Driven: Gallardo Superleggera LP 570-4

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.

The weird thing is, though, that this most flamboyant of mainstream supercars (it makes the Porsche 911 GT3, Ferrari 458 or Aston Martin DBS look like veritable wallflowers) really is a practical, approachable car.

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.

With the latest Gallardo Superleggera LP 570-4 you do not, in short, have to make the sorts of sacrifices in terms of comfort, usability and simple driveability that owning a Lamborghini would have required 20 - or even 10 - years ago. Crucially, however, for all the Gallardo Superleggera's civilities, you don't have to sacrifice any of the sense of occasion you associate with a Lamborghini - because the Superleggera is as red-blooded and dramatic a Lambo as there has ever been.

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.

As we cruised through central London at the time on Saturday morning when the more committed of Friday night's revellers were still at large (when you have five 500bhp-plus supercars sitting in the office car park it's a good reason to get up early on a Saturday), most of the capital's partygoers only had eyes for the 'Leg. Even the Mercedes SLS and the spoiler-tastic 911 GT3 struggled to grab people's attention.

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.

It picks up from almost any revs in any gear and, should you hold onto second or third until the glorious-sounding 562bhp V10 hits its peak power output at 8000rpm, you will very quickly find yourself in licence-losing territory. And that's a problem because it sounds (and feels) so good to do so that you'll find it hard to restrain yourself. The 202mph top speed and 3.4sec 0-62mph sprint are entirely believable

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.

It's possibly the most usable Lamborghini ever (and no doubt one of the most exciting), but in the end the Gallardo Superleggera is probably not the sort of car that you could drive everyday.

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.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (64) Join the discussion on the forum

  • rob.e 15 Sep 2010

    Yep, that really, REALLY does it for me!

    Even in green.

  • appletonn 15 Sep 2010

    Despite the fact that the new Ferrari 458 makes the Lambo seem a little old fashioned, I think I'd still choose the Lambo for the theatre and sense of occasion, not to mention that V10 engine.

  • joe_90 15 Sep 2010

    how do you decide in the office who gets to 'test drive' which car?

  • 8400rpm 15 Sep 2010

    I think that might be the first Lambo that I wouldn't mind owning myself.

  • Chris-R 15 Sep 2010

    joe_90 said:
    how do you decide in the office who gets to 'test drive' which car?
    Usually 'paper, scissors, stone' but sometimes by duelling in the car park...

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