Often the greatest feats of engineering are the ones that seem easy, even imperceptible.
As when you take a high-performing sports car, remove the top, and find a way to achieve the same aggression, stiffness and wind efficiency in the new version. It’s a lot more complicated than just lopping off the roof. Physics and aerodynamics are complicated devils.
The engineers at Lamborghini have found a way to tame them, though, with the 2016 Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 Spyder. This is the drop-top version of the excellent coupe we saw last year; rather than making the car heavy or burdensome around corners, a common problem of convertibles, the alteration comes only as an improvement. The starting MSRP is $262,350; delivery and fees bring the number to $267,545, roughly on-par with competitors from Ferrari and Aston Martin and a bump more than the $238,500 coupe version.
When driving the beast, the open-air thrills run large. Lambo credits this to “redesigning every single element for the precise purpose of eliminating the roof.” It sounds like quite a process. Maybe even magic. I’m glad it paid off.
I drove the Huracan Spyder in Los Angeles traffic, through West Hollywood and Santa Monica, in the Malibu hills, and along the twisty Pacific Coast Highway. It is the most intense modern production car I’ve ever driven, equaled only by its siblings (Aventadors and Gallardos) and by a few halcyon afternoons spent piloting a Bugatti or two. That’s rare air.
From the moment you get behind the wheel — no, from the moment you see the car — your senses go into overdrive. Everything is heightened, super-sharp in focus, as when you walk alone through a dark alley. One errant sound, one blush of wind on your cheek, and you whip to action like an assassin ready to fight.
If you were, and you did, the Huracan Spyder would prove an apt weapon. Heck, it even looks like a weapon, a fighter jet whose edges along a taut body might as well have been carved by the wind itself. The Spyder has a short nose, dipped forward and down, set with deeply slanted headlamps that hold triangular LED lights. Turn the lights on and the car becomes an animal growling at you from the shadows.
The blackened front grille enhances the predator effect. Four big wheels, on 20-inch blade-style rims, are pushed all the way out to the corners of the car; a transparent engine bonnet is optional and preferred to better show off the car. It sits behind the front seats as a clear divider between the inside of the car and the rear trunk.
If you want, you can choose among a handful of colors on your ceramic brake calipers and a smattering of carbon fiber accents to augment the hybrid aluminum/carbon frame. The outer skin of the Huracan consists of lightweight aluminum and composite, too.
The real potency comes from what’s under the hood.
The Huracan Spyder has the same V10 602-horsepower engine as the hardtop version, with the same all-wheel drive on a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. You can choose among three drive modes, plus launch control; use the paddle shifters, if you don’t like automatic, in changing gears. Sadly, there is no manual option.
Top speed here is 201 miles per hour, exactly the same as with the coupe with a 0-62 mph sprint time of 3.4 seconds. (The coupe does it in 3.2 seconds.) Lamborghini is particularly proud of these statistics, along with the fact that both cars share virtually the same drag coefficient for wind resistance.
Sure, driving over potholes is a drag. Slowing down sufficiently to handle them without damaging the rims, bumper or chassis tested my patience, and the lift-kit that raises the car nearly two inches only goes so far.
But once you get out to the road, once you make that final corner and see a stretch of highway open before you, you’re golden. The car is perfect. The steering might as well be linked directly to your brain in its precision. Braking is instantaneous. There’s no rolling around corners, no lumbering up hills trying to gather speed, no hesitation when you press the gas.
Then you come back to earth. You know how you’re actually safest flying fast and high in a jet rather than during takeoff and landing? Driving slow and idling in traffic is comparable for the Huracan Spyder. I’vementioned the excruciatingly low clearance. There’s also the lack of visibility (I pretty much gave up even attempting to look behind me — not a good thing) and a dearth of head space. The tiny, grainy rear-view camera doesn’t proffer much consolation.
Looking forward wasn’t good either: The bar across the top of the windshield aligned with my line of vision, prohibiting me from seeing any light-changes at intersections. I had to crouch and hunch my back to see stoplights.
There is a cup holder, if you buy one. (It costs an additional $600 as part of a travel package.) There is relatively little seat adjustment and no USB plug. If you want cruise control, it costs an additional $1,000.