This morning our house flooded. A thunderstorm let rip overhead with such ferocity that there was a fast-flowing river running past the front door, and the kitchen floor was soon underwater. Our garage also flooded, so the evo Fast Fleet 205 GTi got its delectable 15-inch Speedlines damp, too. Even worse, earlier the same morning, somehow, incomprehensibly, we’d run out of teabags. Horrific.
The freakish weather also meant that the photoshoot for the Arancio Xanto-painted Lamborghini Huracán Evo Spyder ran about six hours late. After the tinge of disappointment that hung around the Huracán Evo coupe for reasons I’ll explain shortly, I think it’s fair to say that expectations for the significantly heavier, wobblier, soft-top version aren’t especially high.
Yes, I know: it’s still an orange Lamborghini, and no, I don’t expect any sympathy, just as I feel sure there will be those beside themselves with excitement at the merest thought of a drop-top Lambo. But if you view supercars as increasingly nonsensical, irrelevant and largely the preserve of those whose online images usually have themselves centre stage rather than the car, then this is pretty much the apogee of that generation. It’s about making noise, being seen, banging on about what colour you’re going to choose – but not particularly about driving. Or is it?
It doesn’t help that by the time we start the shoot it’s late afternoon, the schedule to get any meaningful photography on the Lambo before it gets dark feels ludicrously tight, and the Spyder already seems determined to sabotage any positive feelings I might have towards it. I remember now that our old Fast Fleet R8 Spyder drew flak for its compromised interior space over the coupe variant, and this Lamborghini, unsurprisingly given the family ties, has the same flaw.
The reduction in cabin length means that the seat just doesn’t go back far enough (it’s also set very high), and the result is I feel ridiculous – like I’m trying to drive a child’s battery-powered toy car, the blast of slipstream air battering my forehead, or with the roof up, my head tilted to one side in an attempt to not bulge the cloth roof panel. It’s only when I remember the old Murciélago/Aventador trick of moving the seat forward, against logic, then reclining the seat-back, before sliding downwards so my knees are almost level with my chin, that I can properly drive it. It works because the wheel comes towards you further than in any other car I can recall; it’s almost like they intended you to sit like that. It’s possibly not so good for your back muscles, though.
The coupe’s biggest failing is the ANIMA driving modes system, and of course it is also present here. This gives you Strada (road), Sport (er, Sport) and Corsa (any strip of road in front of a crowd), but no way of mixing and matching settings – no ‘Ego’ mode, to use the Lambo lexicon. It’s such a shame, because essentially this means you can’t get the engine and gearbox how you’d want them for serious driving – without the auto kickdown and upshift, and with the quick gearchanges and scythe-like throttle response – without the seized-solid ride and show-off exhaust volume levels. It’s all more grist to the mill that the Huracán Evo Spyder really isn’t a car meant for driving, but one for posing. And yet…
But that orange paint really is something special. Even on the wettest of wet days, and covered in post-harvest countryside filth, it pops and pings with the vibrancy of a satsuma that’s been pumped through with bombarding neutrinos. And while it may be entirely in the eye of the beholder, I do think Lamborghini Centro Stile has done a tidy job of lopping the roof off the Huracán, maintaining the wedge profile and bullmastiff rear haunches and following the general line of the fixed roof with the canvas replacement. It’s a thick-set Italian prop forward of a supercar compared to the typically lithe centre halves from down the road at Modena FC, but then that’s always been the way, hasn’t it?
The Evo is dominated by what lies at its centre, even if with the roof mechanism effectively stored above the engine you can no longer see its extravagant cam covers. Instead, a much smaller hatch opens towards the rear of the deck, where levels can be checked and topped up if necessary. As in the coupe, the Spyder gets the ‘Performante spec’ iteration of this 5.2-litre masterpiece, which with its titanium valves and full-blooded 471kW is not so much an engine as an entire orchestra under the conducting baton of your right foot. Yes, it begins with the entirely over-the-top KABOOM of its start-up theatricals, but that really is just an overture. If you’ve forgotten to click into first with the beautiful metal paddles, and inadvertently breathe on the throttle, I guarantee the sudden inertia-free yelp of revs will make you jump out of your skin. Angry, free-spirited and entirely natural, it’s unique in the circles the Huracán currently mixes in, and forms the bedrock of the car’s appeal.
Despite the inclement weather, I feel the need to drive top down, figuring it’s the professional thing to do and be damned what onlookers will think. It takes 17 seconds to lower, possible while driving at speeds of up to 50km/h, and it’s as slick as anything from the German brands in the VW Group; gone are the days of the hopeless Cub Scout piece of canvas that formed the roof on a Murciélago Roadster.
