Price: $542,500 to $577,300
Sunny, 25 degrees Celsius and next to no wind, the only thing missing is the fastest convertible Lamborghini currently on sale, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante.
Built as the rigid convertible version of the LP 570-4 Superleggera, the soft-top LP 570-4 Spyder Performante is Lamborghini’s pinnacle of open-air speed, agility and track prowess.
The Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante boasts a 65kg weight saving over its non-lightweight Gallardo sibling. Forty per cent of the weight saving comes courtesy of carbonfibre exterior and interior panels, not to mention the aluminium body and spaceframe. Even the wheels contribute a 3.3kg weight saving at each corner.
Identifying the Spyder Performante in traffic isn’t hard. The razor-like angles of the front splitter are complemented by ‘Performante’ labelling, while a dual stripe runs from the front to the rear. The dual stripe encases three symbols in the shape of the tail-lights, finished in the colours of the Italian flag.
Under the bonnet, a modest space for a car cover, power outlet and two tissue boxes is more novel than practical.
Inside the cabin, the theme is strictly suede. The soft, slightly furry material lines the dashboard, seats, steering wheel and window lining, offering a unique feel that is only interrupted by carbonfibre door blades and colour-coded seat and dashboard stitching.
Traditionally, the Superleggera and Spyder Performante don’t come with a radio, CD player or satellite navigation; instead the gap is filled with a carbonfibre backing and Lamborghini emblem. Luckily, the modern luxuries of life can be optioned if required, but expect to fork out around $7000 for satellite navigation and reversing camera.
The seats feature only two adjustments – forwards and backwards. The seats, though, mould perfectly around the body, keeping the driver and passenger steady while tackling corners at physics-defying pace. The advantage of suede is its cool nature in the summer sun.
Despite the low-slung roof, there’s plenty of head room with the roof up. There are a few hiding places to store sunglasses and knick-knacks, but like most supercars, space is a precious commodity inside the cabin.
Suitably matching the age of Lamborghini’s six-speed automated manual E-Gear transmission, the car is simply started with a key. There’s also no gear selector as such, with the reverse button nestled behind the steering wheel. Drive is selected using static paddle shifters.
Lamborghini’s 5.2-litre V10 has a distinctive sound that never gets old. Even at idle, the V10 sounds meaty and ready for action. The throaty rumble comes out of four exhaust pipes fitted with a bi-modal exhaust system.
Cracking out an impressive 419kW of power and 540Nm of torque, the convertible 5.2-litre V10 raging bull shoots from 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds, or an even more rapid 3.4 seconds for the hard-top Superleggera. A six-speed manual gearbox is available as a no-cost option.
The folding canvas roof disappears within 20 seconds but can only be operated while stationary. The folding mechanism also prevents the engine cover from being opened, meaning the beautiful V10 engine can only be viewed while the roof is in motion.
In full automatic mode, it takes time to become familiar with the transmission’s shift patterns. If you don’t lift the throttle just before an up-shift, there is a clunky lag while the transmission disengages the gear and selects the next gear. Once mastered, the shifts are fairly seamless and natural.
Parking is a breeze with a reversing camera and good visibility through all four corners. Easy parking is complemented by a front lifting mechanism that increases the vehicle’s ride height to overcome dips and steep driveways – which are a plague on the streets of Los Angeles where we went to test the car.
In traffic, the Spyder Performante is easy to place and copes well with stop-start conditions. The air-conditioner does a great job of cooling the cabin, even with the roof off.
With peak hour traffic left in the dust, an epic road nestled in the foothills of the Glendora mountain range near LA was the setting to stretch the Lamborghini’s legs.
E-Gear is available with three modes – Auto, Sport and Corsa (the latter Italian for race). Corsa mode is home to E-Gear’s fastest shift pattern and most relaxed stability control setting.
With the roof retracted and windows down, it’s difficult not to laugh like a possessed mental patient every time the rev needle approaches the V10’s sonorous 8500rpm redline. Deafening blips during downshifts and viscously brutal upshifts only add to the almost theatrical experience.
Measuring 365mm up front and 356mm at the rear, the eight-piston front and six-piston rear callipers wrap around aluminium rotors and are standard equipment. Those after a fade-resistant affair can spend just over $40,000 optioning their Spyder Performante with carbon ceramic brakes, fitted to our test car, that sport six-piston callipers and 380mm cross-drilled rotors up front.
Everything about the Spyder Performante feels right through corners. The razor sharp steering communicates the road and tyre position with fluent accuracy, while the optional carbon ceramic stoppers bite with continuous and reassuring pressure, even when tortured to their limits.
The stiff chassis remains composed through corners, but tends to bounce around when presented with mid-corner bumps and deviations. Otherwise, suspension firmness is spot on the money for fast, corner-laden driving.
Despite sporting 235mm-wide front tyres, 295mm-wide rear tyres and all-wheel drive, the rear end still manages to squirm when the throttle is prodded on the exit of a corner. The lucent feel through the steering wheel and chassis make it easy and enjoyable to manage.
In normal circumstances, the all-wheel-drive system shuffles torque between the front and rear axles at a ratio of 30:70 respectively.
Driving the Spyder Performante is an entirely emotional experience. There’s an open feel of communication between car and driver, with the mood heightened during each crackle and pop of the exhaust.
It’s attention seeking, raw, brutal and utterly gorgeous, though the head-turning looks and head-exposing thrills don’t come cheap at $577,300.