Road tests on supercars like Lamborghini’s LP560-4 Spyder are hard to write. Please don’t shed a tear for the jammy road-tester; all I’m saying is that when cars are this seductive they tend to render your objectivity gland inactive. Let’s face it; the revised Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder costs way more than most of us can afford, for some it’s offensively vulgar in these credit-stretched times and for all its talents it simply cannot provide shelter for orphaned panda bears…
But. Just. Look. At. It.
Take a cold bath!
Right. Fighting back the advances of Lamborghini’s newest soft-top sex bomb for a moment I’m ordered to tell you what’s new about the Spyder. Well, lots and not a lot. Lots if you compare it to the outgoing model – increased power (from 513bhp to 552bhp) and torque (376lb ft to 398lb ft) plus a CO2 cut and improved fuel consumption – and not a lot if you compare it to the Coupe (same engine, chassis, gearbox, interior plus a 140kg increase in weight).
And the styling? Like, the Coupe, the Spyder gets the Reventon-inspired front-end and some exquisite ‘Y-form’ LED taillights and running lamps. At the rear, the Spyder also receives the Coupe’s more efficient rear diffuser and chrome tailpipes. The Spyder’s raised shoulders and rear deck (to accommodate the roof) makes rear visibility at parking speeds tricky – however Lamborghini offer a must-have rear parking camera… as a colossal £1565 option. Satellite navigation is also a £1580 option, which seems a little churlish on a £149,500 car.
Viewing the Spyder from the side, the higher shoulders embellish the scalpel-like profile – it looks even dartier than the Coupe.
What about the interior?
With the objectivity gland reactivated, the Audi-sourced cabin is beginning to look dated. Ergonomically the LP560-4 is fine, although taller people will find the legroom cramped. But despite delicious details such as the diamond-quilted seats the LP560-4 badly needs an updated cockpit.
The fully-lined fabric roof, available in black, blue, grey or beige, electronically deploys in 20 seconds. A neat feature is a glass rear screen that can stay in place with the roof down and acts as a wind deflector. There’s no folding hardtop version – which despite some wind-noise from the fabric roof suits us just fine. Increasing the LP560-4’s bulk just wouldn’t do – at 1550kg it’s not exactly skinny as it is.
The engine is the same 5.2-litre V10 screamer from the Coupe (up from 5 litres over the outgoing Spyder), while new direct injection technology results in a CO2 reading of 327g/km. It won’t put a solar umbrella over the icecaps, but it’s a 73g/km improvement over the previous Spyder.
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Yeah, but I bet it’s fast.
Outright performance is in the ‘bejeeeeeeesus’ league. 0-62mph in 4 seconds, 0-124mph in 13.1 seconds and a top speed of 201mph. The stats say the lighter Coupe is a smidge quicker; but immense sensory assault afforded by the open-air experience makes the Spyder feel the faster car on the road. Crucially, in terms of dynamics the Spyder feels no less capable than the Coupe, despite the added weight. The chassis simply does not shimmy around the A-pillars on rough surfaces.
And out on the road every single interior fault or option grumble gets blasted into the open – along with your wig and scarf. This is an almighty driving experience – the Kraken-like sound of that V10, the immediacy and feel from the steering and the viscous acceleration collude to erase all doubts about this car.
The e-gear transmission improves every time we try a new Lamborghini. The Spyder’s automated manual gearbox is smooth in standard setting, urgent in Sport mode and harsh when switched to Corsa (best left for tracks). Clutch take up is progressive and low-speed manoeuvring better than the Coupe we tried recently. Some will prefer the greater interactivity delivered by a manual ‘box, but the e-gear system is a compelling feature especially if you prefer to keep your hands on the wheel when braking, downshifting and cornering…
And what about the cornering?
Like the Coupe – our 2008 PCOTY winner – the Spyder offers not just total handling accuracy and precision it also offers an almost luxuriant approach to driver feedback. The messages from the Lamborghini through your touchpoints with the car are complex but never overwhelming. You feel, in beautiful increments, the chassis getting closer and closer to its limits. Absurdly, for a car with such vast grip potential (4WD with 30:70 split, sticky Pirelli Pzeros, etc) this means you can play all the way up to the limit or back off and enjoy the sensations of man/machine interactivity at more sensible speeds. The point is that the sweetspot occurs long before you start peeling layers off the tyres.
Some cars only entertain when they break traction; the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 entertains the moment you turn the key. In fact, scrub that – the LP 560-4 entertains the moment you look at it. Sure it’s interior is dated and the options are expensive but this is one of the automotive experiences of our times. The only true rival is the Ferrari 16M Scuderia Spider – I sense a battle brewing…
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