Gallardo Spyder in the UK? Does that mean leaky roof and just too damn unwieldy for our streets...
You're way off target. A lot of cars simply don't translate to the UK. You drive them on (smooth, sunny) foreign roads and they make perfect sense, only to fail spectacularly when they arrive on our not so sunny and not very smooth shores. So it's a pleasant surprise that the Gallardo Spyder - £131,000, 520bhp and 197mph - works so brilliantly in the UK.
For a start the new roof is a work of art. To raise it, you press a button beside the gearknob and it sounds like a stairlift has sprung to life behind you. The entire rear deck lifts up to allow a brief glimpse of the engine, as the roof is unfurled from a tiny cubby behind the seats. It then folds down and clicks perfectly in place to create a solid (and watertight) seal with the windows. The movement takes a shade over 20sec which should just beat the traffic lights and save you from a soaking. With the roof up there's substantially more noise than in the coupe, but that's only to be expected. It may be snug, but the Spyder is by no means uncomfortable. The cabin borrows from the flagship SE version of the Gallardo, which means bright colours and carbon fibre trim. The major controls have been pinched from the Audi A8 which means they all work and the driving position (behind a brilliant suede wheel) is spot on. So it's comfy, leak-proof and semi-practical.
Okay, but that's of little use if you're going to get stuck every time you enter an NCP…
It may have a mighty presence but the Gallardo is 169mm shorter than a Ford Mondeo and only 100mm wider, so it's easy to weave down our narrow roads. Parking is another matter. That wedge profile looks incredibly sexy but makes reversing an almost spiritual experience. The optional parking sensors and rear view camera are essential to avoid a call to the body shop after every spot of parallel parking.
Come on, what's it like to drive?
Lamborghini has stengthened the Gallardo's spaceframe chassis around the windscreen pillars and rear bulkhead to boost ridgidity. As a result the Gallardo feels very stiff on all but the bumpiest roads, when the body starts flexing a little. It's an impressive feat of engineering, especially when you bear in mind the amount of power (520bhp and 376lb ft of torque) is being channelled through the chassis. The underpinnings are from the Gallardo SE. This means the Spyder benefits from sharper steering, revised damping, an extra 27bhp over the 'standard' Gallardo and revised gear ratios to sharpen performance. The result is an immensely quick and capable supercar that's easy to exploit on UK roads. The damping can be caught out over a series of bumps but generally it keeps the body firmly planted to the tarmac. The engine is epic, not just in its linear, relentless power delivery but in its soundtrack. When the butterfly opens in the exhaust nothing, absolutely nothing, comes close to the ferocity of its noise. It's shrill, angry and just a little bit scary. The weak link is the steering. It stops the Gallardo from really coming alive, due to the lack of feel. It doesn't meet the same high standards set by the Gallardo's chassis and engine.
The manual gearbox looks and feels the business but is a little cumbersome for quick changes. CAR Online recommends opting for the E-Gear semi-automatic gearbox over the manual. It's lightning quick and easy to use and allows you to devote your full attention to the rapidly approaching scenery.
The Gallardo Spyder is not just one of the best looking cars in the UK, it's one of the most beautiful on this planet. Very few cars can match its enormous presence, or the desirable mix of German engineering and Italian style. And its soul – that howling, urgent V10 – is enough to make any man weak at the knees. The Gallardo Spyder is sensational.