2010 Lamborghini Gallardo Expert Review:Autoblog
The explosive burble from the V10's exhaust coming off the back straight seems powerful enough to vaporize insects in mid-air. The Howitzer-like concussions shock through the firewall and slam into our spines an instant before the combustive dissonance has time to reverberate off the outside wall and into our eardrums. The menacing acoustics force the other cars on the circuit to back off, while trackside spectators crane their necks to look up and cheer as the Lamborghini rockets by.
We're at California Speedway attending the "The Ultimate Lamborghini Experience." This annual event allows owners to play with their exotics in a controlled environment free of driving citations and other pesky... um, slow cars. Since we don't own an Italian exotic, we have to thank Lamborghini of Beverly Hills for graciously bringing along the automaker's latest and greatest. In this case, it's the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera.
Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
Lamborghini has made thousands of Gallardos over the past eight years – it's the automaker's best-selling model. The various Gallardo iterations have included the all-wheel-drive Gallardo SE, matte black Gallardo Nera, topless Gallardo Spyder, lightweight Gallardo Superleggera, Gallardo LP 560-4, Gallardo LP 560-4 Spyder, Gallardo Super Trofeo and the recent limited-production rear-wheel-drive Gallardo 550-2 "Valentino Balboni."
All pale on a race circuit when compared to the all-new 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera.
Metamorphosing into the highest-performing Lamborghini Gallardo model to ever leave the assembly line in Sant'Agata Bolognese wasn't easy. Using a 560-4 as a base, Lamborghini painstakingly made dozens of changes to lighten the chassis, improve aerodynamics, refine the suspension and tune the ten-cylinder engine for more power. When it finally debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in early 2010, the newest Gallardo flagship was nothing short of spectacular.
At a glance, the 570-4 Superleggera is physically differentiated by its reworked front bumper with deep trapezoidal frames around the air intakes, a V-shaped nose and LED daytime running lamps. Lamborghini says the new fascia is functional, as it increases engine cooling and adds downforce to the front axle. The underbody, featuring a full belly pan, has new side sills, new tailpipes and a redesigned diffuser to improve aerodynamics. A small spoiler is standard, but a large wing for even more downforce is optional. There are new graphics on the sides and the ever-important identifying "LP 570-4" emblems in front of each rear wheel.
Under the paint, things are a bit more radical. As mentioned, the 570-4 Superleggera is based on the Gallardo 560-4 (itself a lightweight 3,108-pound platform). The new model retains aluminum spaceframe and body panels, but replaces many of the exterior components with lighter composite structures. Carbon fiber has been used on the rear spoiler, sills, diffuser, exterior mirror casings and underbody panels. Composites are also used extensively in the cabin. The center tunnel cover, door panels, transmission surround and sport seat shells are all carbon fiber (our model had an optional carbon fiber package that adds even more "lightness" to the cockpit). Even the "heavy" natural leather has been replaced by lightweight synthetic Alcantara. Still seeking to save more weight, Lamborghini fitted the 570-4 Superleggera with polycarbonate rear and side windows, and a polycarbonate panel over the engine. While the engineering team went seriously unhinged when it came to weight loss, the air conditioning and power windows were deliberately retained (one must not sacrifice comfort, says Lamborghini).
The aluminum double-wishbone suspension is left in place, but the shock absorbers are firmer, the anti-roll bars are stiffened and the mounting points have been reinforced. Standard brakes are huge iron rotors with aluminum calipers. However, our test car was fitted with Lambo's optional carbon-fiber ceramic brake package with 15-inch discs and six-piston calipers in the front, and four-piston units at the rear. The wheels are 10-spoke forged aluminum beauties secured by featherweight, but very strong, titanium wheel bolts. Special Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires are 235/35ZR19 in the front and 295/30ZR19 at the rear.
