One day I got an email at Colcorsa, from a man who wanted to gift their loved one with a Lamborghini drive for her birthday. Fastforward a few weeks and we’re standing at the parking area outside Terminal 2 at Nice airport, waiting for a matte purple Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder to reappear, having spent several days touring around some of the most beautiful roads in the South of France – what a birthday treat it must have been! The first thing giving away its arrival is the distinctive – and remarkably loud – exhaust sound from a naturally aspirated V10. The sound reaches you far earlier than the car appears in the distance, those screaming downshift sounds as it approached the parking barrier, followed by a rapid acceleration from the gate towards us. That alone would be an exciting appearance, but the fact that behind the wheel was an extraordinary beautiful young woman who drove it like she owned it, with confidence and a big smile on her face, made it all the better. Because who doesn’t enjoy and appreciate the sight of a woman enjoying the thrill of a high performance car?!
Sometimes work comes with perks, and today was one of those days. Having waved off two satisfied customers we found ourselves with the keys to a fabulous machine, and with a bit of negotiation we had persuaded the owner of the car to let us keep it for a few days to get some photos of it, and quite frankly, just drive it. Unfortunately Lamborghini has never sent any press car our way, so all I could do was to take the matter in my own hands, because not in a long time had I wanted to drive a car as much as I wanted to drive the Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, and suddenly I had the chance to treasure one for a few dreamy days.
Cruising along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice I could see the reactions from people, people digging out their phones to get a photo – many of them surprisingly women – of this purple dream. Paint it any colour and a Performante Spyder will always look striking, but the matte purple works so well in the golden light of the Côte d’Azur, and during the course of a few days not only did I get a taste of which routes bring out the best in it, but I also learnt which hours of the day will provide the perfect light that flatter those beautiful lines the most. It was the early sunrises, just before the light became too bright, and it was the enchanting sunsets, the soft golden hour just before the sun disappears behind the mountains.
A few days ‘ownership experience’ ended with a lovestruck, besotted woman. It was there when I woke up in the morning, and the very last thing I saw as I took out the dogs for their evening stroll was quite frankly one of the most exciting car designs I had come across recently. I have always had a soft spot for Lamborghinis. In my late teens, still living in Finland, I remember the controversial image Lamborghini had. The perception was that if you wanted to show off you bought a Lamborghini, and if you were a true car person you bought a Ferrari. The truth is very few people in Finland bought either one of them due to the extremely high car taxes, and those who did probably got told off anyway for being extravagant exhibitionists.
You’re allowed to be an exhibitionists, in the most positive sense, if you’re seated behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder. Because part of the pleasure is the attention, and the owner must agree with me, having decided to opt for the matte purple viola nebula (those who prefer the metallic purple would go for viola parsifae instead). Heads turn, cameras rise towards you, and wherever you leave it you’re likely to return to a crowd surrounding it – people seem to get a real pleasure from seeing a stunning car like this in person. You’ll make friends, and you’ll make enemies – our car nut neighbours came over to admire the car, whilst another joyless neighbour was shouting from the distance ‘stop revving that car or I’ll call the police’. Yes, it is that loud.
The real excitement however comes from the driving experience, and when you’re not driving it you’re already thinking about the next suitable moment to take it out. I was positively surprised how something so brutal and stripped down could be so comfortable to spend time in. When you first cast your eyes on it you’re in your mind preparing for a compromise – for a start the snug sport seats in this specific car didn’t look comfortable at all, in fact they just looked like a carbon shell with a strip of alcantara stretched around bits of it, no soft padding to be seen, with the only adjustment available being back or forward. Whilst you do get some extras – and more padding – with the electric comfort seats, you do sacrifice part of the looks. I personally prefer the look of the sports seats, however being able to adjust the seat height slightly higher would be an advantage. The 7-speed LDF dual clutch gearbox shifts lightning fast, and around the corners it becomes addictive, as the speedometer rises and you’re gaining more confidence. It would be a fantastic car to experience on the more open wide roads in the remote countryside – in my opinion the real supercar territory – but even on the winding narrow Corniche roads we got a glimpse of what it’s capable of.
Under the bonnet is a 631 bhp naturally aspirated 5.2L V10 engine, blisteringly fast, and pair it to the lightweight exhaust and you have a car that sounds just nuts. One doesn’t take the perfect soundtrack for granted, and it very much comes down to personal taste. Two memories that stick in my mind is racing the Porsche 991.1 GT3 through tunnels with the needle approaching redline, day after day, and driving the Ferrari F355 berlinetta through a tunnel in Finland and coming out the other side shocked, wondering to myself where did the world go wrong, and when did car manufacturers stop making cars that awake such emotion, engines that sounded like they came from a Formula 1 car. As we raced through tunnels on the Basse Corniche, the Moyenne Corniche and in Monaco I added the Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder to the list of machines able to cause such intense euphoria in a human being. As the tunnel exit approached we turned our heads to each other in disbelief, almost laughing and crying at the same time – how is it possible that something can sound so insane, and is there any cure for this addiction? How do you ever stop wanting to do that over and over again?
The Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder is no different than other modern supercars – it is very easy to drive, and it can be as tame as you want it to be – if you drive it sensibly you’d never get to know the beast mode – although the characteristics giving it away its performance is arguably the extremely striking looks, the low seating position, the constant engine rumble that surely is more quiet at low speeds but nevertheless never goes unnoticed, and the speed at which it responds to your driving, because your average daily driver rarely offers such throttle response or sharp braking (from carbon-ceramic brakes!). Unleash all the power and the Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spder, with its lightweight carbon-fiber and aluminum chassis, will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 3.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 325 km/h. To get the most brutal performance out of that naturally aspirated V10 you of course have to drive it close to the 8,500 rpm redline – as it should be. The middle console might seem cluttered at first, but every button and switch has a function, and quite frankly if it keeps the clutter away from the steering wheel I’m not going to object to it. The start button is hidden under a fighter jet inspired red switch – one of the coolest features of the raging bull – and everything is easy to reach, from the front-axle lift switch (an option) that will raise the front approx. 5-7 cm – a method to relieve the stress as you approach some of Côte d’Azurs gigantic speed bumps – to the driving mode selector at the bottom of your steering wheel, offering you three options: the default Strada for casual driving, or the more exciting Sport or Corsa to reveal the car’s true soul. The indicators aren’t in their traditional position behind the steering wheel – that space is reserved for the tall paddle shifters – instead you’ll be operating a thumb-switch on the wheel. The soft roof will fold in just 17 seconds and you can operate it at speeds up to 50 km/h. The 100L boot ain’t a practical size for road trips, but it doesn’t get any bigger, so you take what you get – or spend nearly a grand on a separate custom designed luggage set that fits like a glove. The Spyder is slightly slower than the Performante Coupe, the car that in 2016 became the fastest production car around the Nürburgring race track with a 6:52.01 record lap, and the beautiful mid-engine isn’t displayed under a piece of glass for you to admire like it is in the coupe. But I would guess that, mainly thanks to a more intensified sound exhibition, you might feel more connected to the driving experience in a Spyder.
As the Performante has been replaced by the new Huracan EVO I am aware that the chances of a matte purple Performante one day making a permanent entry to my life are pretty low – I have a feeling that from the limited amount of Performante purchasing exhibitionists out there, only a few were adventurous enough to tick the box for viola nebula. Perhaps it is now like a unicorn, one you lust but cannot have, but maybe, just maybe, the EVO could win me over…