Lamborghini LP560-4 Spyder

Calling a Lamborghini ‘outrageous’ is something of a tautology. The Italian firm has made a habit of outdoing its rivals to the point where we’d be disappointed if they did anything as mundane as build a merely brilliant supercar.

This was the danger with the Gallardo, which has brought Lamborghini ownership to a far wider demographic. It seemed suitably jaw-wrenching when it first arrived, but it was almost beginning to look a tad, well, normal next to some of the competition. You could even buy German estate cars with as much or more power. So, Lamborghini upped the ante with the LP560-4 model, which employs Reventon-esque styling cues to give the previous Gallardo’s delicate looks a welcome shot of pitbull attitude. For those who really want the full Lamborghini madness we know and love, they’ve just launched the Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder and that’s what we’re driving here.

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.

The roof itself comes in black, grey blue or beige – about the only time you’ll read the word beige in association with a Lamborghini. It drops at the touch of a button and takes around 20 seconds to go from full up to full down, or vice versa. A neat touch is the glass rear window which doubles as a wind break when the roof is lowered. This window can also be dropped, even when the roof is raised so you can better hear the 5.2-litre V10 engine snuggled just inches from the driver’s left shoulder.

By increasing capacity to 5.2-litres from 5.0, Lamborghini has freed up 552bhp for the LP version of the Gallardo. That’s 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 Coupe’s 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 Coupe’s 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.

Even with its marginally slower performance, the LP560-4 Spyder pulls off the neat trick of feeling faster than the Coupe as it’s less insulated from the experience. The V10 engine dominates the whole experience of the LP560-4 from the moment you turn the ignition key. On start up, there’s a cough and hack as it seeks out its idling speed that would put any 40-a-day smoker to shame. The engine then settles to a resolute tickover that is unaffected by heat or sticky traffic conditions. Be in no doubt, the Gallardo is as easy to live with as any supercar, but the real pleasure lies away from the mundane.

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.

The Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder we tested came with Lamborghini’s £6117 six-speed E-Gear sequential manual gearbox. It may not be as clever-clever or quite as quick as some rivals’ paddle shift gearboxes, but the Lambo’s has been refined into a very decent ’box. The gearbox reacts quickly to the driver’s inputs on the steering column-mounted paddles, the shifts go through smoothly and it’s even straightforward to manoeuvre the Gallardo at parking speeds without giving the clutch a hard time.

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 we’re 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.

The sat nav system nestles in amongst plenty of other Audi-sourced buttons and dials, which is no bad thing. It may be showing its age a little in the style of its interior, but there’s no faulting how straightforward and undemanding the Gallardo’s controls are to fathom. Our only complaint here is taller drivers will find legroom at a premium in the LP560-4 Spyder. Even medium height drivers find the seat back pressed up against the rear bulkhead, which induces an irritating squeak where leather touches leather. However, the seats are comfortable, easily adjusted by electric controls and have been designed for people from the real world rather than some supercar makers’ ideas of the perfect customer with snake hips. The driving position is also very good, helped by a steering wheel with plenty of reach and rake adjustment.

Three buttons among the Gallardo’s 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, it’s 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.

Even with the ESP switched off, the Gallardo still has standard four-wheel drive, with 30% sent to the front and the rest channelled through the rear wheels. During our time with the LP560-4 Spyder, the car never felt anything less than wholly confident, though changing gear mid-corner can induce a small squirm from the front wheels.

The LP560-4 Spyder is a step on from its predecessor in the way it handles. There’s 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. There’s 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 Coupe’s 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 it’s one passers-by seem to appreciate given the response to our test car.

If you come over all shy while driving the Spyder, raising the roof is easy and you can still see out of the windscreen and side windows without having to stoop. As for seeing much in the rear view mirror, forget it.

So, a practical Lamborghini as well as one that fulfils its brief of howling at the moon? Definitely, and there’s the added bonus that the LP560-4 is not only faster and more powerful than the car it replaces, it’s 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 car’s 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 model’s 400g/km Lamborghini  shows it is possible to be mad and sensible at the same time.

That sums up the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder. It’s not a tautology, but a conundrum in the way it blends massive performance with easy use, staggering looks with surprising practicality, and huge cost with a sense that it’s worth every last penny. It may be the Italian firm’s most honed car in years, but the LP560-4 Spyder is still every bit a Lamborghini.

Comments (25) Join the discussion on the forum

  • mrclav 26 May 2009

    Now that's what I'm talking about! Nice review too...

  • Dagnut 26 May 2009

    Shame about the wheels..good article cheers.

  • SonnyM 26 May 2009

    Stunning car!

    Did the reviewer actually drive the car? Because the review seems a little emotionless and clinical...

  • MICK E90 M3 26 May 2009


  • Warick Hunt 26 May 2009

    Impressive car, I could be tempted, but hells bells not in white!!!

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