian. It undertakes a take-no-prisoners approach, choosing aggression over finesse. The topless driving experience is breathtaking and completely absorbing – the amalgamation of ferocious sounds of the V12’s tailpipes echoing off the canyon walls and the high level of concentration required to operate the machine. It’s as exciting as it is exhausting.

Projecting power, affluence and exclusivity

There’s no doubt in our minds that Lamborghini has crafted something wickedly spectacular with its Aventador S Roadster – our pulse is still racing weeks after the drive. Unlike almost every other vehicle we experience, this muscular Italian made us the center of attention by queuing a lengthy list of questions from passers-by who waved, shouted, and took pictures of our smiling faces.

This exotic car effectively projects everything its affluent owners are seeking — by the bucket load. However, obtaining the ability to outrun everyone in your line of sight comes at a cost. The base price of the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster is a lofty $460,247. Instant celebrity status, rapid heartrates, and ear-to-ear grins understandably come at a cost.

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