To my surprise, there isn’t a tirade of abuse from the aforementioned onlookers, but rather beaming smiles, toots, thumbs up and questions – lots of questions from enthusiastic souls wandering over to take a closer look whenever the car is stationary. It’s a reminder that whatever kind of world we now live in, most people still love the sheer outlandish, fantasy aura of a Lamborghini, like a charismatic, if flawed and troubled, actor. The loveable rogue.
My initial thoughts are largely drowned out by the noise, but they are that, firstly, the Evo Spyder has a surprisingly good ride quality, particularly in Strada, but even in Sport. And as for Corsa mode, it no longer seems to be the issue that it was in the coupe. Secondly, this structure feels admirably stiff, and very little precision has been lost to the steering and the general way in which the car responds to inputs. Wind noise and buffeting are more than acceptable, and once I’ve adopted the ‘Lambo driving position’, the Evo Spyder feels like a surprisingly amicable way of covering distances. The spring and damper rates are no different to those of the coupe, apparently, but the significantly greater mass of the Spyder (it’s up 120kg) has no detrimental effect on the ride, rather it’s an improvement over the coupe’s.
It’s important to stress, though, that the Evo Spyder is not all about the noise: beneath the theatrics this is still a seriously rapid car, losing only two-tenths to the coupe on its way from 0-100km/h in just 3.1sec. In Strada the motor pulls from nowhere with the brutal buzz of a large helicopter approaching or, flaps open, like being trapped in the dyno room without ear defenders at Renault Sport as it developed the original 3.5-litre V10 Formula 1 engine in the late ’80s. It is a colossal noise, infinitely variable in tone and texture, and its wail past 8000rpm like conjoined Ur-Quattro ‘fives’ running at double speed leaves me speechless. I just can’t help thinking that sooner or later some mandarin in Brussels is going to have their morning espresso spilt by the sudden bark of a Huracán on the street below, and will subsequently mount a crusade against the practice of unsilenced supercar exhausts.
At a substantial 1542kg dry (so in the region of 1650kg with fluids), the Spyder is a truly hefty beast, but it counters with a raft of new tech on the Evo model. Like the coupe, it’s initialism and acronym bingo, with LDVI, LPI, LDS and that ANIMA. Basically, there’s a powerful electronic brain that integrates a wide range of dynamic features, some of them essentially predictive, with the objective of tailoring the car to the road and driver’s preference. And while it’s sabotaged in my view by not having an Ego mode, there’s no doubt that the combination of second-gen adaptive damping, torque vectoring and (seamlessly integrated) rear-wheel steering give it an athleticism that’s a pleasant surprise. The way you can twirl the wheel at parking speeds thanks to the dynamic steering reminds me of an old Fiat Punto with the City button pressed, but at speed it’s faithful, even if the dearth of genuine feedback makes it hard to trust the front end on a wet road. Having said that, the Evo isn’t a flamboyant, slidey sort of machine anyway, and when the rear does break traction you can quickly feel drive to the front axle trying to pull the car straight.
It’s an evening when the weather just doesn’t know what to do. There’s more rain, then blue sky, a hint of a rainbow in one direction and clouds as black as scorched Pirelli P Zeros in the other. A temperature of 15deg C requires the heater to be on, but when the droplets fall, the slipstream whisks them away over my head. The road unfurls before me, this Huracán so sure-footed, me hunched over the wheel like Tazio Nuvolari trying to manhandle an Auto Union around the Nürburgring, grinning so much my face aches as the last light fades, an outrageous quadraphonic chorus effect chiming in every time we pass by high walls or under bridges.
It’s only later, having ungraciously climbed out, do I realise that sub-aqua kitchens, looming deadlines and reams of copy to write haven’t featured once in my thinking. And I think that’s all the Huracán Evo Spyder needed to achieve – all it ever needs to accomplish to justify its existence. Because in the end I couldn’t care less what lap time it could do at the Nürburgring, or how much it weighs, or whether there are those who will typecast its driver. The Huracán Evo Spyder is just a joyous vehicle for driving purely for the sake of driving: a glorious wedge of escapism that if we’re brutally honest, probably won’t be possible for much longer.
So while I think the Evo Spyder is a good car, but not perhaps a great one, I do feel it’s a great Lamborghini, and I’m very glad that we still – just – live in a world where the Italian supercar dream can still be realised in all its appropriate pomp. Moreover, undoubtedly, Arancio Xanto is worth every last penny.
By: ADAM TOWLER
Photography: ASTON PARROTT
Lamborghini Huracán Evo Spyder
Engine V10, 5204cc
Power 471kW @ 8000rpm
Torque 600Nm @ 6500rpm
Weight (dry) 1542kg
Power-to-weight (dry) 305kW/tonne
Top speed 325km/h
Basic price $505,385