When: 22 February 2011
Where: Sant'Agata, Italy
What: Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante
Occasion: International first drive
Overall rating: 5/5
It was only a matter of time before Lamborghini made an open-top version of the sensational Gallardo Superleggera. That's essentially what the Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante is: less weight, more power, no roof. We've driven it.
Pricing: Estimated at €350,000 in Ireland
Engine: 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 petrol
Transmission: Six-speed 'e-gear' automated manual, four-wheel drive
Body style: Two-door roadster with fabric roof
Rivals: Audi R8 V10 Spyder, Ferrari California, Maserati GranCabrio Sport
Tax Band: G
Top speed: 324km/h (201mph)
0-100km/h: 3.9 seconds
Power: 570hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 540Nm at 6,500rpm
Dry weight: 1,485kg
In the Metal:
If you don't want to draw attention to yourself, don't buy a Lamborghini. That's especially true of the Gallardo Spyder Performante model, even in restrained colours. The Spyder's shape is sharpened up with a large rear wing made of carbon fibre and plenty of other obvious carbon bits.
That theme continues inside, which is carbon fibre overload, or heaven - depending on your preferences. The sports seats are stunning and comfortable and though there is some Audi switchgear, it's a special place to be.
Given the sense of occasion that is driving any Lamborghini, it's a pity that the process in the Gallardo starts with turning a standard enough ignition key. That's soon forgotten when the V10 engine behind you roars into life though... It's the heart and soul of this car. Once it's warmed up it's actually relatively quiet when ambling around, but a torrent of melodic noise is only an ankle flex away.
That's backed up by a seamless shove in the back - across the rev range. Well, seamless until you change gear that is. This car is fitted with Lamborghini's six-speed 'e-gear' transmission, which is essentially an automated manual. It comes with several modes, which tie in with control of the Gallardo's ESP too. Changes vary from smooth on part throttle in the normal mode to downright violent when your foot is planted in Corsa mode. That, and the gratuitous throttle blips on down-changes, really adds to the experience.
While the Gallardo drives like a rear-wheel drive car (and indeed allows a good deal of slip at the rear), it does in fact put its power to all four wheels. This makes for sensational ground covering, regardless of the weather.
What you get for your Money:
Despite the focus on low weight, the Performante model still comes with all the equipment you'd want or need, including satnav, dual-zone climate control, etc. Looking at it from an accountant's point of view, it may be difficult to justify the extra this model costs over the regular LP 560-4 Spyder, but it feels tangibly more special. It's the ultimate Gallardo Spyder after all.
All this talk of lightweight isn't just marketing hype. The Performante model weighs a full 65kg less than the LP 560-4 Spyder. That's the weight of a slim passenger right there. Carbon fibre was used for the panel that covers the soft-top and engine, the rear spoiler, sills, diffuser, mirror casings and under-body panelling, as well as on the inside of the car.
We already loved the Superleggera version of the Lamborghini Gallardo, so there's no surprise that we're fans of the Spyder Performante. It retains the coup?'s sense of occasion and competence, but brings the spectacular noise of the engine closer to the driver. Stunning.