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The incredible Performante coupé loses its roof, but remains enthralling to drive
There are signs, here and there. If you rattle the Huracán Performante Spyder over a rough patch of tarmac at speed, you’ll be aware of the structure shuddering slightly around you. In the third gear with the throttle wide open it doesn’t feel as effortlessly accelerative as it might – although by the time 6000rpm has come and gone you won’t believe there could possibly be another car on the road that’s as fast. You might be faintly aware of the chassis getting a touch flustered when you ask it to do several things at once, too; such as turn into a corner while you’re hard on the brakes just at the moment the road drops away, for instance.
If you really go looking for them – as in, look so intently that you’re paying no attention to anything else – you can identify the handful of ways in which the Performante Spyder is compromised over the Performante coupé. Its decapitated structure is less rigid and is saddled with 125kg of additional weight, but those things only make themselves known right out there in the margins. Most of the time, in the heart of the page, the drop-top model is every bit as deserving of your special red ink as the fixed-roof car.
The Performante treatment is the same for both versions. The 5.2-litre V10 has been wrung out to 631bhp, while torque jumps up from 413 to 443lb ft compared to the standard Huracán. The weight saving is 35kg like for like, mostly down to a lightweight exhaust system and what Lamborghini calls Forged Composites, which to you and I looks like chopped, rather than woven, carbonfibre. The chassis is reworked for sharper dynamics and the tyres are stupendously grippy Pirelli P Zero Corsas. The signature innovation is Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA), a neat system of electronically controlled flaps in the front splitter and rear wing that can divert air one way or the other to increase downforce one moment and reduce drag the next.
Performante models are still four-wheel drive, which only seems to make them faster. The coupé is Autocar’s reigning handling track lap record holder, faster on a dry circuit than any hypercar. The heavier, slightly wobblier Spyder will never achieve the same giant-killing feats on track, but you can be sure the Performante makeover gets results.
Now, it does need to be said this car is fundamentally at odds with itself. Building a lean, track-going machine out of the tubbier, less rigid Spyder model is like trying to make a speedy winger out of a heavy-set prop. It’s the wrong starting point. On circuit the Performante Spyder will inevitably give away a few tenths to the coupé. Out on the road, however, the topless model is no less thrilling and no less rewarding. It is a masterstroke.
That titan of an engine – more vocal now thanks to the trick exhaust and even better appreciated with the canvas hood stowed away – is arguably the most exhilarating combustion engine you can buy right now. The ride and damping are exquisite (on optional adaptive dampers, at least, which cost £5148 with a front axle lift included), body control is absolute, grip levels beggar belief and the twin-clutch transmission is impossibly fast.
The steering, with its variable assistance and variable ratio, takes some getting used to. It is too sharp and overly responsive, which makes the car feel a touch nervous to begin with. Headroom with the roof in place is tight, but it’s the fixed-back bucket seats that really let the side down. After 90 minutes or so at the wheel you’ll want to stop and go
for a short walk, just to straighten your spine out.
Lamborghini finally introduced a custom driving mode – called Ego mode – to the Aventador S last year, but the Huracán Performante does without it. DP
Engine V10, 5204cc, petrol
Power 631bhp at 8000rpm
Torque 443lb ft at 6500rpm
Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch
Dry weight 1507kg
Top speed 201mph
CO2/tax band 320g/km, 37%
Rivals McLaren 570S Spider, Ferrari 488 Spider