Too sensible, said the naysayers. This, for a dart-shaped junior supercar with four-wheel drive, 520hp from a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V10 and a top speed of almost 200mph. It sounded daft back in 2003 when the Gallardo was launched, and it sounds just as silly now, but this was the worry about the first Lamborghini to be entirely designed, developed and produced under Audi’s stewardship of the firm.
The truth is that Audi’s input made the Gallardo better built, more reliable and much more usable. It also made Lamborghini capable of spitting more than 14,000 out of the factory between 2003 and 2014. Additionally, there were facelifts, open-top Spyder versions and lightweight specials – including two versions of the Superleggera, the more recent of which got a seriously punchy 570hp.
But perhaps the king of all the Gallardos was the LP550-2 Valentino Balboni, named in honour of the legendary Lamborghini test driver upon his retirement. This was lighter, more playful and, crucially, rear-wheel drive, which made it that bit more involving than the already-brilliant regular car. There was a soft-top LP 550-2 Spyder as well, though that didn’t get the Balboni moniker.