×

This is what happens when Lamborghini takes its most expensive model to a new extreme

What does the "S" in the new Lamborghini Aventador S stand for?

Special? Super? Spine-tingling?

I propose another descriptor: sick.

The Lamborghini Aventador was already one of the most stunning, bold and powerful supercars on the planet. But with the new S version, Lamborghini has taken its most expensive, flagship model to a new extreme. After driving it for two days, only one word came to mind. Sick. In a good way.

Robert Frank test drives the Lamborghini Aventador S.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Robert Frank test drives the Lamborghini Aventador S.

The technical improvements are easy to list. Lamborghini boosted the power of its V-12 from 700 horsepower to 740. The S can do 0 to 62 mph in under 2.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 218 mph.

Lamborghini Aventador S V-12 engine.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Lamborghini Aventador S V-12 engine.

Along with the four-wheel drive of the Aventador, the S version has all-wheel steering, with the rear-wheels turning as well as the front. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction as the front for a shorter wheel-base feel. And at higher speeds, they turn in the same direction to improve performance.

Lambo has also improved the suspension, the transmission and tires. It also added bigger air ducts, front splitters and revised taillights, making the S version even more menacing and Transformer-like than the original.

Lamborghini Aventador S rear tail.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Lamborghini Aventador S rear tail.

Lambo has also added a new drive setting called EGO. It's not a reference to the self-importance of the owner, but to a drive-mode that allows you to tailor the steering, suspension and transmission to your own preferences. The car also has the usual Strada, Sport and Corsa settings for those who require less of an ego boost.

Lamborghini said the overall goal of the S was to improve the Aventador's driving dynamics and "elevate the concept of super sports-cars to a new level."

Lamborghini Aventador S.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Lamborghini Aventador S.

All of those numbers and specs mean nothing however, once you flip the little red lid on the center console and press start. The engine roars to life with a combination of rumbles, whines, roars and huffs that sound like a pack of lions taking down a bull. And once you click the paddle-shifter into first, the real fun begins.

Lamborghini Aventador S middle console.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Lamborghini Aventador S middle console.

At low speeds, the Aventador S is a finicky ride. It's tight, a little cumbersome and ultrasensitive to every nick and pebble on the road. When set on automatic, the shifting can surprise you with occasional lags and lurches.

Lamborghini Aventador S interior view.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Lamborghini Aventador S interior view.

But once you get some open road and punch the accelerator, its racetrack pedigree comes out to play. The car literally feels like it gets smaller, more nimble and more a perfect extension of your every thought and desire. This car was made to go fast — very fast.

Lamborghini Aventador S.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Lamborghini Aventador S.

With all the downforce that Lambo has added to the S version, the car takes high-speed turns with enough force to get your adrenaline surging but with enough confidence and control to still feel safe. Accelerating off a red light has never felt or sounded better — especially when you roll down the car's windows to get the full effect. With an engine sound like that, and its upgraded exhaust system design to improve engine sound and resonance, I had little desire to test the car's audiophile-quality music system.

And driving an Aventador always attracts attention. Between its space-age edges and angles, and its thundering, naturally aspirated V-12, the Aventador S is the ultimate road theater. Even if you're not in EGO mode, this car will inflate any owner's public profile.

Lamborghini Aventador S scissor doors.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Lamborghini Aventador S scissor doors.

Of course, the S could also stand for super-expensive. The starting price is $417,000. But the model I drove, with loads of carbon fiber, including in the engine bay, was $522,000.

A sick amount of money? Sure. But it may be a perfectly fair price for such a sick — and sensational — experience.

Robert Frank test drives the Lamborghini Aventador S.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Robert Frank test drives the Lamborghini Aventador S.