Lamborghini Gallardo buying guide: powertrain

With 500hp at 7,800rpm from the 4,961cc V10 motor and 376lb ft of torque at 4,500rpm, the Gallardo in original coupe guise had no trouble cracking 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds. Buyers could choose between a six-speed manual gearbox and an automated manual E-gear transmission.

As demand for more power grew, Lamborghini offered the SE version. Only 250 SE models were made and came with a 520bhp version of the 5.0-litre V10. This engine then went on to do service in the open-top Spyder that arrived in 2006 and the limited run Nera. The 2007 Superleggera shed 100kg of weight compared to a standard Gallardo coupe and gained a further 10bhp to develop 530bhp for 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 202mph, which is up from the standard coupe's 192mph.

Direct-injection LP560 engine uprated to 5.2 litres
Direct-injection LP560 engine uprated to 5.2 litres
For 2008, the Gallardo gained a 5,204cc V10 motor with direct injection. It upped power to 560bhp across the coupe and Spyder range and also came with a revised E-gear transmission to give quicker, slicker shifts. A Corsa setting was also added to the Automatic and Sport settings previously offered for more aggressive gear changes during track use.

Performance for the Gallardo coupe now delivered 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds, or 4.0 for the Spyder, and a top speed of 202mph (201mph for the Spyder). In 2009, Lamborghini honoured its long serving test driver Valentino Balboni with the Gallardo he always wanted. No fan of all-wheel drive, Balboni got his wish of a rear-drive Gallardo with manual gearbox. The LP550-2 Valentino Balboni edition was limited to 250 cars, all coupes with coloured stripe down the middle. It may have slightly less power at 550hp, but the Balboni is lighter at 1,380kg compared to the normal Coupe's 1500kg. Even so, the Balboni needs 3.9 seconds for 0-60mph and top speed is 199mph. However, it's reckoned to be the best Gallardo to drive and very sought after.

RWD Balboni edition is the hardcore choice
RWD Balboni edition is the hardcore choice
One final version of the Gallardo's 5.2-litre V10 has been offered to date in the form of the LP570-4's 570hp iteration. It's used in the latest Superleggera model and Spyder Performante, which is an open-top version of the Superleggera in all but name. In Superleggera form, this engine propels the Gallardo from 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds, or 3.8 seconds for the Spyder Performante.

Neither the 5.0-litre or 5.2-litre V10 engines have any known weaknesses if driven with some consideration. They will use a litre of oil every 4,000 miles or so and owners checking this need to bear in mind the motor uses a dry sump, so be careful not to overfill with oil. Also, be sure to use the correct Agip oil as inferior quality oils can lead to engine failure and a replacement will set you back around £60,000 fully fitted from Lamborghini.

Engines that have led a harder life are much more prone to oil leaks from the rear main seals, which should be replaced every time the clutch is replaced. The front seal can also weep, though this a less of a worry. With hard use, oil consumption goes up dramatically and you can expect the V10 to use a litre of oil every 600- to 1000 miles with hard road to track use.

Manual is rarer but tougher than E-gear
Manual is rarer but tougher than E-gear
The V10 engine in early Gallardos was built by Audi in Germany and it's reckoned to have weaker con rod bearings. Later cars from 2005 onwards had their engines built in Italy at Lamborghini's factory and these are more durable. However, turbocharging a Gallardo, which is a popular modification in the USA, puts the con rod bearings under huge stress. Also, driving a Gallardo on its rev limiter for more than a few minutes at a time can lead to con rod bearing failure and a new engine.

Cars that have spent more time posing around town than being properly driven can suffer from sticking throttle bodies, usually noticed by the engine running unevenly. It's an easy fix for a dealer or specialist.

The exhaust of the Gallardo has noise reduction valves so it's decently civilised below 4,000rpm but aptly aggressive beyond that. The valves work automatically, so any car with a permanently quiet exhaust needs the solenoids replacing, though this is a rare fault. More likely to be found on a Gallardo is an aftermarket exhaust from the likes of Tubi or Larini. Make sure any aftermarket exhaust has been properly fitted and the noise suits your intended use.

Superleggera gets 570hp
Superleggera gets 570hp
The six-speed transmission of the Gallardo is the same for the manual and E-gear versions. Clutch operation is the difference between the two gearbox varieties and the manual is the easier on the wallet. A stretched gear linkage cable is the only problem likely to rear its head with a manual 'box and is an easy fix. Cars from 2006 onwards come with revised, slightly shorter gear ratios for quicker acceleration through the gears.

Choose the E-gear, as 80 per cent of Gallardo buyers do, and the gear changes are worked via column-mounted paddle shifters that work an automated clutch. Early Gallardos suffered a very jerky clutch action, which was improved with a 'B' type clutch to replace the original 'A' type. The B was then superseded by the 'C', while LP560 Gallardos have an 'E' type clutch that is considered the best yet. From late 2005 on, a sintered clutch was used.

The E-gear transmission's hydraulic pump can fail and is expensive to replace, so look for fluid leaks that are not obviously engine oil or coolant

Clutch wear is an essential check for any Gallardo purchase as a replacement will set you back £3,000. With the manual transmission, you can inspect the clutch visually, but E-gear cars need to be plugged into the laptop of a dealer or specialist to determine its condition and life expectancy. A jerky clutch could be a sign of a car that has not had the software upgrades Lamborghini has periodically updated for the Gallardo.

They type of use and mechanical sympathy of the driver also have a huge bearing on the lifetime of the Gallardo's clutch. Track day use need not cause excessive wear, but a driver keen on traffic light drag racing will. Expect clutches to last between 5,000- and 20,000 miles depending on use.

Owner's view:
'I quickly got used to the paddle shift and, despite hearing from people that pre-2006 cars were jerky, felt this was just part of the experience. In the Gallardo, you're reminded at every gear change this is a serious car ready to throw you back into the seat and push your eyeballs to the back of your head if you're not careful.'

Roger Brooks

Buying guide contents:

Rolling Chassis

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