The Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder Is Turned Up To 12

Taking off the Performante’s roof, well, it blows the roof off the mother.

Arthur St. Antoinewriter, photographer The Manufacturerphotographer

When its "regular" Huracán mid-engine two-seater seems too sensible to you, Lamborghini is ready to help by way of the even faster and even more powerful Huracán Performante. But, hey, maybe 631 horsepower and a zero-to-60-mph time of just 2.3 seconds are only taking you to 11. Want to hit 12? Well, join me for some seat time in Lambo's latest hair-wrecker: the new open-air Huracán Performante Spyder.

Press the button on the center console and, in about 17 seconds, the Spyder's soft top automatically folds away under the rear deck. You cannot see the engine (in the coupe version it's on display under glass), but look up and you can now see the sun, the clouds, the passing birds—and nearby tree branches blurring overhead at such velocity you'll think you're whirling around in the epicenter of a Kansas twister. This is sports-car driving turned up to 12, all right.

The Spyder lays bare every ounce of the Performante's monstrousness by removing the thin sound barrier of the coupe's hard roof. With the cockpit now fully exposed to the open air, your ears will think you're sitting right between the banks of the mid-mounted naturally aspirated V-10. The exhaust note is deafening, electrifying, glorious. The Huracán may share its basic structural bits and powertrain with the Audi R8, but no R8 ever sounded like this. As it screams to the 8,500-rpm redline, the V-10 goes full lunatic, like a Kodiak bear that's caught a wolf stealing its salmon stash. The unholy wail will scare the hair right off your children—even if you don't have any yet. I also found myself lifting off the gas at every opportunity just to hear the lightning-strike backfire out of the twin rear pipes on overrun. Anybody following behind probably thought I was unleashing a fusillade of cannonballs.

Fortunately, everything else that's great about the Huracán Performante is still on conspicuous display, too. The soft top and its folding mechanism add roughly 300 pounds to the car's weight, but with all 443 lb-ft of torque surging to the ground via standard all-wheel drive, the acceleration remains staggeringly furious. Maybe the Spyder is a tenth or two slower to 60 mph than its lighter, hardtop sibling—maybe—but from behind the wheel you never notice. In fact, with the windows and top down, the experience is far more visceral and immediate, the onrushing wind whipping at your face as the speedo spools madly upward, that searing exhaust note yelling, "You miss those two tenths now, numbers boy?"

While a wheel-mounted switch lets you select Strada (street) mode or the firmer, more responsive Sport setting, I found myself driving the Spyder almost exclusively in Corsa (race), where the car becomes its angriest and most eager. Click into Corsa and a giant tach appears on the central digital display, the other gauges now relegated to secondary status. The exhaust, as it also does in Sport, opens up with an unfiltered boom, even at idle. The ride goes full firm, the traction control backs way off, and the steering and the gearchanges from the seven-speed dual-clutch paddle shifter prime themselves to respond with the quickness of a striking cobra. So armed, I made a pass up my favorite Malibu canyon two-lane, an experience dominated by the guttural blare of the rising and downshifting engine, the surge of g forces through turns, the punch of an invisible wall when standing on the huge carbon-ceramic brakes, and the light, super-deft steering delivering a ticker tape of passing roadway to my fingertips. As on the coupe, the Spyder's active-aero ALA system does a magical job of making such a rapid ascent entirely exhilarating but also entirely drama-free. The Spyder is easy to drive at velocities that would make an average sports car quiver and stumble. Nah, forget magic. This is witchcraft.

What's not to like about such a machine? Apart from not being able to afford the $361,000-plus as-tested window sticker, not much. The base Huracán has become the Huracán Evo, and it adopts this engine, so now people who spend less might be just as fast. The driver's seat gave me a backache after an hour or two behind the wheel—something I never experienced driving the coupe, but perhaps I was simply having a bad spine day. Also among the demerits: Entering and exiting the car requires at least a basic knowledge of Cirque du Soleil acrobatics, and a lot of people are going to take your picture. I mean everybody. The passing "Star Tours" vans running to and from Hollywood all screeched to a stop when they caught the Spyder at a stoplight, and the smartphone cameras came out flashing. As you read this, I'm being Photoshopped out of every single one of those pictures.

Not once during its stay with me did the Spyder complain in the slightest. Not when idling along in afternoon traffic on Wilshire Boulevard. Not when firing-up via the fabulous "gated" start/stop button in the center console—stone cold, heat-soaked, whatever, the V-10 didn't mind. The transmission never missed a beat, the soft top stowed and raised without error, every control worked brilliantly (being able to lift the nose with the push of a console switch proved a front splitter-saver when attempting to crawl over speedbumps or small road gullies). Sure, it's mostly Audi switchgear inside, but the Spyder wears it all with dramatic Italian flair. The cockpit is every bit as racy as the car's lust-inducing body.

Driving a sports car this raw yet refined, this fast yet approachable, this unforgettably, unrelentingly sensational—well, it spoils you for almost everything else. I'll close with a question for Lamborghini: How are you going to top this one?

2018 Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $312,554/$361,574 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 5.2L DOHC 40-valve V-10; 631 hp @ 8,000 rpm, 443 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine AWD convertible
EPA MILEAGE 13/19 mpg (city/highway)
L x W x H 177.4 x 75.7 x 46.5 in
WHEELBASE 103.1 in
WEIGHT 3,700 lb (est)
0-60 MPH 2.5 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 201 mph (mfr)
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