Car of the Year 2012: Winner Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4

  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
    Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
    Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
    The center console includes an engine-start button. Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
    The multimedia system features a seven-inch TFT display screen. Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
    The Aventador sports shiny black alloy rims and a choice of yellow (shown), orange, or gray brake calipers. Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/
  • Robert Ross, Paul Dean and Paul Meyers

That the most outrageous Lamborghini ever made was chosen Car of the Year by a vote of nearly two to one is remarkable. Granted, the Aventador LP 700-4 is a stellar achievement—as a design exercise and as a series-production reality. Yet it is difficult to imagine most of the event’s judges actually driving it. But drive they did, and each returned from his or her ride bearing a broad smile and a healthy respect for the low-slung, high-performance monster.In past Car of the Year contests, vehicles as radical as Lamborghini’s flying wedge have not garnered mass appeal among our judges; most have found such machines intimidating to operate and ergonomically challenging. Yet almost all of the nearly 100 drivers—our largest gathering ever—were impressed by the relative ease with which the big brute can be cajoled from a trot to a full-snort stampede. Doubtless, the seamless 7-speed automated manual gearbox shortened everyone’s learning curve and made memories of the Murciélago’s recalcitrant stick shift disappear as quickly as anything in the Aventador’s rearview mirror. —Robert Ross

Our judges’ nearly unanimous passion for the Aventador was ignited not by its raw power or its Darth Vader architecture. Instead, the adjudicators fell hard for its sophistication, which includes a cabin so comfortable it borders on relaxing and performance-related technologies that set new standards of civility and refinement for reaching speeds as fast as 217 mph.

Like previous Cars of the Year, the Aventador is a triumphant milestone that meets its design purpose and fulfills a concept that others (including seven different owners for Lamborghini since 1963) have been unable to realize. So fire up this magnificent V-12 machine, short-shift the first three gears to redline, stomp on the gas pedal, and relish the ballistics.

One of our judges, Bordeaux winemaker Pierre Seillan, was not struck entirely speechless by the excitement of driving the Lamborghini. But he was shocked into reverting to his mother tongue: "Fantastique, extraordinaire, incroyable." —Paul Dean

The Aventador is unquestionably one of the year’s most intimidating automotive specimens. With scoops, edges, and scissor-style doors, the car screams velocità when sitting still, before it delivers a 700 hp kick of endorphin-producing force from an all-new V-12 engine. But as our judges discovered, the Aventador is a more versatile vehicle than its jet-fighter shape suggests—and more versatile than its Lamborghini predecessors, the Countach, Diablo, and Murciélago. The Aventador gallops and surges across pavement where the others groped and lurched, it sweeps through corners instead of shuddering, and it breathes fire instead of spitting venom.

These revelations should come as no surprise, because the Aventador’s smaller sibling, the Gallardo LP 560-4, took our contest’s top honors just three years ago. —Paul Meyers

SPECIFICATIONS  Configuration Mid-engine, all-wheel-drive sports car Engine 6.5-liter V-12 Transmission 7-speed automated manual  Power 700 hp at 8,250 rpm Torque 509 ft lbs at 5,500 rpm Curb weight 3,472 pounds Zero to 60 mph 2.9 seconds  Top speed 217 mph Base price $387,000 Lamborghini,

From Around the Web...
The 2015 McLaren P1 GTR being offered at the RM Sotheby's Villa Erba sale.
A McLaren P1 GTR, a Ferrari LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 Spyder to be offered at Villa Erba sale…
The Fittipaldi EF7 VGT by Pininfarina
The coachbuilder teamed with renowned racer Emerson Fittipaldi to create the carbon-fiber...
Jaguar and Bentley are among the marques charging ahead on all-electric cars and concepts…
The Callaway Corvette Aerowagen Shooting Brake
The performance package gives the car 757 hp and a rear hatch…
The Rickman Revival Velocette
The three-day celebration of beautiful bikes will also feature a Wall of Death stunt show…
The Audi R8 LMS GT4
Based off the R8 Coupe, the car will be eligible to compete in motorsports’ GT4 category worldwide…
The Mercedes-AMG S63
The full-size flagship gets a redesigned interior, new engine, and improved autonomous technology...
The "Inspired by Monte Carlo" Mini Remastered by David Brown Automotive.
The customizable model is constructed by hand and pairs vintage styling with high-tech touches…
Bentley’s Racing Program Takes to the GT3 Track
The marque is on a roll after recently racing at the Pirelli World Challenge in Long Beach, Calif…
Zelectric's reimagined Porsche 911S Targa with an electric power train.
The electrified convertible can cover zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds as it bolts to 150 mph…