Road test: Lamborghini Performante LP570-4 and the Superleggera LP570-4

IN THE bright green corner, the Lamborghini Superleggera LP570-4 Coupe – a snarling, strutting display of Italian muscle that has come down a weight division and is ready to fight anything daft enough to cross its path.

In the, err… other bright green corner, the Lamborghini Performante LP570-4 – a snarling, strutting display of Italian yada-yada so on and so forth. I’m sure you get the idea. It can do everything its Coupe sibling can, but with one extra party trick – it loves to take its top off.

Bring the two of them together for one wild weekend and you get a two-car tussle that renders everything else on the road irrelevant. Indeed, this assault on the senses dominates the league table of head-turning things by such a massive margin that Angelina Jolie’s right thigh and Pippa Middleton’s arse might as well pack up and go home.

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If you want to be the centre of attention, if you want the moon and stars to orbit around you, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve bagsied the Performante. I’ve driven the Superleggera before and, because I’m one of the millions who suffer from being six foot two or taller, the crick in my neck and curious flat spot in my scalp where my head pressed against the roof were still there long after I’d returned the car to the dealership. Driving al fresco will give me the chance to stretch out and enjoy Superleggera-style performance and sound, without having to visit the chiropractor at half-hourly intervals.

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It’s not long before I reckon I’ve got the better half of the deal. About 3.9 seconds, in fact, which is all the time the car needs to get to 60. The standard car, if you can call a 560bhp wedge of lime “standard”, is sensational, delivering a hammer blow to the solar plexus and a treat to the ears every time the drilled alloy accelerator is tickled, but its chopped-top twin does it so much louder. Roof off, it’s like having a ringside seat for the birth of the universe as the 5.2-litre V10 beats its chest.

Remember the Audi Quattro that ruled the rallying world in the 1980s? Remember the way Finnish forests resonated to the off-beat wail of its five-cylinder engine? Well, I’ve got two of them in my car, joined at the hip and sitting a foot from the back of my head, covered only by a sheet of sculpted bodywork. I’d describe the din as “epic” but that’s not epic enough.

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I’ll give you some figures while I pause for breath. Both cars develop 570ps, which equates to about 560bhp in British. Both have four-wheel drive – but don’t think that will keep you on the straight and narrow on a greasy road. Rich in carbon fibre, the Superleggera (Italian for super light) tips the scales at a featherweight 1340kg. The Performante is a touch heavier, its folding roof and internal strengthening adding 145 kilos. Still, it’s hardly what you’d call lardy.

The result of all this is that, in Lamborghini land, everything happens much, much quicker than in the real world. Your heart races before you’ve even turned the key, and threatens to pop out of your chest when you fire up the engine. Get going and the horizon rushes towards you at a speed only fighter pilots should witness, and corners happen in the blink of an eye.

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You’ll also make lots of new friends – at the petrol station, at the traffic lights, outside Tesco. People want to stop and talk. Men, boys, women, girls beg to see, to touch the alcantara-swathed interior, to take photos, to take the keys. “How much, how fast, how come you’re driving them?! Are yous fae Top Gear?”

Weird, then, that almost nobody finds either car particularly handsome. Awesome, yes; heart-stopping, certainly. But pretty? Nossignore! If I had a quid for every time someone said something like “they’re not as elegant as a Ferrari”, I’d be on my way to buying both cars by now. One observer even described the Superleggera as “f***ing ugly”. Not a complaint, you understand, more of an observation, as he strode towards it, tongue almost touching the ground. The Lambo couldn’t care less about what he thought, and dismissed him with a snarl from its tailpipes. I swear it would have shrugged its bright green haunches if it could.

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So, which one? Coupe or convertible? If you’re tall, there’s only one choice, and you’ll only get to drive it when the sun shines. If you’re the size of the slender-hipped Italians that build these cars, you face a difficult choice.

Scotsman Motoring would like to thank the staff of Dundas Castle, South Queensferry, for letting the Lamborghinis loose in their grounds.

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CAR: Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera LP570-4 and Performante LP570-4

PRICE: From £184,000/£188,400, but if you have to ask...

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PERFORMANCE: Max speed 202/201mph; 0-60mph 3.5s/3.9s

MPG 21: (combined) EMISSIONS 319/350g per km