MIAMI, Florida — Miami, and specifically sun-kissed South Beach, is ground zero for Lamborghini — even when driving pleasure is limited to lazy circles under the W Hotel portico as passersby drool and gawk.
Boosted by the Huracan LP610-4 and its new Spyder offshoot, the company is basking in post-recession sunshine. The purveyor of “La Dolce Vita” fantasies sold a record 3,245 supercars last year, nearly tripling its output from 2010.
Awash with wealthy types who don’t mind a candy-colored profile, America reeled in 1,009 of those, more than China, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined. By 2017, production of the upcoming Urus SUV will nearly double the company’s footprint in Sant’Agata Bolognese, including a sparkling new assembly line and 500 new employees.
The Huracan Spyder looks to sustain that hurtling momentum as a mid-engine beast that can nip 201 mph with its convertible top up or down. For the latter, no amount of Aqua Net could stave off follicular destruction, even for a GOP presidential candidate who once owned a Lamborghini Diablo VT roadster. No, we’re not talking about Jeb Bush.
Lamborghini posits the Spyder as the “lifestyle” member of the Huracan trio, with the all-wheel-drive coupe as the “performance” edition and the rear-drive LP580-2 as the “fun-to-drive” sibling. But if you think that means the Spyder is strictly for club hopping, there’s a 5.2-liter 602-horsepower V-10 — now with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation — the Raging Bull would like a word with you. A very loud word, scusi, whose open-air fight song alone offers a good reason to choose the Spyder. That 8,500-rpm crescendo trumpets the glory of a large-bore, naturally aspirated engine, a glory that’s fading as quickly as Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, and Porsche can bolt turbochargers onto their offerings.
Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s ever-proud R&D chief, declares that while a turbocharged engine is fine for the upcoming SUV, “a super sports car needs to be naturally aspirated.” Period. Why? Reggiani runs through his stone tablet of engine commandments: A sky-high redline, instant throttle response, tuneful engine and exhaust, and zero handicap from turbo lag.
“When [a turbo] engine can do all that, it will be time for a turbo in a super sports Lamborghini,” he says.
Regulators or rivals might one day change that tune, of course. But we’re not complaining as we skedaddle out of Miami in a matte-gray Spyder. Even on this rain-washed morning, our Crayola-hued convoy of Lamborghinis brightens the skies, and the faces of self-appointed paparazzi, in a way few cars can match. (Onlookers and Lamborghini seemed especially smitten with a robin’s egg shade called Blu Cepheus, though it will take an ultra-secure man to drive one).
Tip a cap to its sister car, the newly formidable Audi R8, but the Huracan just knocks people on their asses: In Miami terms, the Lambo is supermodel Gigi Hadid in a bikini and 5-inch Louboutin heels, prowling for action. The Audi is her smart, bespectacled German assistant, hauling the gear in a chunky bag and making sure everyone’s on time. (And yes, it’s perfectly OK, and potentially wiser, to have a crush on the assistant).
With no disclaimers, the Huracan is a beautiful car, an effortless bridge between modernity and the company’s classical wedge form, and shorn of the Death Star fillips that marred exponentially pricier models like the Reventon. From the start of development, Lamborghini worked to ensure the Spyder would live up to the coupe’s standards, in both design and performance.
That began with the lightweight, hybrid carbon fiber and aluminum chassis, which Lamborghini says tops the old Gallardo Spyder’s rigidity by 40 percent. For the all-aluminum body, rear fenders are reworked to blend smoothly with the soft top, itself a choice that diverges from the power hardtops of the Ferrari 488 and McLaren 650S Spiders.
Lamborghini says the three-layer soft top makes the cabin nearly as quiet as the coupe’s when it is closed, and that seems reasonable: A sound-absorbing rubber layer allows a normal conversation even when a noon-hour deluge pelts the roof. And when the rain lets up on the way to Key Biscayne, we slow a hair below 31 mph on a freeway on-ramp, which allows the top to stow in 17 seconds flat.
At lunch in Miami’s hot, mural-heavy Design District, we check out the top’s movable fins, a pair of motorized black panels just behind the headrests that help mimic the coupe’s profile after the roof is lowered. Those fins integrate air ducts to relieve air pressure and reduce top-down cabin noise.
Reggiani emphasizes that the drop-top’s effects on handling balance are negligible, including an unchanged 43/57 percent weight distribution front to rear. Any added roof structure that could be packed at the Lambo’s center of gravity, within a roughly 0.75-inch cube, allowed design to proceed without recalibrating anything from the coupe. Beyond that, Lamborghini packed the heaviest parts low and directly against the firewall. The biggest constraint, he says, was the top panel that lies atop roughly the first three cylinders of the engine, though that soft canopy is also the lightest piece.