Mid-mounted in the 570-4 Superleggera is a direct-injected 5.2-liter V10. The engine features an aluminum crankcase, dry sump lubrication and a cylinder angle of 90 degrees (to help lower the center of gravity). With a compression ratio of 12.5:1, and several new engine software tweaks, the powerplant is now rated at 570 horsepower and 399 pound-feet of torque. The exhaust gasses go out quad pipes that are coated with a matte-black heat-resistant ceramic finish that keeps temps in check to avoid the lower panels from melting. The horsepower is sent through the automaker's six-speed single-clutch "e-gear" sequential automatic transmission connected to a permanent all-wheel-drive system, but if rowing your own is a requirement, a six-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option. The powertrain utilizes a central viscous coupling and a 45-percent limited-slip differential on the rear axle. Under normal conditions, the torque is split 30:70, although the bulk of the power is usually directed at the rear wheels.
Lamborghini says the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera will crack 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds. Even more astonishing is the fact that 0-124 mph falls in just 10.2 seconds, and this high-powered projectile won't run out of horsepower until it hits a tire disintegrating 202 mph.
Thanks to its very strict diet, the new "superlight" Gallardo is 154 pounds lighter than the Gallardo LP 560-4. That's right kids; the new Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera tips the scales at a mere 2,954 pounds, making it the lightest road-going model in the automaker's range. Lamborghini says there is no other model in its lineup that's as close to a true racecar.
And as you'd expect, none of this comes cheap. The base price of a 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera is $237,600 (plus $2,995 destination and $2,100 in gas-guzzler fees). With a window sticker in hand, our test vehicle was equipped with the following options: Anti-theft system ($800), Superleggera Rear Wing ($6,500), Carbon Ceramic Brakes with black calipers ($15,600), Multimedia/NAV ($3,250), Rear View Camera ($2,600), Superleggera Floor Mats ($750), Carbon Fiber Engine Bay ($4,235), Travel Package ($750) and the Interior Carbon Fiber Package ($4,150). Punched into our solar-powered $3 calculator, the as-tested price is $281,330 (plus tax). You just had to ask.
With that out of the way, it's time to get back down to the business of driving.
The LP 570-4 Superleggera is low – silly low. Standing next to it, with both arms down to our side, it barely comes up to our elbows. With an open-face helmet capping our dome, we drop our six-foot, two-inch frame into the Lamborghini's exquisitely detailed womb. Our rear is firmly planted in the buttery-smooth Alcantara-covered cushion, while the top of our flat-black helmet presses firmly against the Alcantara headliner – we're literally wedged in place (for the record, we fit much better when we take a spin sans helmet later in the day). With our vertical movement apparently secured, we snap the three-point belt firmly to restrain forward movement. There's very little room for our left foot, but since this particular LP 570-4 only has two pedals, it's not a problem for both of our feet to share the tunnel's limited real estate.
The layout of the cabin is familiar to the Gallardo faithful, but the appointments have been upgraded. Snug in the lightweight Lamborghini's cockpit, it takes restraint to not run your fingers over the glass-smooth carbon fiber center console, the suede-like synthetic on the dashboard or the cross-hatch finish on many of the switches. The craftsmanship is stellar. Do not wear driving gloves while piloting the LP 570-4, lest the palms miss out on one of the most exquisite part of the machine: the deliciously shaggy thick suede sport steering wheel.
A traditional key slots into the right side of the steering column. With a twist, the 5.2-liter V10 spins to life. The "e-gear" takes a bit of instruction, but that's why we have Davy Jones sitting in our passenger seat (the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, not the lead singer for the Monkees).
As mentioned, we are sharing the track today with "The Ultimate Lamborghini Experience." As a result, there are dozens of Lamborghinis (mostly Gallardo and Murcielago models) in the paddock waiting for their turn at the circuit. The organizers are kind enough to let us out before the masses.
Without hesitating further, we press the "S" button on the center console and pull the right column-mounted paddle back to engage first gear (there's an "R" button to the left of the wheel, but since we are in the hot pits at California Speedway, we only need to go forward). The 570-horsepower engine, sitting about a foot behind our ears, resonates smoothly as we rumble past the observers and make our way to the hot track.
Our first few laps are under yellow as the corner workers get into place. We are familiar with the "Roval" at Cal Speedway, but or path today is awkwardly restricted by bright orange cones mid-point on the banked oval to keep everyone's speed down. Wisely, we use the first five minutes orienting ourselves with the Lambo's basic mannerisms. Except for a lack of outward visibility, it seems surprisingly docile and easy to drive at low speeds.
