First Drive

2018 Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder First Drive Review | Cheating the wind

The ultimate no-compromise supercar from Lamborghini

  • Image Credit: Lamborghini
  • Engine
    5.2L V10
  • Power
    640 HP / 443 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    7-Speed Dual-Clutch
  • 0-60 Time
    3.1 Seconds
  • Top Speed
    202 MPH
  • Drivetrain
  • Engine Placement
  • Seating
  • Base Price
NAPA, Calif. — A long, fast, right-hand sweeper appears a few hundred feet ahead, but I don't tap the brakes. Instead I decide to trust the aerodynamics. And when the Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder slices through corner after corner with zero drama, the smile that naturally occurs when driving something so potent gets incrementally more maniacal.

From behind the wheel, the driver can't see what's happening with the front splitter and rear wing. All the action takes place underneath the wedge-shaped bodywork. Electric actuators open and close air pathways that either push the Performante Spyder into the ground for the best possible cornering performance, or cancel out that drag-inducing downforce so that the car can accelerate as quickly as possible and hit a higher maximum speed.

I have good reason to put faith in Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva, which I'll henceforth and mercifully shorten to its initials ALA — a system we've already experienced on our first and second drives of the Performante Coupe. I'd been given the full rundown on the bits and pieces of forged composite that make it all work, the most impressive of which allow aero vectoring from the wing to apply downforce only to the rear tire that needs it most.

But it wasn't until I was behind the wheel on a particularly twisty ribbon of asphalt outside of Napa, California, that I was able to put ALA to the test. I progressively took corners faster, building up speed and pushing myself harder into the grippy bolsters of the Alcantara seat. The Performante Spyder stayed as flat as the plains of Kansas, and never gave one hint of breaking traction from the front or the rear.

Straight-line acceleration is just as impressive. Yes, at 3.1 seconds, the Spyder is .2 seconds slower to 62 miles per hour than the Performante Coupe. Unless you're racing for pink slips, that's imperceptible and meaningless in the real world. Keep the throttle pinned and you'll hit a top speed of 202 mph, which matches that of the Coupe. What those numbers don't tell you, though, is how it actually feels to lunge forward with all-wheel-drive traction from a dead stop and sense no slowdown in the rate of acceleration until you're too scared to keep your foot planted any longer. I suggest keeping your head pressed firmly against its rest before trying for yourself.

The naturally aspirated V10 engine sitting directly behind the passenger compartment spins out 640 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. It wails at anything over 6,000 rpm, and positively assaults the eardrums at its 8,000-rpm redline. And I mean that in the best way possible — the Italian soundtrack is so appealing that I never thought to test the radio.

I found it best to toggle between Strada (street) and Sport modes on public roads. Strada is the baseline setting, and in this mode, the Performante Spyder is a comparatively docile beast that's tuned for comfort and cruising. Sport mode instantly changes the feel of the Performante, loosening up stability control, uncorking the exhaust, and tightening up the steering. Corsa mode is designed solely for having fun at a race track, and it further loosens up the electronic nannies, locks the transmission into manual mode, and, if properly equipped, stiffens up the suspension and quickens the steering ratio.

Let off the gas in Sport or Corsa modes and you'll be greeted by a shooting gallery's worth of rifle-report backfires. As an added bonus, the high-mount exhaust tips at the back of the car glow a faint red color at dusk during particularly spirited drives. In case you couldn't tell from the pictures, this is not a car for wallflowers. Might as well drop the top, then, to better enjoy the sun, wind and sounds.

Lamborghini added little fins and ducts on the buttresses just aft of the Spyder's passenger compartment in an attempt to reduce buffeting around the cabin. This combines with a rear window that electrically retracts into the bodywork to keep things quiet enough at below-highway speeds that the driver could conceivably have a conversation with the passenger. Or if you don't feel like talking, a downshift of the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission using the left-side paddle serves as an effective mute button for the rest of the world.

You'll be sitting snugly in the Performante Spyder's interior if you're anything over six feet tall. At 6'2" and with the seat at its lowest, I was able to find a comfortable position despite the fact that my hair just poked into the wind with the top down. And with the fabric roof in place, a big bump was enough for me to graze the headliner.

So long as you fit, the Performante Spyder's interior is a pretty nice place to spend a few hours. A digital gauge cluster is controlled by buttons and dials on the center console and offers up every bit of information the driver could want or need. A second smaller screen on the upper part of the console can be changed from a trio of digital gauges to a display showing the current status of the ALA system. Since it's not in the driver's line of sight, this cluster of limited usefulness no matter how it's configured. I kept the aerodynamics screen up anyway, just because it's a cool reminder of the aero technology in action.

It'll cost at least $308,859 to park a Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder in your garage. You could compare that price with other supercars — the similarly quick Ferrari 488 Spider starts about $30,000 lower, but can't match the Performante Spyder's 6:52.01 lap time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife — but there seems little point in that, with one significant exception.

The Lamborghini Aventador is the brand's flagship model, complete with a hulking V12 engine and scissor doors. But the cheapest Aventador is nearly $100,000 more expensive than the Performante Spyder, and it'll be chasing its little brother's taillights around a race track. So much for bragging rights. Somehow, even at its seemingly stratospheric price point, the Performante Spyder stands out as a deal.

Enough talk about money. Either you want Lamborghini's best sportscar or you don't. You can either afford it or you can't. And if you can indeed afford it, I strongly suggest stretching the Performante Spyder's legs in a proper setting.

My time behind the wheel of Lamborghini's latest droptop was spent exclusively on public roads. Put simply, the Huracán Performante Spyder's limits are so high that any real test that could put the machine near the limit of its enormous performance envelope would have to be on a proper race track. Thing is, we at Autoblog have driven the coupe on several tracks around the world, and each time have raved about the Performante's stellar performance capabilities. I have no reason to expect anything less of the Spyder.

But the beauty of the Performante Spyder is that it's not just a toy for the track. Push the wheel-mounted toggle into Strada, drop the top, and relax. This Lamborghini truly offers the best of both worlds: blazing performance when you need it, a removable top for Sunday drives — and stunning good looks no matter the occasion.

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