All told, the mechanical roof, including its steel, spring-activated emergency roll bar, adds about 220 pounds. Overall, Lamborghini says the convertible presses 3,399 pounds onto scales; that’s 264 more than the 3,135-pound coupe.
Beneath a top that’s available in black, brown, or red, the cabin is largely unchanged: A Michael Bay action lair with the Audi-based Virtual Cockpit TFT driver’s display, that military-jet-style, red-capped Start/Stop button, a flying bridge console, and the outward visibility of a medieval dungeon. Paddle shifters as large as scythes mount on the steering column, rather than the steering wheel, as on the R8.
It’s a fine mission control center, busting at its exotic seams with Nappa leather and Alcantara, but there are quibbles. Faux-metal finish on toggle switches doesn’t jibe with the $267,545 base price. Ditto the plastic, piano-black honeycomb along the slender, hex-vented dash. Choose between five trims and 17 colors, but some of those body-matching interior bits push the bounds of taste: Bright green leather, especially, recalls a vinyl-wrapped Ski Nautique of the 1990s.
For standard power sport seats, an ECU ensures that seatbacks never contact the firewall. But whether you select those or the optional carbon-fiber shells, the chairs are simply too high for even some 6-foot-tall adults. Yes, we get that the roof peaks at a limbo-low 46 inches. Lamborghini protested that we were simply fooled by the top-down perspective. But even with the top closed, taller drivers get an eyeful of windshield header and headliner, and reflexively scrunch down to get a better driving position.
The driving doesn’t rise to 488 Spider heights, but there’s nothing wrong with that position. Even compared with the Gallardo, the Huracan is mellow and tractable in its Strada mode. Lambo’s inertial platform uses a half-dozen sensors to dispatch lightning instruction to performance systems; from the optional magnetic suspension to the dynamic, ratio-adjusting steering that’s controversial, but shouldn’t be: It’s an option, so take it or don’t. Standard carbon-ceramic brakes, in a choice of caliper colors, include massive 14.96-inch front discs.
At puddle-strewn intersections, the Huracan explodes forward with nary a slip or ESP intervention, its mechanical locking differential divvying 413-lb-ft of torque across the rear axle. With its Audi Quattro-based AWD system and 20-inch Giano wheels shod in Pirelli P Zeros, the Spyder reveals steady understeer near the limit but also ridiculous grip. It leaves mortal cars floundering, its transformative LDF seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission ripping through gears as pedestrians’ heads snap to see who’s going full hoon over Miami. Try that in a Porsche 911 GT3 or Corvette Z06 in a monsoon or blizzard and see how far you get.
Crank the car’s ANIMA switch to Sport or Corsa, and it’s a new, home-run ball game, as we learn when the clouds part and a rare, wide-open Florida road beckons. The Spyder leaps forward at the brush of the throttle and, next thing you know, we’re topping 130 mph, the car determined to lash the 8,500-rpm redline again and again. Lamborghini pegs the 0-62 mph romp at 3.4 seconds, and to 124 mph in 10.2 seconds, a respective 0.2 and 0.3 second behind the coupe. If fresh air and an epic V-10 soundtrack are higher priorities than straight-line acceleration, you’ll pay about $24,000 extra for the Spyder versus the $243,695 coupe.
Sure, some auto writers love to presume that their princess-sensitive glutes can detect the minutest performance handicap in an open-roof supercar: a few peas worth of added weight, a telling decrease in agility. We call BS. A stopwatch and a racetrack may well parse the difference between the Huracan coupe and Spyder. But on public roads? Today’s carbon-buttressed convertibles — designed as such from the ground up — feel virtually indistinguishable from coupes at anything shy of 98 percent driving. And how often, really, does an owner get to flog a supercar that hard?
Your ears won’t deceive you, however. Nor will the envious eyes that get a better view of you in a convertible Lamborghini — in South Beach or otherwise.
2016 Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 Spyder Specifications
|Engine:||5.2L 40-valve DOHC V-10/602 hp @ 8,250 rpm, 413 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm|
|Transmission:||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Layout:||2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, AWD convertible|
|EPA Mileage:||14/21 mpg (city/hwy) (est)|
|L x W x H:||175.6 x 75.7 x 46.5 in|
|0-60 MPH:||3.3 sec (est)|
|Top Speed:||201 mph|