Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante Review
You think that’s a long name, be grateful they didn’t add Superleggera – because this is convertible version
By Imthishan Giado
“Don’t ever lean your head back.” That’s the advice I received before driving the gobsmacking Lamborghini Performante, a car that’s physical proof that ultimate pleasure costs a certain degree of pain. Why can’t you lean your head back?
Well, it’s because when the transmission of this, Italy’s most barmy stripped out race car, changes gears in full-on, take-no-prisoners, no-holds-barred Corsa mode, it does so with enough force to whack the headrest right back into your noggin to give you a concussion. Changing gears requires a very serious effort to nod in time with changes, to make sure you don’t get a headache.
Such efforts are absolutely necessary for a car that provides so little, that is so raw in a world where manufacturers are making every effort to make motoring simpler and more comfortable. Don’t be mistaken; around town, the Gallardo is a pussycat to drive, but this superlight Performante version is meant to remind you that when things get serious, the cars from Sant Agata are absolutely the baddest and fastest on the block.
Under the hood, the Performante’s direct-injected 5.2-litre V10 engine sports a bonkers 562bhp, 10 more than the regular coupe. Raw power is not what this car is about; instead, radical lightening surgery shaves every inch of excess weight, giving it all the punch of a flyweight boxer with a sore head.
The diffuser, door mirrors, rear spoiler, sills, underbody are all substituted for super-light, super-strong carbonfibre items. Things that are not made from pricey carbonfibre but lightweight carbon –include the engine cover, the shells for the seats and the door cards and everything. This means the Performante is 65kg lighter than the regular Spyder, which is not a particularly heavy car to begin with.
Why not buy the regular Gallardo Spyder?
Some of you may wonder, why not buy a regular Gallardo LP-560 Spyder? You wouldn’t, because the Perfomante is the ultimate loud, flamboyant rockstar version of a car that wasn’t exactly a wallflower to begin with. My favourite exterior touch is the Performante script on the front valance and along the side sills – it’s such a small, delicate touch, but indicative of the Italian attitude to style – invisible to the uninitiated, but for a connoisseur, impossible to ignore.
You’ll need to be agile to get in and slide into the hard, hard carbon buckets. Inside it’s the same old Gallardo interior, with a centre console fully of plainly-obvious Audi bits such as the air conditioning unit and the navigation system. Super-swish alcantara lines everything from the dash to the steering wheel, but be careful not to sweat, as it’ll be absorbed into the surface and held onto for posterity.
Twist the plain key, and the starter spins with a high-pitched motorcycle whine, before the mighty V10 erupts to life with a furious blat from the tailpipes, settling down to a resolutely unhappy idle. Give the throttle a little blip and you’ll be glad, because the initial bellow giving way to a metallic howl that is not of this earth, an absolute roar of anger.
Sounds awesome – unsurprisingly
It hardly comes as a surprise that a Lamborghini sounds good when you give it the beans. What is absolutely astonishing is the way this car drives. The Performante will scream all the way to 320kph, and when you drive into the corners, you’ll really open up a new box of tricks.
The steering is initially quite heavy, but wrestling with it is a worthy tradeoff for high speed stability through the bends. As always in a four-wheel drive car, don’t bother braking in the twisties, but simply power through the initial understeer and trust that the power will find its way to the right wheel. You’ll find the Gallardo as easy to drive very quickly as that other 4WD colossus, the Nissan GT-R, which sports a equally benign chassis and superhuman abilities to both build and slash speed.
The difference is what happens over the limit; in the GT-R, you’re travelling so quickly that even its super-Pentium brain can’t compute an afterlife discount fast enough. But in the Performante, that mid-engine balance comes into play and the simple traction and stability control systems whip you back into line with almost breathtaking elegance.
You could say the Performante is a pointless extravagance. You could say the regular Gallardo is quite quick enough for any sane person. You could say that a Ferrari is cheaper, and better looking. You could say that there are too many Audi bits for a car that costs so very much. But then you drive it, and you understand everything about why the cars like the Performante exist – to remind us that machines can have a soul.
How much? $285,300
Engine: 5204cc, 10cyl, 562BHP @ 8000, 398lb ft @ 6500
Fuel Economy: 13.6 – l/100km
Performance: 3.9 sec 0-100kph , 323kph
How heavy? 1485kg