Drop the top of the Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder and you’re left with vastness above and a black-framed windshield ahead. Seeing out isn’t difficult, but the world is suddenly framed and defined by the little black box ahead of you. It’s sort of like peering through the viewfinder of a Hasselblad or the little rectangle that film directors make with their fingers when they’re trying to appear extra artsy. Looking at the world through the Huracán’s windshield changes your mood, edits out the irrelevant, and focuses your mind on what’s important.
The pavement seems to zoom right under the windshield in a way that makes 35 mph looks like real speed. Not that the Performante Spyder needs to resort to any trickery. It’s seriously quick, and unleashing the rage of the 631-hp 5.2-liter V-10 at its 8500-rpm redline never ever gets old. Plucked from the Performante coupe, a 3429-pound missile that will hit 60 mph in 2.3 seconds and punch through the quarter-mile in 10.2 seconds at 136 mph, the V-10 is a naturally aspirated middle finger to a world gone turbo.
Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road
We don’t expect the Spyder to be more than a tenth or two slower in most acceleration tests. A reinforced windshield, the electric folding soft top, and some new bodywork to accommodate the top add 276 pounds, according to Lamborghini. The engine, which sits under glass in the coupe, is hidden from view in the Spyder by a cover that protects the folded top from immolation. As in the coupe, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic provides launch control that bring the revs to 4500 rpm before the clutch engages and the all-wheel-drive system does its thing. In this mode, the computer takes care of the upshifts and it’s goodbye, yellow brick road.
The transmission won’t upshift on its own in manual mode or when in Corsa, the most aggressive driving mode. Instead, it’ll relentlessly pound into the rev limiter. Having to do redline upshifts is something that makes track driving trickier since a perfectly timed tug of the column-mounted paddle is required to extract the most out of the Spyder. Do it early and you’ve lost some acceleration, do it even a split-second late and you’re in the rev limiter. Many brands offer the possibility of an automatic upshift at redline and are programmed to not perform mid-corner upshifts, but Lamborghini makes you do the shifting. It’d certainly be a bit easier if it provided shift lights on the steering wheel like Ferrari and BMW do, because in the first couple of gears, the V-10 spins like a boat engine without a propeller. Rev limiter, here we come.
On the roads that cut in and out of the Napa Valley in Northern California, the Spyder has the brashness of a despot who just got access to nuclear weapons. In Sport and Corsa modes, the exhaust flaps stay open at all times and the V-10 goes from merely loud to don’t-tell-OSHA. After a lucrative career at Kellogg’s, Snap, Crackle, and Pop appear to have left their jobs to tune the sound of the Performante’s exhaust on the overrun. Getting to hear the burning of every fuel molecule is why you buy the convertible version and put up with the roughly 13 percent price increase-the Performante Spyder opens at $313,654. If you’re uncomfortable drawing attention to yourself, the Lambo’s design and its screaming exhaust might be a bit much. Not to worry; it’s no more embarrassing than admitting you’ve seen Stomp, Nickelback, Dane Cook, or Coldplay. Or all four.
Driving fast in the Performante Spyder shrinks the universe into the space of that windshield frame. Although the steering column will occasionally quiver, there’s no other clue that you’re in the open version. Careful suspension tuning to compensate for the greater weight over the rear wheels makes the Spyder feel exactly like the coupe. Light steering efforts bring forth an easy and quick turn-in that masks the width and overall size of the Spyder. The front tires communicate their grip levels clearly through the steering wheel. The active aero ALA system opens and closes vents to provide downforce where and when you need it. There’s so much grip and performance that when you get back into a lesser car, you’ll find yourself squealing the tires around the first few corners before you return to reality. We’d call it the Go-Kart Effect because every time we drive a go-kart and get back into a street car the first thing we do is almost go off at the first corner.
The active aerodynamics, brake-based torque vectoring, and stability control programming are especially impressive because all systems work in harmony. The Performante Spyder experience is perfectly cohesive and natural. Its gestalt is transcendent. And you thought driving a Lamborghini was all Prada sunglasses, spray tanning, and paisley dress shirts. Okay, well, it’s those things too, but the Performante Spyder also has a soul-stirring greatness-and a windshield-that’ll reframe your world.