Look at me, dammit! At 3,460 pounds, the Spyder is about 250 pounds heavier than the coupe — but it still does zero to 60 in 4 seconds. By Karl Brauer Date posted: 04-27-2006 520 horsepower - All-wheel drive - Zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds - Top stows in 20 clicks "That's what I love about L.A. — the theater of it all." This was my wife's response after I called her from Rodeo Drive while behind the wheel of a Balloon White 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. And don't ask us how Lamborghini came up with "Balloon White." We could have gone with "Pearl White" or "Acropolis White." Heck, even "Miami Vice White" would have worked for us. Regardless of its name, the color — along with the Gallardo's creased angles, sparkling 19-inch wheels and F1-like exhaust wail — effectively captured the attention of every Rodeo Drive patron on this sunny spring afternoon. "But, honey," I insisted, while ignoring her "theater" comment, "There are girls that look like supermodels glancing my way." "Sure, Karl. They're supermodels just like you're a Lamborghini Gallardo owner with a valid reason to visit Rodeo Drive." A mobile road show where you're the star The 19-inch silver Callisto wheels are wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber, with 235/35s up front and 295/30s in back. She was right, of course. Road-testing a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder is akin to piloting your own chorus line. To say people gawk at this exotic sports car, regardless of who is behind the steering wheel, is like saying Bush's foreign policy has stirred up some controversy. We'd previously thought the Ford GT and Ferrari F430 Spider were capable of causing neck injuries in bystanders, but the Lamborghini eclipses them both in terms of skull-rotations-per-mile. Rigid in all the right places Six hydraulic pumps coordinate the carbon-fiber rear deck and fabric top to transform the Gallardo into an open-air sports car in about 20 seconds. As with the Gallardo SE we reviewed a few months ago, the Spyder features a 5.0-liter V10 capable of producing 520 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Both versions can hotfoot it to 60 mph in a shade over 4 seconds, thanks in part to lower gear ratios (compared to last year's Gallardo) in the first five of the "e.gear" transmission's six speeds. Despite these lower ratios, throttle response remains a bit lackadaisical at speeds below 15 mph, though hitting the "Sport" button on the center console partially resolves this. Braking ability also maintains the high expectations set by the coupe, with a 60-to-0 stopping distance of 104 feet. Initial pedal feel can be a bit heavy, but once those eight-pot front calipers clamp down on the 14.3-inch Brembo vented rotors, this baby bull stops right now. These numbers are particularly impressive when considering the roughly 250-pound weight gain for the Spyder over the coupe. One would hope a couple hundred pounds' worth of structural reinforcement would pay off in terms of platform rigidity. In the case of the Gallardo Spyder, one hopes not in vain. It took only a few minutes of aggressive driving along our favorite twisty — and bumpy — stretch of tarmac to confirm the Lambo's unyielding integrity. Riding on a four-wheel independent, double-wishbone suspension, it is evident that the engineers in Sant'Agata have tuned the Spyder's underpinnings for "maximum cornering thrill." Its confidence and composure over all but the most severe pavement ripples soon had us flinging the nubile exotic through twists, turns and dips like a willing partner in the season finale of Dancing with the Stars. Feast for the eyes, gluttony for the ears With a rear window that can be raised or lowered independently of the roof, you can go for maximum ventilation or minimal wind buffeting — even with the top down. But if there's a dark side to the Gallardo Spyder's expressive nature, it comes in the form of ambient noise. Anyone purchasing an Italian supercar for its subdued aural qualities is too clueless to deserve fine machinery of this nature, but the Spyder creates sound waves on a level even heavy metal addicts may find objectionable. We're not talking about the V10's howl after the two-stage exhaust valve snaps open around 4,000 rpm, or even the e.gear transmission's sharp "CRACK" when engaging the steering-wheel paddle shifters and ripping off gear swaps in 0.12 seconds (both noises are teetering on FDA certification as addictive narcotics). No, we're referring to the primal tire rumble that radiates up from behind the seats before bouncing through the cabin as passengers shout to be heard above the din. A raucous environment is expected in almost any open-air vehicle, but with the Gallardo the noise actually seems to get louder when the top goes up, as if the fabric roof serves as a low-tech amplifier. This is likely a nonissue for the majority of potential Spyder customers, but if you are thinking about a cross-country jaunt in an open-top exotic, one with the ability to settle the cabin's atmosphere by simply erecting the soft top, don't buy the Gallardo Spyder. Or do, and plan on bringing your noise-canceling headphones. Elements that might further hinder a long-distance affair with the Gallardo include the rather choppy ride — even by exotic car standards — and the limited exterior visibility. The Gallardo is actually quite compact at just under 170 inches between the bumpers, but with its hood and tail almost completely hidden from the driver's view there's little confidence during parking maneuvers. An optional rear camera somewhat addresses this concern, but our relatively loaded test car didn't have that particular feature. It may still be the perfect GT Cabin noise is high inside the Spyder, but so is the material quality and luxury content. However, strengthening the Gallardo's case as a Gran Turismo are advanced sound and navigation systems that put most exotic cars to shame, as well as an interior design befitting parent company Volkswagen AG. We'd still prefer a traditional tuning knob for the radio and the convenience of an in-dash CD changer (the Gallardo's changer is in the front storage area under the hood), but the Audi Multi-Media Interface is still the best of these "one dial fits all" systems. Add in the supple leather, bright metalwork and crisp, soothing gauge cluster lighting and the Gallardo's cabin is easily the most luxurious in the segment. Like any exotic, leave logic out From certain angles, the shape is almost comic-booklike in its extreme appearance — which is probably why so many people look at it. In fact, you could argue that the Gallardo justifies its $200,000-plus price tag by displaying one of the most striking exterior forms in automobiledom. Or you could argue that having a 0-to-60 time of just over 4 seconds, a top speed of 196 mph ("only" 192 when the top is down), and a superbly stiff open-top structure makes it a worthy candidate to replace that summer home you've been eyeing. Or you could decide that, with its sumptuous interior and all-wheel drive, the Gallardo Spyder represents a unique offering in the exotic-car world — one you must possess. Or, you could simply stop thinking, power the top down under its carbon-fiber cover, and see how many supermodel wannabes you can get to look at you. You already know what we did. What Works: Provides instant celebrity status, sounds like an F1 car, exhibits minimal body flex despite the missing roof. What Needs Work: Heavy steering and braking, somewhat squishy low-speed throttle response, a loud cabin — even by exotic convertible standards. Bottom Line: Four-wheeled eye candy for all but the dead or comatose.