Best Of The Best 2006: Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

Its exhaust note turns heads even before the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder comes into view—quickly—as a razor-sharp, sculpted wedge in aluminum and composite that defines the modern sports car. Without making compromises in speed, handling, and flair, it offers comfort and around-town drivability on par with popular German brands—which makes the $195,000 Gallardo Spyder an almost practical solution for drivers who are in search of maximum style and performance.

And make no mistake; performance is maximized with a V-10 engine that has endeared itself even to loyalists of the revered Lamborghini V-12. While its big brother, the Murciélago, or even the Corvette Z06, may best the Gallardo in terms of seat-of-the-pants torque delivery, it compensates for any comparative want with an 8,000 rpm redline that entertains driver and passersby with the most seductive wail this side of F/1.

The benefits of all-wheel drive—as opposed to rear-only—become so apparent after a day of track or canyon time that it begs the question why more enthusiasts do not explore this oft-questioned solution to power delivery. Improved road holding, onboard systems such as traction control, and the best brakes in the business make driving the Gallardo Spyder in a fast and safe manner feel like second nature.

Our test car drew stares of disbelief that a vehicle so sexy and Italian could be anything but red. It is refreshing to see contemporary colors—pastels and sophisticated metallics from other design fields, such as architecture, furniture, and fashion—find their way into the automotive landscape. The Spyder’s blue canvas top raises and lowers with the touch of a button, disappearing beneath the rear engine cover to establish a clean profile when the road calls for top-down driving. Wind noise and buffeting are minimal at speed when the rear and side windows are raised.

How does Lamborghini’s baby bull compare to the Ferrari F430 Spider? Despite the temptation to employ them, equine and bovine analogies are inapposite when discussing differences between the two cars. The Lamborghini is more powerful, stiffer, better finished, and perhaps less high-strung than the horse car. We suggest one of each.

Complaints are few. Purists will continue to request the 6-speed manual with gated shifter after experiencing the frustrations of e.gear’s clunky first gear in rush-hour traffic, as well as the idiosyncratic reverse mode common to all paddle-shift systems. The turning radius approximates that of an RTD bus, and rear vision can always be better. Gas mileage will be a nonissue, though consumption is, naturally, prodigious. But none of this matters: Our Best of the Best sports car may be the best Lamborghini period, presenting all the virtues of the Gallardo SE coupe wrapped in an audacious convertible rocket ship.



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