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Lamborghini Gallardo 2010 Review

Life with a Lamborghini is like having something alien and alive under your skin. Every move it makes is felt in your body. Its exhaust and engine noises shout and bark and roar in your ears like getting nagged on a bad day by the mother-in-law of your nightmares.

Through a layer of Alcantara, there are subtle vibrations from the steering wheel and seat that tingles the fingertips and your butt. A variation on a Thai massage. Vision is blurry because the vehicle picks up speed and changes direction at a pace that initially shocks the brain. Think absinthe in a pint glass.

Then there's the squashing. First the car's acceleration will crush you in the seat and then the corners will press against your hips and head, pulling your arms to be free of the steering wheel and your legs off the pedals. World Wrestling Entertainment in your bedroom.

VALUE

You've got to be kidding.

TECHNOLOGY

Technology costs. This is about $550,000 to buy and register so you get lots of carbon fibre(body and cabin), aluminium (chassis and body), Alcantara and leather (cabin) and forged alloy (wheels). The V10 engine now has direct-petrol injection for an instant hit. Fuel consumption is decreased, now 13.5 litres/100km average down from 17 l/100km.

The 5.2-litre V10 pushes 419kW at a glorious 8000rpm and torque of 540Nm at 6500rpm. The extra 7kW over the LP560-4 is achieved primarily by remapping the engine management system.

The six-speed automated manual e-gear transmission is now improved. Which is like saying being run over by a truck is much better today than 20 years ago thanks to advancements in tyre design. The original e-gear fitted to the Murcielago was a harsh and jerky affair that made you look bad in front of your mates. The new one is much smoother. The LP570-4's e-gear is operated only by the steering wheel paddles - but of more interest is the choice of full automatic, Sport and Corsa.

Basically, the auto is for getting to the shops, Sport is for making it to work on time and Corsa is there to put a big grin on your face on the way home.

The all-wheel drive uses a central viscous coupling and a 45 per cent rear LSD. Normally, power is channelled at the ratio of 30:70 front to rear and hit the ground via Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres - 235/35ZR19 at the front and 295/30ZR19 at the rear - mounted on forged alloy wheels with titanium bolts.

The wheels save a total of 13kg over the LP560-4. Every gram helps.

The chassis is aluminium spaceframe with an aluminium and carbon fibre skin. In comparison with the LP560-4, only a liberal use of carbon fibre in the cabin shows the Superleggera has been designed to shave weight in order to get there faster.

Carbon fibre is also used for the engine cover, bumper panels, spoilers and wing mirror housings. The rear spoiler, which is the easiest way of identifying the Superleggera, is actually a $15,000 option. All of the four cars already sold in Perth have this carbon-fibre wing.

Carbon fibre is important in creating this coupe's character. The material is responsible for 40kg of the 70kg weight saving. The seats are covered in lightweight Alcantara instead of leather, however the car retains airconditioning and electric windows. The rear window and side glass are made of polycarbonate, as is the window over the engine bay.

DRIVING

The LP570-4 is making animal noises as it brakes and pitches and accelerates around the Wanneroo V8 Supercar circuit. Fresh from Italy and unlicensed for the road, the Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera enjoys stretching its legs after such a long plane flight and revels in the warm air and empty track.

At 1340kg, the Superleggera - simply, lightweight - is 70kg lighter than the LP560-4 coupe on which it is based and is the lightest road-going model in Lamborghini's range. Light is quick is economical is (more) environmentally friendly.

It has a 0-100km/h time of 3.4 seconds and clearly - and unashamedly - is designed to match the Ferrari 455 in acceleration. More startling, however, is its 0-200km/h blast of 10.2 seconds and its top of 325km/h.

All this technical data goes out the polycarbonate window, replaced with the need to concentrate so hard to ensure it tracks neat and smooth around the circuit. Thanks to the e-gear automated manual, it's not particularly hard to drive. But it is particularly hard to perfect the corners while getting used to its width and the razor-sharp response of the engine.

