Supercar Summit: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Lamborghini Gallardo, Audi R8, Porsche 911, McLaren MP4-12C, and Ferrari 458 Italia

Dave Kinney
Greg Pajo John Wycherley

5. Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante
Zorro, here comes your new horse.

Have you ever tried to push a champagne cork back into the bottle? That's how I feel when I approach the Gallardo. OK, with the top down, it's a little easier to slide the full length of Kacher (six feet, eight inches) behind the steering wheel, but even when eventually installed, my crouched body is in pain. Legs akimbo, head ducked forward as if on a tour of the Roman catacombs, feet frozen at funny angles, bum stashed rearward all the way to the wiring of the seat heater -- I now know why Dirk Nowitzki drives an SUV and not a sports car. More compact mortals, however, are likely to be smitten with the Lambo's style and substance. Seemingly designed by machete rather than with a pencil, the angular, wedge-shaped, hewn-from-solid-aluminum droptop pulls bigger crowds than the keyhole of Will and Kate's bedroom. Further enhancing the appeal of the mean-looking, ground-hugging Italian is the soundtrack that the composers from Sant'Agata have developed for their awesome V-10. The normally aspirated, 5.2-liter unit needs only a couple thousand revs to stage a jam session that stimulates your auditory canals. With all throttle blades wide open and the tach needle swinging toward the 8500-rpm redline, the Performante unleashes massive vibes and triple-figure decibels. The Performante treatment includes a 10-hp increase (to 563 hp), a 143-pound weight reduction, and seats borrowed from the limited-edition Reventon, plus a neo-Gothic body kit highlighted by plenty of carbon-fiber add-ons, black wheels, and a somber Alcantara cockpit. The steering is razor-sharp but compromised by an overly large turning circle. The magnetic grip and tenacious traction are offset by a twitchy, occasionally errant, and superstiff front suspension. Rowdy handling at the limit resembles a bull ride on a nail-studded saddle. Other descriptors that come to mind are "totally involving," "quite scary," and "as memorable as your first bungee jump."

On the track: Fast, ferocious, always on fire. Smooth tarmac helps the Performante shine. Driven with heart in hand, this is a great carver with amazing brakes and a commendable chassis.

On the road: An eye-opener for the first fifteen miles but hard work for the remainder of the day. Loves to fight the driver, the road, the elements -- you name it.

Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante
Base price $253,095

40-valve DOHC V-10
Displacement 5.2 liters (318 cu in)
Power 562 hp @ 8000 rpm
Torque 398 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automated manual
Drive 4-wheel

Hydraulically assisted
Suspension, front Control arms, coil springs
Suspension, rear Control arms, coil springs
Brakes Vented discs, ABS
Tires Pirelli PZero Corsa
Tire size f, r 235/35YR-19,295/30YR-19

L x W x H
172.7 x 74.8 x 46.6 in
Wheelbase 100.8 in
Track F/R 64.3/62.9 in
Weight 3700 lb (est.)
Weight dist. 43/57%
Fuel mileage 13/20 mpg (est.)
0-62 mph 3.9 sec
Top speed 201 mph

Best lap
01:29.92 min
Top speed in lap
136.66 mph

Mercedes really needs to get with the program when it comes to tires. A high performance car needs Maximum Performance Summer Tires like the Goodyear Asymmetricals, Continental Extreme Contact DW's, or Michelin Pilot Super Sports, or Bridgestone Potenza S-04s. It makes reviewing Mercedes products a fruitless endeavor.P.S. If you need ideas for an article, try testing a vehicle with all of these tires along with the factory rubber and give your readers a real sense of how important tires are to performance, even among the best.

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