Nothing builds self-confidence better or faster than a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. Need an ego boost? Get behind the wheel of this insanely provocative car. Makes you feel like a million bucks. Better, it makes you feel alive. Your heart rate jumps a notch or two just climbing behind the controls. Crank the engine and mash the throttle and for a shockwave of adrenaline. Pass 4000 revs and the V10's exhaust bypass valve opens, igniting a thunderous roar. Even sitting idle, the Spyder's sharply creased angles inspire emotion. That's part of its magic, which along with the Coupe, make the Gallardo Lamborghini's best selling model ever.
Knowing European contributor Alistair Weaver would be frolicking around in a Spyder, on a remote Danish outpost, of all places (see page 52), we felt it only appropriate to get a little seat time in ourselves. Can't allow our contributors to have all the fun. And fun is exactly what you can expect. Perhaps a little too much, as the car tempts you to shirk responsibility, at home or work. How do you leave such a stellar car parked all day at the office or for the rest of the evening at home? You don't. This is your ticket to the time of your life, or a night in the doghouse. Or both.
As with the Coupe, the Spyder is built on the same aluminum spaceframe and powered by a 520-bhp, 5.0-liter V10, with permanent all-wheel-drive. Though heavier by roughly 250 pounds due to structural reinforcements, the Spyder also matches the Coupe's zero to 60 mph sprint at just a hair over four seconds. This car is equipped with an improved version of Lamborghini's E-gear, which posts the best acceleration with the stability system (ESP) disabled and the transmission in Sport mode.
With a heavy right foot, the E-gear drops the clutch as the engine revs toward 8000 rpm unleashing 376 lb-ft of head-jarring torque; E-gear offers matching revs on downshifts and lightning-fast (0.12 second) gear swaps. In addition to an automatic mode, essential for city traffic, I like the feel and placement of the paddles, which also provide optimum control of the wheel while blipping through the car's six forward gears-- a rather quick task considering the V10's narrow torque band. Keep your foot down and a sequence of rapid gearchanges lead to triple-digit speeds in under 10 seconds.
Stopping power is equally impressive, with Brembo eight-pots and massive 14.3-inch vented rotors. From 60 mph, the car comes to a screeching halt in only 104 feet.
The extra reinforcements have paid dividends in platform rigidity. Taking the car on some favorite twisties confirms this assertion with absolute composure and control. Ditto for high-speed stability. And for those who like to occasionally steer with the pedal, you can do that too, thanks to the car's slight rear-drive bias. Improved steering response is also now more in line with the Ferrari F430.
The cabin is well designed and well appointed, with supple leather upholstery and lots of carbon fiber. An Audi-derived premium sound and nav system brings more refinement.
The cab-forward design places you up front and low. As a result, legroom is minimal. But six-footers can still come to party. Naturally, I spend the majority of the time with the top down, even as the evening temperatures dip. Hey, it's California. The roof mechanism is simple to operate: two buttons on the centre of the dashboard. And the whole operation takes just over 20 seconds.
The Gallardo Spyder is perhaps the world's best-packaged exotic drop-top. If you feel you still need a little extra room, you might consider the Murcilago Roadster, which recently made its world debut at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show. Look for a full report next month.
2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
Longitudinal mid-engine,all-wheel drive
5.0-liter V10, dohc,four valves per cylinder
Peak Power: 520 bhp @ 8000 rpm
Peak Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.3 sec.
Top Speed: 193 mph
Fuel Economy: 11 city/18 hwy
Price as tested: $216,000