DRIVEN: GALLARDO SUPERLEGGERA LP 570-4
Extravagant, spectacular, yet still approachable - and that's just Riggers...
A bright green Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera does not look like something you would at any point describe as a practical car. Its luminous, sharply creased, dart-like shape, festooned as it is with stickers and a festival of carbon fibre pieces looks every bit the compact supercar: dramatic, outrageous, fast.
It's easy to get in and out; once in there's a surprising amount of all-round visibility (and more of a rearward view than you'll find in a Lotus Exige); the driving position is comfy; and the compact dimensions and impressively tight turning circle make manoeuvring (almost) a doddle. Heck, the E-gear paddleshift transmission is even bordering on the biddable these days.
It's not a car for shy, retiring types, though. We borrowed the Lamborghini (along with a few other shamelessly blagged supercars) for the PH team's recent trip from central London to Wiltshire for the Wilton House supercar show and, trundling in convoy through the West End, the Lamborghini shone like a beacon, even in some seriously elevated company.
Later on in the day, the little Gallardo would stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of F40s, Enzos and Carrera GTs - and still maintain its ability to grab the attention of passers-by.
But showing off, no matter how much fun it might be, is of course only part of a supercar's job. It must also go fast (both in a straight line and around corners). And going fast is something the Gallardo Superleggera does with considerable aplomb.
Beyond playing about on the motorway or dual carriageway (in a straight line) the Superleggera reveals plenty of enthusiasm for a bend or two. There isn't quite the intimate delicacy of turn-in that you'll get in the rear-wheel-drive Balboni (though you'd hardly call it lazy), but the Superleggera is blessed with massive stability, hugely inspiring brakes (carbon-ceramic jobs, of course) and grip that seems to go on forever.
Manage to break the tyres' limits of adhesion (by bunging a bootful of throttle out of a junction with the ESP switched off, say) and you'll find a pleasantly rear-biased tone to the Gallardo's handling. More sensible is to switch the car into 'Sport' or 'Corsa' mode, whereupon you can feel the back end wiggling around with you, without risking the back-end catching you out.
As for the controls themselves, everything is within easy reach and, thanks to Audi-sourced switchgear and infotainment systems, sensibly designed, although the pedals are distinctly offset - it wouldn't be an Italian supercar if there wasn't something wrong with the ergonomics.
Still, this is not down to any flaws in the car's dynamics or practicality - putting the offset pedals ot one side (hah!) - but simply the fact that being the centre of attention for so much of the time can become wearing. but when you want to draw a crowd, - or get the adrenaline flowing - the LP 570-4 has few peers. That you have to make so few sacrifices to do so is simply icing on the cake.