2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera: The Lawyer’s Road Test

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We at AutoPacific/VehicleVoice test lots of vehicles throughout the year, and we test them with the viewpoint of you, the consumer, in mind.  As such, we typically tend to test more attainable vehicles.  Last week, however, we got the chance to spend some quality time with a Lamborghini Gallardo.  And not just any Gallardo, mind you, but the hardcore flagship of the family, the LP 570-4 Superleggera.

We met up with a Lamborghini PR agent at a swanky hotel in Santa Monica, CA who handed us the keys to this beast.  After a few brief instructions on how to operate some of the less traditional controls in the car, we were off.  As circumstance would have it, however, our drive of the car was in the late afternoon.  Anyone who has been to Los Angeles knows that there is no such thing as spirited driving in LA during that time.  It was crystal clear that we weren’t going to be able to drive the car in the sort of manner the car was designed for.  So, we thought about who the consumer of this car would be (remember, that’s what we’re all about!), and how we could test it in a relevant manner to that consumer.

After a few traffic lights, we decided that we would test the car from the point of view of a very successful LA lawyer.  The sort of lawyer with celebrity clients – and an appropriately and similarly flashy lifestyle.  Could this hardcore supercar handle the rough-and-tumble of LA’s road environment, including potholes, stop-and-go traffic, and enraged drivers?  Would any temperamental, idiosyncratic quirks (so common in supercars) rear their heads?  So from those vantage points, we set off, crawling at about 10 mph onto the 10 East.

Let’s pause here to give you some background on the car.  The Gallardo is the junior of Lamborghini’s lineup, though that’s not to say it’s entry level by any means.  A base price of $212,000 sees to that.  The car is powered by a 5.2L direct injected V10 making between 550 and 570 HP, depending on the version.  All wheel drive is standard on nearly all models.  The Gallardo’s chassis also serves as the foundation for the Audi R8 (Lamborghini is effectively owned by Audi).

And what of the top-of-the-line Superleggera version we drove?  The word “superleggera” means “lightweight” in Italian.  In other words, the Superleggera has 154 pounds taken out of the car (its curb weight is a mere 2,954 lbs), much of it via the use of lightweight carbon fiber.  There’s carbon fiber everywhere.  It adorns exterior trim pieces, and much of the standard Gallardo’s plush interior furnishings are replaced with the lightweight stuff – including the entire door trims and alcantara-trimmed racing seats.  There are also special lightweight wheels too.

The Superleggera’s 570 HP and sub-3,000 lb curb weight (it weighs about as much as a Ford Focus) mean that the car can rocket from 0-62 mph in a downright frightening 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed of over 200 mph.  This isn’t just some fast car.  This is truly among the quickest road-legal vehicles on the planet.

So back to rush hour, then.  How are we doing?  Actually, shockingly well, thank you.  The Gallardo Superleggera proved to be absolute child’s play to drive.  The sophistication e-gear automated manual transmission handled the shifting for us; the six-speed gearbox has a distinctly manual-like feel when it shifts (rather than the butter-smooth shifts of a traditional automatic), but in a car like this, that’s part of the appeal.  As traffic starts to dissipate a bit, we get a brief chance to let the engine clear its throat.  No doubt, the acceleration is otherworldly (and due to us not wanting to end up in jail, we never even got the tach past 5,500 rpm; redline is at 8,500 rpm), but perhaps even more impressive is the bark from the flat-plane cranked V10.

Not wanting to invite trouble, we settled into a 70 mph cruise on the 405 South and were surprised to find that we could carry on a conversation without undue effort, and that the ride was indeed firm but really rather tolerable.  In fact, we’re pretty sure that if we were driving the standard Gallardo with its multi-adjustable leather power seats (rather than the Spartan racing buckets that come with the Superleggera), we would have been downright comfortable.

Heading into West LA, we were somewhat surprised to find that the car handled road imperfections quite nicely; the structure felt immensely strong, but so did everything else attached to it.  There wasn’t a single rattle or squeak in this car; its quality was truly impressive.  Must be Audi’s influence!

Making slow progress on Wilshire Blvd. proved to be child’s play for the Gallardo.  No lumpy idle, no worrying about fouling the spark plugs by running for extended periods at such low speeds, no weird burning smells.  It simply did its thing without drama.  Anyone who has dealt with high performance Italian exotics of the past know what an accomplishment this is.  It appears to be capable of shrugging off whatever is thrown its way – whether it’s a twisty Alpine road, a derestricted German autobahn, a track day at Monticello Motor Club, or a series of client meetings throughout Los Angeles.

It was with sadness that we handed back the keys (and also a bit of relief, as we would have hated to damage a quarter million dollar car).  But we came away mighty impressed at the day-to-day versatility of this supercar.  We may not have wrung out the engine or thrown it some tasty decreasing radius corners, but we did use it in a manner consistent with the way many of its owners will.  And it aced that test with flying colors.

So, now I have to ask myself: is it too late to get that law degree?

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