LAMBORGHINI LP560-4 SPYDER
Alisdair Suttie gets to grips with Lambo's latest chop-top
Calling a Lamborghini Ďoutrageousí is something of a tautology. The Italian firm has made a habit of outdoing its rivals to the point where weíd be disappointed if they did anything as mundane as build a merely brilliant supercar.
The Spyder has the same jutting front air scoops and LED daytime running lights as the Coupe, as well as the Y-form rear lights and chromed quad exhaust pipes. However, the Spyder has a raised rear deck to allow the fabric roof to scissor underneath it to leave a clean, uncluttered side profile. That profile is even more aggressive then the Coupe thanks to the higher rear deck giving the Spyder a more wedge-like stance.
By increasing capacity to 5.2-litres from 5.0, Lamborghini has freed up 552bhp for the LP version of the Gallardo. Thatís 32bhp up on the previous Spyder and it shows with 0-62mph dropping to 4.0 seconds and top speed just creeping over the magic double ton to register 201mph flat out. These figures are a shade slower than the LP560-4 Coupeís 3.8 second 0-62mph time and 202mph top speed, which is down to the Spyder pushing down on the scales with an extra 140kg over the Coupeís 1410kg. However, to quibble about the small weight gain or the fractionally tardier acceleration and top speed would be churlish and to split them in the real world would be nigh on impossible.
Yes, this Lamborghini will trot through town with well mannered ease, but press the throttle hard to get the engine past 3500rpm and you open up a whole new world of aural sensations. The V10 takes on a much harder, louder yowl that sounds like it has more in common with offshore power boats than any road-going machine. Stretch the engine to its 8000rpm limit and the noise just keeps getting better before barking again as the next gear up is selected.
Reversing the Spyder is not for the faint of heart as the raised rear deck makes vision to the back almost negligible. However, for £1565 you can add a reversing camera that is a necessity. While weíre talking specs, most Gallardo buyers will opt for satellite navigation too, which comes in at £1580 and is the same oh-so simple to use system as found in current Audis.
Three buttons among the Gallardoís controls are worthy of a separate mention. These are the Sport, Corse and Auto buttons. The last does exactly what it says and takes car of gearshift duty when the driver is feeling lazy. The other two are more interesting as the Sport button raises the point at which the traction control comes into play, giving the driver greater room to play with in corners. As for the Corse button, itís best left for track driving as it disarms the ESP and bangs home the gearshifts with considerable force to make this mode uncomfortable for most road driving.
The LP560-4 Spyder is a step on from its predecessor in the way it handles. Thereís the same flex-free body construction, but the LP feels even more supple and resistant to poor road surfaces, yet it turns into corners with a sharper bite. Thereís also a small but noticeable gain in steering feel.
The extra weight of the Spyder compared to the Coupe (1550kg versus 1410kg) is not an issue on the road and, if anything, serves to improve the ride quality of the open-top car over its closed sister. Those extra kilos also go unnoticed when it comes to acceleration. As mentioned above, there very little between the Spyder and Coupeís performance, but on real roads rather than spec sheets, the convertible delivers the goods in a way only a Lamborghini can. Put the speed, power and noise together, along with the wind rushing over your head, and you have everything a Lamborghini should be. That the Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder looks so spectacular is almost just a bonus, but itís one passers-by seem to appreciate given the response to our test car.
So, a practical Lamborghini as well as one that fulfils its brief of howling at the moon? Definitely, and thereís the added bonus that the LP560-4 is not only faster and more powerful than the car it replaces, itís cleaner and more frugal too. The LP turns in a combined economy of 20.0mpg, though most owners will see closer to mid-teens if they enjoy using their carís potential. Emissions of 330g/km for the Spyder with manual gearbox (351g/km for cars with the E-Gear transmission) may not be enough to put the Spyder into anything other than the highest road tax band, but by dropping emissions from the previous modelís 400g/km Lamborghini† shows it is possible to be mad and sensible at the same time.