Green flag up. Accelerator pedal down. Responding to our right foot, the sequential automatic abruptly drops a gear and a deep roar emanates from behind our backsides. We are pressed and molded into our seatbacks like warm Play-Doh as the tachometer spins towards its 8,500 rpm redline. The second-to-third upshift is harsh and not particularly quick when compared to the best dual-clutch gearboxes, but it keeps us pinned in our seat grinning ear-to-ear as our velocity increases.
No more than 20 seconds later, we run out of banked oval as Turn 1 starts to fill our windshield. Strong on the brakes and the speed bleeds much faster than we anticipate (the huge ceramic discs like very firm pressure – the feel of the pedal perfectly mimics a race car). The 90-degree left is easy, as we are now going too slowly. We need to increase velocity for the upcoming right so we get back on the throttle. Caught off guard by our right foot again, the e-gear drops abruptly down to second gear and the back wheels momentarily break loose under the sudden increase in torque. The LP 570-4 Superleggera squirms a few times, and then briefly drops a wheel into the grass as we input corrective steering. This requires serious concentration.
Fed up with the e-gear's abrupt "logic," we find manually shifting via paddles to be much more effective, even if they are small and a bit hard to find in the heat of battle. Downshifts are accompanied by a super-sexy ten-cylinder throttle blip that takes your breath away (the lightweight acrylic windows let all the right sensations in), while upshifts are instantly delivered on command. Thanks to a center of gravity that requires a spatula to get under, the LP 570-4 lacks anything even remotely resembling body roll. Corner transitions are completely flat and quite mechanical, but the Lamborghini gives very palpable and welcomed feedback through its controls. Nothing is artificially overboosted.
It takes about five laps before we are comfortable. By then, we think we've figured it out.
The LP 570-4 Superleggera prefers to go in hot and take advantage of its huge brakes to bleed speed just before turn-in. It rewards light throttle in the corners, to keep the rear wheels at the limit of their adhesion, then generous power in the exits to utilize cat-like all-wheel-drive grip to pull hard out of the corners. There is plenty of available power. Oversteer is just a quarter-inch of throttle travel away at nearly any velocity. This is bloody fun.
And 45 minutes later it's over. They pry the keys from our hands. We weep.
Back in the pits, two impressions have stuck. First, the lack of mass helps immeasurably during initial high-speed turn-in. Whistling past the start/finish line at 150+ mph, we needed to drop down to 60 mph and make a tricky off-camber turn to get through the cone "barricade." Nearly every car we've ever had on this track needs to be handled with kid gloves when shuffled at those speeds. If not, the back end continues in its original trajectory. Not so in the LP570-4 Superleggera. We could grab the brakes and initialize our turn without worrying that the rest of the machine wasn't going to follow. Credit its low mass, low center of gravity, sticky tires and a wide stance. Second, it drives much smaller than it appears. We've had big cars on road circuits that seem to swell up when flogged (the Dodge Viper and Challenger SRT8 come to mind). The Lamborghini seemed to shrink. While it's no Lotus Exige, the Lambo's girth never prevented us from putting the tires exactly where they needed to go.
Lamborghini owners will scoff at this, but we half-expected the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera to drive like an Audi R8 5.2 V10 (no hiding the truth that they are heavy DNA-sharing cousins). In fact, most cynics will say that you can put the aforementioned Audi in your driveway for $100,000 less with nearly the same performance. Not so fast. The Audi R8 is damn near perfect, but it's no Lamborghini. The 570-4 Superleggera is lighter (by a staggering 761 pounds), shorter in height (by 3.4 inches) and in length (by 1.9 inches). The R8 5.2 is also down 45 horsepower (costing the Audi two full seconds in a timed race to 124 mph against the Lamborghini).
In all fairness, the R8 5.2 is a trophy-toting beauty queen while the LP 570-4 is an international supermodel – but let's ignore the ocular comparisons for now. The Audi is amazingly easy to drive fast, and just as easy to drive slowly. The German is comfortable, roomy and well-mannered. The Lamborghini is harder to drive, but faster and more rewarding at speed. The Italian is impeccably finished, but raw by design. To be more concise: The Audi can waltz, but the Lamborghini grabs you and does an R-rated Rio tango.
