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Thursday 4th September 2008


LAMBORGHINI LP640 ROADSTER

There was only one way to make the Lamborghini LP640 even madder - chop the roof off. Ollie Stallwood drives the Roadster


It’s been raining for a few days now, I’m cold and where there isn’t standing water the road has a thin layer of grease on top of it. So what is possibly the last car that you should be climbing in to? A Lamborghini LP640 Roadster perhaps? Got to be pretty close.


So here I am about to drive the Lamborghini LP640 Roadster and I am seriously thinking about reconsidering the decision. But for the good of PH I decide to strap myself in, zip up my jacket and hope that if I can reach a certain speed the rain will no longer fall in my face.

I’ve driven the coupe LP640 and it is just about as much drama as you could want from a car - but the Roadster takes it to another level. It is around 70mm lower and has a wraparound windscreen similar to the visor on a motorbike helmet. It is simply stunning - shocking even - in the flesh, especially in pearlescent white.


The 631bhp, 6.5-litre V12 takes a bit of coaxing into life but it settles on an angry thrum. Pull the right-hand e-gear paddle shift and it slots, no clunks, into gear. There is no Ferrari slickness about all this; the e-gear rides the clutch alarmingly and each time you pull a lever it is as if you’ve just set in motion a giant game of mechanical Mousetrap. There are various thunks and thuds as the car selects its next ratio but the whole thing adds to pantomime that is driving a car like this.

Strangely with the roof removed everything seems easier, less claustrophobic and more airy, than the coupe. It’s a unique experience driving a monster-powered car that has been chopped to the point of being a speedster. Koenigsegg makes its CCX with a removable lid and Bugatti has just unveiled its Grand Sport, so clearly there are enough people who want their toupee ripped off at 200mph.


Whereas in a lot of supercars these days you quickly become acquainted and more confident, the car helping you each step of the way, the LP640 feels like a snarling behemoth. Squeeze the accelerator and it becomes clear what difference, say, an extra four cylinders can have. For a start this is one of the richest engine sounds available in a road car. It’s no doubt a mechanical sound but it’s melodic, going from a deep clatter to a thick, hard-edged shriek.

The power that accompanies it is savage, effortlessly forcing the car forwards. There’s no need to wait for frivolities like revs, the V12 feels unstoppable at any point. Pressing down the right pedal is utterly, utterly addictive.  Peak power comes at 8,000rpm so it is worth holding your foot down as long as possible, but to do this in the wet takes a lot of nerve. But big and powerful as it may be the LP640 refuses to squirm around under power, aided of course by four-wheel drive, and it just sticks to its line.


The steering is heavy but direct and the car turns in crisply, with bags of feedback being channelled through the suede-rimmed wheel, giving you an intimate idea of what the front wheels are doing. Today is not a day to be pushing a V12 Lamborghini to the limit but even on slippery tarmac grip is impressive. Although the car will no doubt bite you as quick as you can take your eye off the ball, as long as you treat it with respect too much speed will result in gentle understeer, and it is nowhere near as edgy as you would expect.

The grey clouds overhead are turning darker and the rain is getting heavier. It’s time to take the Lambo back but on the way I notice that it is all rather nicely made inside and with the roof off there is a little more visibility. I thought driving this car would be terrifying but it’s not. Losing the roof makes it even more fun - in the sort of manic, crazed grin kind of way - but you can only love this car.


In the end the temporary roof you get is probably not worth bothering with, just drive it around like this all day. So should you go for the Coupe or the Roadster? I reckon if you’re mad enough to buy a 6.5-litre Lamborghini V12 you shouldn't be too worried about a spot of rain.

 

Many thanks to Club Velocitá (www.clubvelocita.com/ 01256 333 822) for lending us the LP640.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Amy Cole (www.ac-photography.net)





Engine: V12, 6496cc, 48v

Max power: 631bhp @ 8000rpm

Max torque: 487lb ft @ 6000rpm

0 - 60mph: 3.4sec (claimed)

Top Speed: 210mph (claimed)

Price: £212,500

On Sale: Now

Author: Oli S