2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder | road test

Posted on Nov 10, 2009 by

Can there be many carmakers that evoke a reaction like ?

Sure, Ferrari is universally popular, but Lamborghini goes a step beyond the Prancing Horse in terms of pure flamboyance and, some would say, lunacy.

The Gallardo is a prime example. Now six years old, its design hasn’t aged a bit – it’s still sharp, cutting and instantly recognisable, and still turns heads.

That’s because, to this reviewer’s mind, it looks awesome. The Spyder version, with its canvas folding roof, is every bit as crazy on the eye as its coupe sibling, and manages to convey dynamicism, exuberance and aggressiveness, roof up or roof down, even while standing still.

Step inside, however, and it’s a mixed bag. Keeping in mind that this is a car that costs 820,000AED, the quality of the cockpit is somewhat disappointing. Sure, everything is nicely laid out and the instrument binnacle looks classy, but the swathes of black plastic along the bottom on the outside of the gauges don’t look great.

The binnacle, dash and doors are covered in leather, as are the seats, which, by the way, are excellent and look very cool, with two little supports holding up the headrest on either side and Lamborghini badging etched in. They’re very supportive, fully electrically adjustable and  proper sports seats with big bolsters on the side to hold you in place.

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder
One major gripe is that some of the interior gear is lifted directly from Lamborghini’s parent company, Audi. It’s lifted straight from an A3 or an A4 and it doesn’t sit well. It’s even got the same red lighting as the Audi cars, which isn’t terribly impressive when you’re spending so much on an Italian .

There are some very odd choices of location for some of the controls. The wing mirror controls are right in the middle, where you’d expect to find a gear stick, and again is an Audi piece of kit. Then where you’d normally expect to find the lights or the mirror adjusters on a normal car, to the left of the steering column, is the button for reverse. The centre console, where the rest of the gearbox controls are, doesn’t seem particularly well screwed down and wobbles if you fiddle with the controls too vigorously. Additionally, on our test car, the windows made a horrendous squeaking noise when we put them up or down.

There are some nice touches in the cabin though. All the dials are marked in Italian – benzina, acqua, temp olio, press olio, batteria, etc. I’m not too keen on the big silver Lamborghini badge on the dash in front
of the passenger, however. Trust me, you don’t need reminding what kind of car you’re in.

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder This being the Spyder edition of the Gallardo, it has a retractable soft top, which is operated by a button on the centre console. It’s not the most graceful of ballets, it all seems a little haphazard in the way that all the components creep into place and there’s a couple of other features in the car that don’t feel quite as quality as they should be. Especially when you’re paying 80,000AED more than the coupe version of the same car.

Where the Gallardo Spyder makes up for these aesthetic displeasures is when you take it out on the road. Instantly, you don’t care about its shortcomings. Firstly, and most obviously, it sounds absolutely fantastic. I can’t think of another car, with the possible exception of the Maserati Granturismo S, that sounds as good as this at full chat. You turn the key to start it up and it barks loudly at you, settling into a raspy snarl that
sends shivers up your spine if you’re in any way petrolheaded.

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder
Despite that intimidating chorus though, you could use this car quite happily every day. It’s very easy to drive at low speeds – just stick it into auto and kick the go or stop pedals. It does have the turning circle of
a cruise liner, which can make parking and U-turns a bit tricky, and visibility is not great, especially with the roof up. Our car had an optional rear view camera on it, which I would have struggled without.

The gearbox is a six speed automatic, and if you want to shift cogs manually, then you’ll be using the paddles on the steering column. The transmission is very good – quick and, especially when you open the car up, really savage. It’ll really kick you in the back if you change up at full pelt at above 5,000 rpm. You really get a punch in the small of your back as it fires through the gears. Don’t think that this is a criticism – it’s exhilarating.

Three settings are available for the gearbox. A switches the gearbox into automatic, Sport makes everything a bit sportier, loosens up the throttle, gives you more noise and changes the automatic transmission configuration to take you higher up the rev range and loosens up the ESP a little. Corsa – Italian for Race – turns everything to psycho. You’ll have not much electronic reigns on the ESP and full belt blasting from the engine, which is a 5.2-litre V10 with 560bhp and is an absolute peach – it’s docile until around 5,000rpm, then it turns into a monster. An awesome monster, with intoxicating acceleration and a soundtrack to die for.

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder Driving related qualms? None, really. Other than the turning circle, the only problem I had while on the move is that because the cabin is so far forward in the car, the wheel well ingresses into the driver’s footwell, meaning that the foot rest for the left foot is right in front of you – where you’d normally expect to find it is full of wheel. There’s no stretching the left foot out, which could be uncomfortable on a long journey.

Also, it sits very low. If you live in a part of town with speedbumps, you need to be very, very careful. There’s a button on the dash that will lift the suspension to get you over such obstacles and that’s an absolute must because otherwise the front splitter will be torn off within minutes of you leaving the showroom.

If you’re a fan of sporty driving then you’ll get an almighty kick out of the Gallardo. It’s very aggressive when you want it to be, but around town, with the exception of trying to creep along at a very slow pace when you find yourself inadvertently lurching forward due to the light touch needed on the throttle, it’s very civilised. You could quite easily pop down the shops in it, although best not to buy too much as there’s no
traditional boot. Being mid-engined, the storage space is in the front and is not very big. At all. You could maybe fit a holdall in, but that would be it.

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder On the roads of Dubai, in the very short time we had the car, it’s difficult to get a detailed insight into the handling but around the roundabouts and corners we tried it on it holds the road very well, thanks to
those big, fat tyres and a four wheel drive system. The steering is pretty heavy and meaty. It’s not fantastic – my fingers were hardly alive with feedback – but there’s plenty there, you can feel everything that you need to feel to be comfortable and in control.

Although it does have a few home comforts – dual zone air conditioning, leather and a decent stereo – this is a full on proper sports car, a hollerin’ and whoopin’, madcap crazy Lamborghini. Even with sensible Audi providing the tech spec, you buy this car for its looks and its noise, overlooking all faults. And if you have the cash, we recommend you head to the dealer now.

2009 LP560-4 Spyder

Price (AED): From 820,000
Engine: 5.2-litre V10
Max power (bhp/rpm): 560/8,000
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 540/6,500
Transmission: Six-speed manual/six-speed automatic (as tested)
Standard safety features: ABS, ESC, ASR, ABD, front and side airbags


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