Test Driven: Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, Al’s Take (Grade: A)

I don’t like the phrase “lame-duck.” It implies a constantly negative connotation. I don’t like negative connotations when it comes to anything that’s orange, Italian, and far too loud. Despite that, the Gallardo, one of Lamborghini’s most successful models, is indeed on its way out. This particular orange Italian screamer was the third car of four that I drove in Las Vegas last summer and, thanks to the scorching temperatures, the one I was the most fearful of not being able to drive. Luckily, this Lamborghini stayed cool in the heat, while I roasted in the sunlight before taking the wheel. It didn’t disappoint.

The Looks

The Gallardo is on its way out of the Lamborghini lineup, but the company understands the impact that it has had in its long life in the market. It certainly had an impact on my retinas that day. This one, a caution-orange LP570-4 Superleggera, looked beautiful and mean all in one package. The wedge shape is certainly evident, while the blacked out trim pieces, wing, and splitter are all functional and make sure your attention stays exactly on the Lamborghini and not whatever else is in front of the eyes.

The interior is stripped out, but not lacking in what’s necessary. The doors have minimal padding, the dashboard is slathered in Alcantara but has no real creature comforts, and there’s no carpets. The seats are simple, thin chairs with carbon fiber on the back and just the right amount of padding. The dashboard is covered in Alcantara, as are the seat covers. There’s still a radio, as well as air conditioning, so all is not completely lost in this bantamweight supercar. On my orange test car, the seats are trimmed in the exterior color, a nice touch. The steering wheel rim, center console, center stack, and instrument panel cover are trimmed up in carbon fiber–as if there’s anything else I expect to see. Overall, the interior is exactly what it’s supposed to be–purposeful and set for the car’s needs. IF the driver wants a cabin shod in leather and other niceties, look elsewhere.

Score: 4/4

By The Numbers

The Gallardo Superleggera is a single-purpose sort of car. It’s supposed to go as fast as possible, and to hell with the consequences. The bodywork has plenty of aerodynamic touches to give this car a mechanical advantage through the air, including a smart spoiler and a nice, chunky splitter up front. Things appear to be screwed together pretty well, but I don’t expect mistakes for a $300,000 car like this one. The bodywork is lightened up significantly, and the curb weight on the Superleggera is rated at less than 3,400 pounds– the lightest Lambo on sale at the time. There’s no scissor-type doors, making ingress and egress nice and easy.

On the inside, materials quality and build quality is right where it should be. Seam lines are tight in the stitching on the seats and the dashboard, the Alcantara is of a very high quality, and there’s plenty of carbon fiber to go around. Visibility isn’t too bad out front, but it’s, of course, pretty shabby out back and over-the-shoulder. It’s clear that Audi influenced some of the logic and build quality inside and out on the Gallardo since its launch–every surface makes this car feel like a quality product.

Score: 4.0/4.0

At The Helm:

As supercars go, Lamborghini has a reputation for taking no prisoners. The Gallardo, however, as the less-expensive (and supposedly more acessible) entrant, has gained a reputation for being a bit more forgiving. I didn’t really think about that when I took the wheel on this hot summer day. In a straight line, with the throttle jammed down against the floor, the 570hp V10 wailed and took me to extralegal speeds without any warning. I barely had time to think, let alone change gear on the responsive 6-speed E-gear transmission. The throttle response was brutal–I would hit the pedal and if I was in the right gear, I felt like I’d been hit by a train. On the main straight, I hit 105 MPH at one point and didn’t even realize it until I watched the video later. This car is fast, period. Cut-and-dry.

In corners, the low curb weight makes this Gallardo feel sublime. The AWD combined with the low mass and low center of gravity allows for ample grip. Steering feel is excellent, it’s crisp on turn-in and everything communicates nicely. The ride is firm and unforgiving, but I can’t find a reason for this not to be necessary. The tires proved to have plenty of grip, but the way the car rotates in corners was what surprised me most. In a very tight corner at the edge of the track, I found the steering to be incredibly forgiving, allowing me to rotate further in corners than I thought was possible. Not once did I ever feel like I was about to spin out of control.

Score: 4.o/4.0

The Bottom Line:

As exotics go, Lamborghini has been a staple (if any exotic can be called that) for decades now. The Gallardo has proven staying power, having been in production since 2003. With 10,000 units sold to show for it, people are willing to shell out $300K for one. The Superleggera started at over $240,000 when new, and although I didn’t ask the retail on my test car, judging by the way it was equipped, it was at least $250,000. Optioned up, $300K is a definite with a car such as this one, and I feel like, as an exotic super-light, money isn’t much of an object when the Superleggera is on the radar in the first place. Of course, what it provides for the money is tremendous. I can’t find a reason, if one makes enough money, not to want one–but of course, with this lineup on its way out and the existence of the Ferrari 458 Italia, which is in a similar price bracket and is better in very measureable categories, hurts the desireability somewhat. It’s also sharing market space with the Audi R8 GT, another interesting entry that has a lower price point.

Score: 3.0/4.0

Conclusion:

Overall, what’s not to like about the Superleggera? Lamborghini’s had a solid run with the Gallardo. It is their most successful car ever. I’m sure the Huracan, it’s successor which is due to launch this year, will be even better. It faces stiff competition in the twilight of its life cycle, but even under scrutiny, the LP570-4 Superleggera stands up to the pressure very well. Was it as much fun to drive as the Ferrari 458 Italia I drove a few minutes later? Well, that’s a matter of perspective. I found them both to be incredibly enjoyable, but in different ways–such as it is in this section of the market. Similar prices, but distinctly different driving dynamics and personalities is what makes the Gallardo a great car in the same way as its competition.

Total: 4.0+4.0+4.0+3.0 = 15.0/16

Grade: A

-Albert S. Davis

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