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Having driven two 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo coupes extensively, both with e.gear, I had a pretty good idea what to expect with Club Sportiva’s 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder but I was looking forward to trying the manual transmission. Even with a high bar set, I was actually surprised at how well the car drove. For starters, as you walk up to the car, it is truly a stunning, aggressive and beautiful design. The upgraded Calisto rims are like artwork. I prefer coupes over convertibles, but even losing the roofline, the Spyder still looks stunning. You will get a lot of thumbs up and hoots while in the car, more so than in a red Ferrari because the Lamborghini Spyder lacks some of the assumed pretentious reputation of a Ferrari.

A couple things jumped out as improvements and surprises. First, the six-speed manual transmission is really incredible – it is smooth and easy to operate. While I had enjoyed the e.gear paddle shifted transmission on the Murcielago and the two Gallardos I have driven, the Lamborghini six-speed manual is a pleasure to drive. It is effortless, well balanced, with short throws and without the notchy, gritty-ness I feared. From the very first shift, there is no anxiety while rowing the gears. Blipping the throttle to match revs helps on down shifts certainly but up shifts too. The flywheel is so fast that revs drop quickly and a little spurt of the throttle helps smooth the clutch engagement while sounding glorious to boot.

The Ferrari and Maserati manual gearboxes require a little focus and attention and some patience. The Ferrari gearbox has historically been tough to shift from first to second while cold, even on the new F430, though greatly improved over previous V8s. The Gallardo manual doesn’t suffer from this. The Ferrari manual is also a bit finicky and requires some finesse as the shifter gnashes its way around the famous Ferrari gated shift pattern. The Lamborghini also uses a gated shift pattern but curiously doesn’t make the metal-on-metal gnashing sounds that so often happen on a Ferrari as the shifter’s shaft rubs the metal gate. A minor point, sure, but a pleasant surprise on the Lamborghini (they have evolved so much from the days of the Diablo and Countach). I suspect some Audi involvement has intervened here, but as long as the gearbox is perfect, that is what I want.

The stock 2007 Gallardo Spyder exhaust is more high-strung than the previous deep growling V10. The angrier exhaust note is welcomed and sounds better. From idle to redline, the note is more stirring than the previous Gallardo tune. As the revs climb, it really opens up to a wail at around 4,500 rpms and just gets better from there. It lacks the world renowned Ferrari shriek, as it should, or else it would be a copy cat. Lamborghini did a great job of enhancing the exhaust note while keeping it clearly distinguished from Ferrari. While driving around, you can’t help but goose the throttle over and over to hear the V10 bark. There is nothing better than being constantly reminded of the massive engine behind your shoulders than to hear the menacing exhaust note, regardless of your gear selection.

The acceleration and grip is phenomenal. Lamborghini goes with the AWD system that adds 300 pounds, but in exchange, it gives the car’s driver a sense of invincibility in the corners. With 520 hp (up from 500 hp), you want, make that need, to put the traction to the road and Lamborghini does that well. No scary, twitchy handling during most driving. However, when the rpms are over 5,000, the throttle is very sharp and responsive, allowing the slightest peddle input to have the maximum response. At idle and low speeds, this response is the opposite – the throttle is numb from a stop or at low speeds, which evidently helps prevent you from errantly launching the car into (and under) the vehicle directly in front of you.

The seats are a bit better too. While I will need a longer stretch behind the wheel of the Spyder, the 2004 Gallardo seats were quite uncomfortable after an hour, making longer trips less than ideal in an otherwise great car. I think a couple minor seat adjustments have resolved this. If not, there will be another post… The interior is great, with solid ergonomics and cool yellow stitching everywhere you look.

Over all, the Gallardo is a great exotic car and Club Sportiva’s Members have a thrill ride awaiting them. Sure, it costs $2,000 to have the side mirror replaced if you knock it loose, and maintenance is expensive, as are all exotics, but the Gallardo Spyder is an unforgettable drive with a magical charm you won’t be able to shake. I think I’m in love, again.