During Monterey Car Week, all sorts of fancy and unique cars come out to play. Limited edition Ferraris, pristine classics and ultra exclusive boutique luxury cars are as common here as taxi cabs in New York.
Engine: 5.2-liter V10
Power: 610 hp, 413 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch
0-62 MPH: 3.4 seconds
0-124MPH: 10.2 seconds
Dry Weight: 3,399 lbs
US Price: Starts at $199,800, $287,225 as-tested
It’s the kind of scene that can make you numb to “normal” exotics, but fortunately, I was given a nice adrenaline shot in the form of a 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 Spyder.
The Huracán is the least expensive, most accessible car in the Lamborghini lineup. As a huge part in the automaker’s strategy to increase sales, it starts at around $200,000 for the less powerful, rear-wheel drive LP 580-2. Our Huracán Spyder managed to ring in at $287,225 and had a number of important features including the $3,200 navigation package (because I was in unfamiliar parts of Carmel Valley), the carbon ceramic brakes (a car this fast needs excellent, consistent brakes), the $6,900 lifting kit, and $3,900 rear view camera and parking system (because you don’t want to scratch this Italian beauty on any speed bumps). It also includes Apple Car Play.
In the world of exotics where every unnecessary button, detail or feature adds weight and detracts from the “pure” driving experience of a car, these items are luxuries, but are much-needed, as even a Chevrolet Spark can arrive with a standard smartphone-powered navigation system and reversing camera. The Lamborghini feels worth its price in terms of amenities.
And, yes, including these features is something Lamborghini buyers actually appreciate. When the Huracán was introduced, the brand crested 3,000 sales across its lineup for the first time. When the long-awaited Urus SUV arrives, it will surely bump that number up even further.
But for buyers of the Huracán Spyder, they won’t be relegated to some watered down Lamborghini experience. This is still the real deal, an exciting pure-bred beast of a car that left a grin painted on my face for days after I returned the keys.
Drop-dead Gorgeous Droptop
Give credit to the styling and design of the LP610-4 Spyder — a car that, while we stopped for photos and videos at a scenic outlook, caused motorists to double back and get a closer look at the car, rather than the scenery. While the Huracán is a looker, it’s even more interesting to look at with the roof down, like a fighter jet with the canopy retracted. The soft top, which was dark cherry red, barely saw the sunlight while we were driving, but it did elicit “oohs” and “aahs” as the Huracán did its best Transformer impression. The roof disappears in 17 seconds, accompanied by a symphony of mechanical whirrs. A soft top helps keep the weight low, as a hardtop convertible would add too much weight.
While the roof is tucked away, you may worry that wind noise would be a concern, but all those angles and the low-slung body of this exotic helps deflect wind nicely. A small window behind the seats can be opened or closed to act like a windshield (when up) or let you hear the car’s 5.2-liter V10 engine better.
The Beast Within
Trust me, you’ll want to hear it as often as you can. It sounds brilliant, and each press of the throttle rewards you with a beautiful growl you’ll want to hear again and again. The engine is a sweetheart, although describing a 5.2-liter V10 engine with 610 horsepower in that way doesn’t seem to do it justice. The power delivery is smooth and instant, which is much appreciated in this world of peaky, laggy turbocharged engines. The ability to eke out so much power from this engine is impressive, too, with the 610 horsepower busting the 100 hp per liter benchmark. Does it need more? I wouldn’t know what to do with more power, unless I had a big track all to myself. Sixty miles per hour arrives in 3.4 seconds and the car features a top speed of 201 mph, which I didn’t dare test on the public roads.
And why would I? This is a responsible engine now, with cylinder deactivation and start-stop to bring emissions down. But, of course, unless you have some monk-like discipline, you’ll frequently find yourself blasting from a stop or dropping a gear or two to hear this car roar at full tilt.
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Gear changes will overload your senses, too. The snappy dual-clutch transmission can swap cogs so quickly and won’t upset the car, even in the middle of a turn. And at slow speeds, the transmission is settled and refined in the way you want. There’s no bucking or vague throttle tip in. Just like how Apple used to promote its wares, it just works.
Paired to the engine and transmission is an all-wheel-drive system, one that can send 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels or up to 50 percent to the front as needed. Balance is key with a mid-engined car like this, and there were only a few times where I didn’t feel confident in the grip of the Huracán. With a light front end, understeer is a minimal concern, although the all-wheel-drive system does its best to maintain grip. Three different driving modes are available to switch between: Strada (street), Sport and Corsa (track.) They adjust the exhaust tone, engine response, transmission shift feel, all-wheel-drive system and traction control.
Low Slung, Low Weight
Weight is kept in check, with the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 Spyder tipping the scales at 3,399 lbs (dry). The weight is distributed 43/57 front-to-rear, which makes sense, considering where that big engine sits. The architecture surrounding the driver and passenger is made up of aluminum and carbon fiber, while most of the body utilizes aluminum. Despite all that low-weight material, the Huracán Spyder is 40 percent stiffer than its predecessor, the Gallardo Spyder.
Rigidity is a key impression left by the car — although it’s to be expected, the Huracán Spyder was noticeably stiff. The aluminum double wishbone suspension found at all four corners of the car isn’t adjustable. I had no complaints with the steering of the car, but an optional dynamic steering system is offered that includes a variable steering ratio and magnetic dampers.
Aerodynamics do more than just help with wind buffeting, as a smooth underside, a rear defuser and fixed spoiler helps the Huracán Spyder cut through the air with minimal air resistance and maximum downforce. This car has 50 percent more downforce than the outgoing Gallardo Spyder.
The interior is where the Lamborghini experience wanes a bit. It’s still cool, but doesn’t feel as raw and exciting as the rest of the car. A high-tech display greets the driver and is clearly inspired by what’s found in the Audi R8, down to the similar rotary knob to control the infotainment system. The seats are a little shallow, and not overly supportive — if you’ve been in a car with production Recaro seats, the Huracán Spyder is a slight step down from that in terms of keeping you in the center of your seat.
Besides those quibbles, the interior is full of great details. Everything feels like an experience. To fire up the car, you flip open a safety latch first, and then press the push button ignition. To initiate reverse, you pull on another lever. To put the car in drive, you pull the right paddle. It’s small things like these that make the car feel more engaging than just pulling a gear stick and going on your way.
I also loved the two-tone black and red interior. I usually roll my eyes at bright interiors in other cars, but here is where they belong, in exotic, eye catching supercars — not hum-drum entry-level German sport sedans.
The Verdict: 2016 Lamborghini LP 610-4 Spyder Review
My overall drive through Carmel Valley was a blast thanks to the Huracán Spyder. Yes, I was suffering from the exotic car fatigue that plagues Monterey Car Week attendees, but the Huracán LP 610-4 Spyder helped push me back into the real world; a mindset that, yes cars like this, even the “affordable” supercars are awesome works of art.