The mission statement for the newest member of the Lamborghini family is simple.

The Gallardo LP560-4 is tasked with making the Italian exotic maker the most desirable super sports brand in the world, a big job, because Lamborghini has always struggled to be as credible or as fashionable as near-neighbour Ferrari.

Explore the 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Range

Lamborghini's LP560-4 – the name stands for for Longitudinal Position, 560-horsepower, four-wheel-drive – is a heavily revised remake of the original `Little Bull' that has been around since 2003 and has become the most successful Lambo model in history with 7100 sold.

Market and Pricing

The plan is to give the substance to support its neck-snapping extreme designs and to lift sales 5 per cent on the 2046 result of last year.

“We want to become the most desirable super sports car brand in the world – the most profitable and, for our employees, the best place to work,” Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann says.

“A Lamborghini is not something you need to have, it is something you want to have.”

The new Gallardo has gone ahead in all the right places and is lighter, faster, kinder on the environment and more pedestrian-friendly.

There are significant gains for a coupe, which will cost $455,000 in Australia, where 15-20 cars from next year's production batch of 1000 will be sold.

Engine

The V10 engine has been redesigned by Lamborghini and it has increased capacity – up from 5.0-litres to 5.2-litres – and a higher compression ratio for a rise in power from 382kW to 422kW and a flatter torque curve that improves driveability across all engine speeds.

Against the clock the new baby Lambo arrows to 100km/h in 3.7sec (.4sec quicker than the previous model), has a maximum velocity of 325km/h (up 10km/h) and has shed 20kg to sit at a 1410kg kerb weight.

Countering all of this testosterone-driven performance is the huge 18 per cent reduction in emissions, with C02 at 327g/km, a figure for the E-gear transmission fitted to 90 per cent of cars.

All-Wheel-Drive

A lot of work has been done on optimising the updated engine with the Audi-issue all-wheel-drive layout, where a mechanical differential at the rear allows 45 per cent limited slip with a front electronic diff lock.

Suspension

The suspension front and rear has been redesigned. It has fresh springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. And an added tie-rod at the rear is said to help provide the fastest set-up.

Body changes include a reshaped front-end, larger side air intake scoops, and a crisp, clean rear with new striking tail lights above a black-mesh air outlet with four tailpipes harnessed in a tough-looking rear diffuser.

On The Road

The newest Lamborghini is a flawed genius.

There are few other ways to describe this exotic, two-seat, mid-engined monster with its deeper-breathing V10 engine.

The press preview drive in Las Vegas revealed cars that got hot too easily and with a nervous feel in the rear end – not good for a car of this price and position.

The new Gallardo is an exercise in controlled evolution, since the original “Baby Bull” helped fire the unprecedented Lamborghini sales spurt since joining the bigger, badder Murcielago.

It was unleashed at the Las Vegas Speedway, first on the Nascar oval, then the twisting infield course, before a run on desert roads leading to monstrous Lake Mead.

At the track you would think the LP560-4 would stick like a slotcar, but there at times it was a little hesitant in the rear.

This was repeated on the highway when cornering at a gentle 80km/h.

Lamborghini says its new rear suspension is the best way to get the car to turn, but the compromise is this little rear-end moment.

If you lift off the throttle or brake or shift gears the rear-end feels like it wants to walk around.

There is never any suggestion it wants to swap ends but it is a flaw that has been dictated by the stopwatch rather than ironing out a stability glitch that should not be there.

On the overheating front, it took only five laps behind a Lamborghini test driver for some of the Gallardos to drop maximum revs from 8000 to 6000.

The company says the cars ran too close to those in front and were not getting enough air circulating through the enlarged side scoops.

Still, the cars were set for serious track time. They had sports suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes and 19-inch Pirelli P-Zero rubber, with a double compound and 10 per cent less rolling resistance up to 80km/h.

The good news about Gallardo II is that steering is communicative, brake pedal feel is superbly modulated and the E-gear transmission is well hooked up to the engine.

But judging by a right-hand drive display car, the cabin is compromised. The US driving was in left-hand drive cars, but the display unit showed a squared-off wheel arch that intrudes into available foot space. Pedals are offset to the left but the steering wheel remains in the right place.

So you will constantly brush your right foot against the wheel arch intrusion when applying the throttle.

Inside, the partnership with Audi is showing tangible signs of taking Lamborghini to new levels of quality. A blend of Audi and Bentley touches show in the gear and instruments.

The Lamborghini is a slick weapon, but it will not out-run a Porsche 911 GT3 on any point-to-point run. It is also debatable if it is worth $200,000 more than the Audi R8 two-seater.