2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4

LAMBO’S SUCCESSFUL SEQUEL

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4

FAST FACTS

1. The LP560-4 gets a boost of 40hp and 22 ft-lbs of torque over the outgoing model for a total of .

2. Fuel efficiency has been improved by almost 20 percent thanks to direct-injection technology.

3. Adjustments to the E-gear transmission mean smoother shifts as well as faster shifts – up to 40 percent faster in Corsa mode.

Rarely, if ever, does the sequel to a successful motion picture outshine the original on the big screen. As evidence I give you The Matrix Reloaded and Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Despite decades of silver screen history lessons, studios still become fixed on attempting to re-create the box office magic of a blockbuster by churning out a poorly written script that wouldn’t make it past a studio execs garbage bin had the original never existed.

Back in 2003 Lamborghini unveiled it’s own Blockbuster, the Gallardo. The ‘entry-level’ bull was a bold step for the exclusive super sports car maker. By attempting to increase production and sales of a more inexpensive Murciélago alternative, the company not only risked reducing the exclusivity of the brand, but it could have decreased demand for the flagship model.

Five years and over 7,100 Gallardos later, Lamborghini has proven that expanding its product line-up not only allowed the company to sell significantly more vehicles, but it also transformed the once struggling company into one of the most profitable automotive brands in the world.

A SUCCESSFUL SEQUEL

With all this success the worry existed that Lamborghini had nowhere to go but down. Could the Gallardo’s successor be significantly better than the original without outshining the LP640? Could it possibly draw on the styling of the previous Gallardo while still appearing fresh and innovative?

I am happy to report that the answers to these two questions are a resounding and unequivocal yes. Having the opportunity to track test a first generation Gallardo, I felt I had a suitable basis of comparison to judge the new model at its launch at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The moment I slid into the cockpit of the Gallardo successor, I could tell that things had changed. And upon firing up the 5.2-liter V10 beast I received all the confirmation I needed.

LIGHTER, MORE POWERFUL & MORE EFFICIENT

So what makes the new Gallardo, new? Well, for starters, it weighs less, makes more power and is significantly more fuel-efficient. The LP560 weighs 44 lbs less than the preceding Gallardo while gaining 40 hp and 22 ft-lbs of torque, all the while expelling 18 percent fewer emissions. While the low rolling resistance Pirelli tires and increased aerodynamic efficiency are a part of the reason, the real factor is the use of direct injection technology.

MORE JAGGED LAMBO CHARACTER

As for those aerodynamic improvements, they aren’t hard to notice. The Reventon-like front end helps to make the LP appear much more flamboyantly exotic, while the rear of the car, arguably its best angle, is softer and more subtle.

MATCHING THE COMPETITION

Other improvements include revamped variable valve timing, a more linear torque curve and entirely refigured suspension geometry in order to achieve improved handing and comfort.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to compare the outgoing Gallardo and the Ferrari F430 back to back at Moroso Motorsports Park and chose the F430 as the winner. My gripes about the Lamborghini included the fact that the gear transitions were too abrupt in addition to the braking and handling being much more brutish and uncivilized than the F430. Well, I won’t be so arrogant as to assume the folks over at Lambo’s R&D facility read my story, but I mustn’t have been alone in my impressions since none of the aforementioned shortcomings appear to be present in the latest LP. Needless to say, the LP might just be the victor in another such comparo.

EASY TO DRIVE, FAST OR SLOW

Although purists are free to disagree, the beauty of the new Gallardo is that it is amazingly easy to drive. While remaining a true exotic in styling and performance, not to mention price, it manages to also be incredibly accessible for the pilot. As I threw the car into turns both tight and wide, I could feel the ESP system giving me a nudge, instead of the smack in the head that some systems offer. The 30/70 traction split between the front and rear wheels means that the grip is incredible, but with 560 horses sitting behind you it isn’t difficult to wind up in trouble.

MUCH FASTER SHIFT TIMES

My LP 560-4 tester was equipped with E-gear (as will 90 percent of those produced), which made gear changes on the track blindingly fast. Whether I was winding up the eager V10 as I rifled through the gears on the back straight or being enchanted by rev-matching roars as I aggressively downshifted, I became more impressed by the system the longer I drove it.

Generally I prefer a good ol’ fashioned manual box, but I could certainly get used to Lambo’s revised E-gear transmission with its 40 percent faster shift times (in Corsa mode). Drivers have the choice of five modes in total that range from Normal to Corsa with the choice to manual or automatic providing a truly unique and precise driving experience. The additional “Thrust Mode” (Lambo’s version of launch control), offers maximum acceleration through all six gears if the driver chooses to take the time to meticulously engage it. My tester was also equipped with Carbon ceramic brakes – a $10,000 option. If you don’t plan on tracking your Gallardo, I would probably stick with the stock brakes.

THE VERDICT

After spending a significant portion of the day piloting the LP560-4 around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as well as along winding desert roads, I can say without doubt that Lamborghini has managed to recapture the magic of the past while making advancements towards the future.

When it comes to sequels, the LP560 can best be compared to Terminator 2. Even if you weren’t a big fan of the original, you certainly won’t want to miss this!

POSITVE

Superior shift timing More precise, agile handling Improved overall refinement

NEGATIVE

Large blindspots Excessive wind oscillation in cabin with windows down Operation of Thrust Mode overly complicated

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