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Lamborghini Performante

Italian’s Gallardo Spyder has lost some weight – but has that given it a performance boost?

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The Gallardo Performante is a stop-gap between the firm’s current and next generation of models. Although the weight loss of 65kg is significant, it’s nowhere near the 200kg-plus that will be chopped from next year’s Murciélago’s weight. However, in isolation, the Performante offers all the  visual drama Lamborghini is famous for, with the added bonus of a sharper drive and a drop-top to hear its scintillating soundtrack even better.

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It's the supercabrio that’s shed the kilos to punch above its weight! Lamborghini wowed crowds at the Paris Motor Show last month with its stunning Sesto Elemento concept, which tipped the scales at only 999kg.

Its influence is already being felt on the Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder – and Auto Express was first behind the wheel, taking the newcomer from its Los Angeles Motor Show stand on to the road!  

Called the Performante, the newcomer is essentially the drop-top version of the firm’s Gallardo Superleggera – which stands for ‘superlight’ – coupé.

The open-roofed car gets the same two-fold recipe of reducing weight and upping power. Thanks to an aluminium spaceframe chassis, the standard Spyder weighs in at 1,550kg, which isn’t particularly heavy in the first place for a car with such performance. However, thanks to the use of carbon fibre for the side skirts, rear wing and diffuser, underbody cover and even the wing mirror housings, the Performante’s weight has been trimmed by 65kg, taking it down to 1,485kg.

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The new look adds even more menace to the Spyder’s chiselled body, giving it a lower and more aggressive stance. 

The Performante is supplied with a small rear wing – but should you buy one, you can opt for a larger version. 

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Yet while the car has been lightened, it’s still not short of luxuries, including hand-stitched leather on the dash and swathes of Alcantara throughout the interior. Air-con and electric windows are also standard kit. And complementing the loss of weight is a useful hike in power for the 5.2-litre V10. Mirroring the Superleggera coupé version, the engine now puts out 562bhp instead of 552bhp, while drive is still to all four wheels. 

Lambo’s e-gear automated manual gearbox is standard, although you can opt for the six-speed manual at no extra cost.

With the top down, the V10 barks into life and seems even louder than the Superleggera. Given its looks, the Performante isn’t the type of car you buy if you’re shy and retiring. But the engine is surprisingly unwilling at under 2,500rpm, encouraging you to use higher revs. The V10 really comes alive above 3,500rpm, when the valve in the exhaust opens to give you maximum power and a 

glorious racecar soundtrack.

The Performante’s claimed 3.9 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint seems entirely believable. The steering is surprisingly light at low speeds, but once the road opens, the 30:70 front-to-rear power split comes into its own to give a razor-sharp drive, while the four-wheel-drive chassis serves up extremely high levels of grip. 

If you’re lucky enough to take the Performante on a track, the top speed of 201mph is achievable with the lightweight canvas top down, as well as up.

But, like all good things, Lambo’s latest car has a downside. The price is set to start from £190,000, which makes it a treat only a lucky few will ever get to savour.

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