The Audi doesn't really compete with the LP 570-4 Superleggera, nor does the Aston Martin DBS or Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, for that matter. However, the upcoming Porsche GT2 RS may put up a good fight. We didn't check with Animal Planet, but our current research says the only true natural enemy of the LP 570-4 Superleggera could be the stunning Ferrari 458 Italia. Owners need not worry, as this Lamborghini will most likely never cross paths with any worthy adversary.
The 570-4 Superleggera is unquestionably the most talented Lamborghini on the road today. Fusing a highly-tuned powerplant and a sophisticated drive system to a lightweight chassis is what real sports cars are all about. Unlike its predecessors that seemed to possess more panache than event-winning medals, the all-new 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera delivers astronomical performance that will not only land the coupe on the red carpet, but more often than not, on the top of the podium.
Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
Special thanks to Al & Ed's Autosound and Lamborghini Beverly Hills, co-sponsors of the Ultimate Lamborghini Experience, for inviting Autoblog to the event.
New Car Test Drive
Fast, exotic, and refined.
The Lamborghini Gallardo surprised us in a number of ways, but mostly in terms of its refinement and quality. The Gallardo is a bit intimidating initially, due to its radical styling, its dimensions, the sound of its highly tuned Italian V10, and advanced features such as its available E-gear electronic gearbox. But the Gallardo quickly became our friend and bonded as a teammate, more so than, say, a Viper or even a Corvette. Granted, it has a couple of quirks related to some of its most exotic performance options, but we were impressed with its drivability in traffic and by the ergonomic excellence of its interior. The more time we spent with the Gallardo, the more we came to love and enjoy it.
Climbing into the car, we were immediately reminded that Lamborghini is owned by Volkswagen and supervised by Audi. The cabin doesn't exude Audi or German engineering, but the interior is high quality and ergonomically well designed. The materials are handsome and well matched, everything fits together well, nothing rattles, all the controls were in logical, expected locations. Everywhere we looked in the cabin, we saw quality and elegant design. Initially put off, we even grew to like the hard, shiny, carbon fiber door trim in the Gallardo Superleggera.
Operating the Gallardo is intuitive, with a traditional ignition key and a traditional hand brake. Some of the latest luxury sedans from Germany are much harder to operate than the Gallardo. At the same time, the Gallardo benefits from the same sophisticated navigation, audio and climate system found in the latest Audi models. The controls are sophisticated yet elegant (meaning simple) and easy to operate.
Getting in and out is fairly easy. The seats are roomy and comfortable. Outward visibility is much better than expected. The cabin is quite phenomenal, really, and it makes the Gallardo a joy to drive on a frequent basis.
On the outside, the Gallardo benefits from Italian design. It looks exotic and flamboyant. A closer look reveals high-quality construction with body panels awash in quality paint that fit smartly and evenly.
Gallardo comes in coupe and roadster versions, plus a lighter, more powerful Superleggera model. We've only driven the latter, but two of us have driven two different cars in two locations, and came up with the same conclusions.
As expected, the Superleggera is lightning quick and blindingly fast. It grips the road so well that you'll likely work the tires only on a racing circuit. And it has fantastic braking capability. The acceleration performance is truly exhilarating and at full song in the Sport mode the E-gear changes gears like a race driver in anger. Yet, around town, in the automatic or normal manual modes, it shifts smoothly and is quite tractable at low speeds. It's not as docile as a Porsche 911 Turbo but nor is it a Viper.
The biggest driving challenge comes when it's time to park: The corners of the car are not visible, so we were happiest when a spotter was directing us in tight confines. Also, jockeying into a parking spot in tight confines is challenging because the E-gear transmission is depressing and releasing the clutch as you give it little jabs of throttle and the carbon-fiber brakes are grabby when cold. Familiarity and some special driving techniques help, but you may not want to toss the keys to just anyone to park it. Then again, why give the keys to anyone? For that matter, why ever park it?.