Start the circuit in the transmission's "automatic" mode, build confidence and switch on the run to Sport, and then, a lap later, press the centre console's Corsa button. Which is like riding a feral beast and then stabbing in the neck. Pull on the right-hand steering wheel paddle and the car jumps sharply, the next cog rammed in and the engine howl drops an octave or two.

Up two more for the straight, down one, then two for the right-hander. The ratios plunge instantly and the tail gives a little squirm, the steering wheel turns slightly and the back settles for the corner. It seems to know what to do and even pretends to become friendly.

If it didn't cost half a million dollars and didn't have the fuse-lit explosion of 419kW hanging over the driver's head, it could be a fun car. Which is why - unlike many of its peers - you can flick the Gallardo's engine mapping switch back to automatic mode and, literally, go shopping.

Lamborghini last year has a similar track day when the limited-edition two-wheel drive Valentino Balboni model, plus a LP560-4, came to Perth.

I was more enthusiastic about the Balboni, with the 40kg weight saving of the front drive mechanicals creating a coupe that boasted lighter and more responsive steering and far less understeer than the all-wheel drive model.

Despite sharing drivetrains, the Superleggera's weight loss has removed that hint of understeer and made it feel as nimble, confident and as easy to drive as the Balboni. Plus, of course, it has all-wheel drive for particularly slippery conditions.

OTHER MODELS

Also shown on the track day - but not driven - is the LP550-2, the car that evolved from the limited edition Valentino Balboni car that celebrated its former works driver with a lightweight, rear-drive chassis. It is identical to the 250 Balboni cars save for the lack of the trademark centre-body stripe and identification badges.

The LP550-2 weighs 1380kg, runs 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds to top 320km/h, has 405kW and 540Nm and averages 13.3 l/100km. It's also about $140,000 cheaper. Lamborghini sells four Gallardo models in Australia - LP560-4 coupe and Spyder; new LP370-4 Superleggera; and the LP550-2.

The Murcielago has stopped production and its replacement, the sub-3 second 0-100km/h Jota, is expected early next year.

PRICING

The Superleggera is $541,500 (add $27,204 for e-gear) and the LP550-2 is $399,990.

VERDICT

Lousy visibility in traffic and a price tag Olympic/Commonwealth gold medallist Steve Hooker couldn't pole vault over fail to dent the allure of its tremendous performance.

LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO LP570-4 SUPERLEGGERA

Origin: Italy
Price: from $541,500
Engine: 5.2-litre, V10
Power: 419kW @ 8000rpm
Torque: 540Nm @ 6500rpm
0-100km/h: 3.4 seconds
Top speed: 325km/h
Fuel: Premium unleaded
Fuel tank: 90 litres
Economy (official): 13.5 litres/100km
Greenhouse: 319g/km (Corolla: 175g/km)
Transmission: 6-speed e-gear automated manual, sequential, paddle shifters; constant 4WD
Brakes: 4-wheel vented discs, 8/4-pot front/rear calipers
Suspension: Front/rear _ double wishbones, coils
Wheels: 19-inch alloy
Tyres: Front  235/35ZR19; Rear  295/30ZR19; no spare
Length: 4386mm
Width: 1900mm
Height: 1165mm
Wheelbase: 2560mm
Weight: 1340kg

Pricing Guides

$147,125
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$103,180
Highest Price
$191,070

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Spyder 5.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $141,020 – 162,030 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo 2010 Spyder Pricing and Specs
LP550-2 5.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $103,180 – 118,580 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo 2010 LP550-2 Pricing and Specs
LP550-2 Balboni 5.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $137,280 – 157,740 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo 2010 LP550-2 Balboni Pricing and Specs
LP560-4 5.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $127,710 – 146,850 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo 2010 LP560-4 Pricing and Specs
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist

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