Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Superb Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera
With the majority of its power going to the rear wheels, powersliding the Gallardo is just a matter of having a heavy foot and the stability control turned off.
You may have heard of the Lamborghini Gallardo. It's been around since 2003, got a refresh in 2009 and has had no fewer than seven different variants along the way.
The latest version is called the Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, and if you have your little supercar decoder wheel handy you already know that the name means this Gallardo has more power and less weight than the standard model.
But there's more to the latest Lamborghini than a few extra horsepower and its lack of a radio. Here are a few things you might not know.
It'll Punch You in the Back
Don't worry; it only does this on request. Select Sport mode on the e-gear paddle-shift transmission and it calls up a shift program designed to deliver the quickest gearchanges possible. The result is kidney-bruising full-throttle upshifts that arrive with an audible pop.
And it's fantastic, a bit addictive even. Bap, bap, bap and you're doing well over 100 mph. Sure, Porsche's PDK and Audi's S-tronic dual-clutch boxes are slick and all, but this transmission shifts like it means it.
Better Horsepower-to-Weight Ratio Than a Ferrari 458
Sure, the Ferrari 458 is an all-new car and the current darling of Italy, but the LP570-4 has a slightly better power-to-weight ratio. Both cars are rated at 562 horsepower, but the Lamborghini tips the scales at 2,954 pounds — 88 fewer pounds than the Ferrari.
So it's not much, but this is the Italian version of Chevy versus Ford. Think it's a coincidence that the two cars have the exact same horsepower ratings? Nope. Think the Lambo guys knew the 458's curb weight, too? Possibly.
Nobody Wants the Manual Transmission
Although the LP570-4 comes standard with a six-speed paddle-shifted e-gear transmission, you can order a six-speed manual as a no-cost option. It's actually the same Graziano transaxle (GT-ME1), but instead of the e-gear equipment there's a manual linkage and a traditional lever.
Sadly, Lamborghini officials told us that the take rate is ridiculously low, somewhere around 3 percent. Yet, when we asked if Lamborghini intends to do away with manuals altogether, the head of R&D, Maurizio Reggiani, told us, "If someone asks, we'll offer it."
When we asked him why the e-gear boxes are so popular he said, "If you buy a car like this and you are not able to use the clutch in the right way, you are like a stupid boy with a marvelous car. Everybody would like to have something that works in a perfect way."
Can't really argue with that one, Maurizio.
Carbon Fiber Everywhere
Taking weight out of a car that's already pretty light on its tires isn't easy. Still, Lamborghini's engineers managed to subtract 154 pounds from the standard Gallardo.
Much of the weight savings came from the use of carbon fiber. On the LP570-4, the engine cover, rear spoiler, sills, side mirror housings, underbody trays and rear diffuser are all made of the expensive gray stuff. Inside, the door panels, center console and shift surround are also switched to carbon-fiber pieces. Lamborghini also saved some weight by using polycarbonate windows at the sides, rear and over the engine.
An Even Lighter-Weight Version Is Possible
As light as the Superleggera is, an even more stripped-down version is under consideration for pure track duty. That car would shed convenience features like air-conditioning and the power windows along with the carpet, sound-deadening materials and anything else not completely necessary for racing. Expect to see such a variation on the LP570-4 in the not-too-distant future, but like we said, it'll probably be a non-road-going track car.
Carbon Brakes Are Extra
Yes, even $237,000 sports cars have options and surprisingly enough, carbon-ceramic brake rotors are not standard on the LP570-4 Superleggera. We didn't get a chance to sample the standard discs, be we can assure you that the carbon rotors work quite well. Even after dozens of hot laps on a fast circuit, they bit hard with little fade and were quite easy to modulate. Can't ask for much more than that, so ask for them.
Unique Wheels and Tires
This may seem like a lightly upgraded model, but the changes were enough to warrant specific tires to take full advantage of the car's reduced weight and unique handling characteristics. Sized 235/35ZR19 up front and 295/30ZR19 at the rear, the Pirelli P Zero Corsas are mounted on forged aluminum wheels that shave 28.6 pounds off the car's curb weight. Even the wheel bolts are made from titanium to shave a little extra weight.
You might think that the "4" in the LP-570-4's name means it's all grip and no slip. Not a chance. The standard bias sends 70 percent of the power to the rear, so all you need is a heavy foot and the traction control turned off to get this Gallardo twisted up in opposite lock.
A quick steering ratio makes it easy to catch, and those sticky Pirellis hook right back up once you ease off the power a bit. A pretty nice compromise, actually, as the Gallardo is otherwise easy to power through turns thanks to the front-end grip provided by the all-wheel-drive system.
Not that its owners probably care, but the LP570-4 is not only more powerful than the previous Superleggera, it emits less CO2 per mile as well. Lamborghini says this Gallardo's fuel consumption has been reduced by 20 percent.
Some of the credit goes to the use of direct injection. It allowed the engineers to pump up the compression ratio to 12.5:1. If you're not familiar, that's some serious cylinder pressure, so you'd better put in the good stuff.
It Has an Optional Rearview Camera
Yes, Lamborghini has joined the ranks of the average minivan with an optional rearview camera. It's cleanly mounted on the rear spoiler and is quite useful, since the rearward view from the driver seat is a bit limited.
Thankfully, the LP570-4 Superleggera also offers some manly options, too, like four-point harnesses, a roll cage and a fire extinguisher. Now those are options.