The 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo comes in Coupe ($186,250) and Spyder ($217,000) versions. The Superleggera ($222,800) comes only as a coupe.
Options for the Superleggera include a stationary rear wing instead of the standard articulated wing that rises and falls with the speed of the car. Also on the options list are eight-piston carbon disc brakes ($10,000), as well as a window net, fire extinguisher, and a bar for competition seat belts. The six-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option. Navigation and entertainment systems are available for the Gallardo, but not the Superleggera.
Safety features include seat-mounted side air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, and all-wheel drive.
All Lamborghini Gallardo models are built on an aluminum space frame, with aluminum extruded parts welded to cast aluminum joint sections, and an aluminum body structure with thermoplastic hang-on parts such as fenders and door skins.
From the outside, the Superleggera is nearly identical to the standard Gallardo coupe, with the exception of the Superleggera logo on the lower portion of the doors.
But the shape hides a whole menu of lightweight parts that come on the Superleggera, including a carbon fiber rear diffuser, carbon fiber outside mirror housings, a carbon fiber driveshaft, a polymer rear window and engine cover instead of glass, carbon fiber intake manifold, lightweight exhaust manifolds, forged aluminum wheels, and titanium wheel nuts, to make the car as light as possible.
Inside, the Superleggera has shiny gray carbon fiber door panels, a carbon fiber dashboard panel and carbon fiber console to save weight. The carbon fiber look is becoming a cliche, but the door panels are handsomely designed and fit well. Best of all, it's easy to clean: Simply wipe it off.
The seats in our Gallardo Superleggera were supportive and comfortable. Finished in alcantara with a small dash of body-colored trim, they are very attractive. The seats are equipped with seat-mounted side air bags and three-point seat belts.
The driver and passenger can reach all the audio, climate, window and other controls in the center of the dash quite easily and comfortably.
Audio and climate controls and the navigation system come from Audi. A seven-inch color screen in the center of the dash displays Audi's Multi-Media Interface, or MMI. A dial surrounded by four buttons are used to control most functions. This system gives the driver control over many functions without filling the dash with buttons. Audi's MMI features a shallower menu structure than BMW's iDrive, so you don't have to burrow as deeply through a maze of menus to get to the adjustment you want.
The climate controls are separate, however, and this is a good thing. Heating and air conditioning have more traditional controls mounted below the MMI controller. So you don't have to call up a menu to change the fan speed or cabin temperature. You simply press a button and twist a dial.
Between these two interfaces is a set of power window switches. This is the least ergonomic aspect of the cabin controls; you have to actually look at them to raise or lower the windows, less convenient than having the switches on the doors.
The sharply angled windshield and the deep dashboard give the feeling that you're sitting far back in the car, and you are, just ahead of the rear window and firewall that separate you physically but not aurally from that fire-breathing, V10 engine. We quickly adjusted to this.
Visibility is quite good all around, not as clear as the view from a Porsche 911 Turbo, but far better than that of traditional exotics. For example, we were alert when driving around LAX, one of the world's busiest airports, with shuttle vans, cabs and distracted motorists jostling into neighboring lanes in their efforts to pick people up, but we weren't terrified and would do it again. Big side mirrors offer a good rearward view. The rearview mirror offers a good view; the rear wing on the Superleggera blocks the view a little, and at night it can look like someone behind you is flashing their headlights as the wing obscures and reveals them when the cars bounce around.
The biggest issue with visibility comes with parking in tight quarters. The body work falls out of sight up front so it's difficult to judge where the corners of the car are located when pulling into a one-car garage. Fortunately, you are farther from the object than it appears. The Gallardo is wide, so you don't have a lot of space to work with. Exacerbating this are the touchy carbon-fiber brakes and an electronic gearbox depressing and releasing the clutch for a highly tuned V10. We found it very useful to have a spotter, though we were able to do it on our own. Sometimes it helped to push on both pedals at the same time, other times a light touch combined with experience with the E-gear was best. Familiarization with the throttle, E-gear and brakes quickly improved the situation. But it's not a car you want to drive in and out of tight places in a hurry or haphazardly nor is it one you allow someone inexperienced with it to park it.
Storage in the Gallardo is almost non-existent. There's no cubby storage to speak of. We discovered, however, that the trunk, in the very front of the car, holds a small, carry-on trolley bag, the size designed to fit in an overhead storage bin. So picking someone up at the airport is only viable if he.
To drive the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera is to drive one of the most exciting, powerful and capable sports cars in the world today. Lamborghini quotes a 0-62 mph time of 3.8 seconds, and a top speed just under 200 miles per hour.
The six-speed manual transmission is a very good transmission hobbled by a Sixties-style shifting gate built into the floor console, an anachronism that makes it difficult to shift cleanly and smoothly. Although we spent some time with the clunky-shifting 6-speed manual version, we spent most of our test drive time on the roads around Scottsdale, Arizona, and at Phoenix International Raceway with the much more attractive E-gear version.
The E-gear transmission is a combination of manual and automatic that is shifted up and down by paddles on the steering column (not to the steering wheel itself, so they don't move with the wheel). With the paddles and buttons used to control the transmission scattered about the cabin, it might not at first appear intuitive, but we quickly adjusted to it and found it easier to work than the electronic shifter on the BMW 7 Series sedans. To get Neutral, you pull back on both paddles at once. To drive in automatic mode, push the console-mounted button with a large A on it. To engage Reverse, touch the R button on the dashboard. Although the E-gear transmission can be clunky, too, especially as it downshifts into first before coming to a stop, it is a joy to use in performance driving situations, shifting in lightning-fast fashion under full throttle and blipping the throttle on downshifts to match engine rpm to road speed. This transmission, coupled to a 522-hp engine that doesn't run out of revs until 8000 rpm, makes for an exciting driving experience. We found the different modes useful, depending on whether we were cruising around town talking (Auto), cruising (Normal, shifting manually), or driving fast (Sport, shifting manually). The big blips when downshifting are addictive, and we found ourselves downshifting just to hear it. You need do nothing with your feet.
The thoroughly sorted-out racing-style suspension system on the five-year-old Gallardo works in concert with a front/rear weight distribution of 42/58 percent, the huge, sticky Pirelli P Zero Corse tires, the car's low center of gravity, and its viscous-coupling all-wheel-drive system to deliver acceleration, cornering and braking that few other cars on this planet can match. The viscous coupling can send up to 100 percent of the engine's torque to either the front or rear tires, but normally operates at 42 percent front-drive and 58 percent rear-drive for maximum performance on dry pavement.
At the same time, the steering is ultra-direct and quick, and the ride is reasonably plush and quiet, though it does crash pretty hard on rough pavement and potholes. In daily driving, it's actually quite pleasant, though we wouldn't drive a Gallardo with a cappuccino in one hand.
The stationary wing optional for the Superleggera is said to add more than 370 pounds of aerodynamic downforce to the rear of the car at high speeds. At night, however, it sometimes looked like cars behind were flashing their headlights at us as the wing obscured and revealed the headlight beams.
Braking performance, even without the $10,000 optional carbon ceramic brakes, is exceptional, with a 60-0 braking distance of only about 109 feet, and a powerful feel that will pull you right up against your seatbelts in a panic stop situation. The carbon brakes seem grabby and hard to modulate smoothly at low speeds, especially when cold, but when driven hard they were smooth, easy to modulate, and quite effective. The pedal softened a bit as they got hot on a winding hillclimb.
The Gallardo Superleggera quickly instills a huge degree of confidence in a good, experienced driver.
At the same time, the Gallardo Superleggera was comfortable in heavy traffic and when motoring around town at low speed.
We think the Lamborghini Gallardo was a very special sports car as it was, easy to drive, dramatic to look at, an all-around sexy beast. But with the advent of the Superleggera version, the Gallardo becomes even more exciting and more special. Only about 350 of these cars will be available worldwide, making them instant collector's items.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw drove the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera in Arizona; nctd.com editor Mitch McCullough drove the Superleggera pictured in Los Angeles.
Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe ($186,250); Spyder; ($217,000); Superleggera Coupe ($222,800).
Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy.
Options As Tested
carbon brakes ($10,000).
Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera coupe ($222,800).