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Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera review (2010 onwards)
What - Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera
Where - Seville, Spain
Date - 28 March 2010
Price - £178,000
Available - now (first deliveries - June)
Key rivals -Aston Martin Vantage V12, Porsche 911 GT3, Ferrari 430 Scuderia
Summary - Lightweight Lambo packs a heavyweight punch and a heavyweight price
Gallery: Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera
What a time to be a supercar manufacturer. Sales have fallen through the floor, conspicuous consumption is about as fashionable as Timmy Mallett and even those customers who do still want cars can't organise any finance.
Lamborghini might not be immune from these troubles (it sold just 1,700 cars last year, down from the 2,406 in 2008) but it continues doing what it does best - producing extreme sports cars like this new Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera.
And what a temptation. As before, the Superleggera is effectively a lightweight version of the Gallardo to go head to head with the likes of Porsche's 911 GT3 and the forthcoming Scuderia version of the Ferrari 458.
With more power and 70kg less weight, the Gallardo is fitted out with masses of lightweight carbonfibre (thanks to a new partnership with aeroplane manufacturers Boeing) and, crucially, provides an important pointer to Lamborghini's future.
For its coming models, the Italian firm has said that it will increase performance not through extra power, but by cutting weight. When you consider this Superleggera weighs only 80kg more than the classic 1960s Miura, it's impressive work.
Unfortunately, as the weight has gone down, the price has gone up, with the LP570 costing a cool £22,000 over the standard Gallardo. As with the GT3 and Scuderia, less it seems will always cost you more.
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According to boss Stephan Winkelmann Lamborghini's DNA was always in order of importance: design, top speed, acceleration and handling. Now, he says, top speed and handling have swapped places, reflecting the changing nature of the sports car market.
So top speed stays at 202mph but thanks to that diet and an extra 10hp derived from engine management mods to the 5.2-litre V10 the 0-62mph time drops from 3.7 seconds to 3.4 - a significant margin.
Although a six-speed manual is available as a no-cost option, the vast majority of Superleggera (and indeed Gallardo as a whole) sales are the e-gear automated manual with the usual paddles on the steering column to change gear.
Although most rivals have moved towards twin-clutch semi-autos, Lamborghini claims that this might not necessarily be the solution for the future due to their extra weight over the likes of the e-gear system.
Another obvious question is the issue of the LP570's continuance with four-wheel drive. Lambo's director of Research and Development Maurizio Reggiani claims that it would save 35kg, but it wouldn't be worth the loss in traction and driveability.
The special edition Gallardo Balboni, which is rear-wheel drive, will apparently be a one-off and, incidentally, is also 40kg heavier than this Superleggera.
Ride and handling
Here is where most of that extra £22,000 has been spent. Lamborghini has totally changed the suspension from the standard Gallardo and also undertaken a lot of work on the aerodynamics.
At 150mph, the Superleggera produces 50kg more downforce than the LP560 with no extra drag thanks to a fully covered underbody, redesigned rear diffuser and that boot spoiler.
Although you can start to feel the effects of those aero changes at high speed on a race circuit, undoubtedly the biggest improvement is the carbon-ceramic brakes (a £12,000 option saving another 12kg) thanks to a new servo.
The previous heart-in-mouth moments as you stabbed the middle pedal to find nothing there until the last minute are now thankfully gone. Instead, the brakes are progressive, hugely powerful, have much more feel and, as a result, fill the driver with confidence.
That confidence-inspiring characteristic applies to the whole of the Superleggera in fact. The steering feels sharper and more accurate than the LP560 and the e-gear gearchange, while brutal at full throttle, suits the car's purposeful nature.
What is required though, is some familiarity. Where initially it's easy to be daunted by the Superleggera's stiff ride and 'raring to go' feel, the depths of this car need be learned step by step and the rewards only get greater as you do so. A bit more steering feel would be nice though.
As with all these lightweight specials, the interior is a lesson in what creature comforts you can do without. The centre stack with the Audi-sourced satellite navigation system remains as before and the Alcantara-stitched dashboard and steering wheel are gorgeous.
That Lamborghini has taken its weight loss very seriously is easy to see though. Of that 70kg weight saving, a massive 42kg have come from the interior and half of that from the seats alone.
There's a carbonfibre transmission tunnel and inner door linings and the handle to pull the door shut is now just a loop of material. The only irony is that the lightness of the doors actually makes it feel cheap, even though you know it's anything but.
The fixed-recline deep bucket seats are Alcantara-covered carbonfibre and comfortable even if, as in the standard LP560, any drivers over six-feet tall might wish for slightly more headroom.
Economy and safety
Despite that extra performance, the LP570 is marginally more economical than the standard Gallardo. Average fuel economy is 20.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 319g/km (20.6mpg and 325g/km on the standard car).
The standard on-board ESP system is also affected by the Sport and Corsa gearbox settings allowing the driver increasing levels of freedom to slide the car. Though it can be switched off entirely, it's probably not a wise idea on a public road.
Image © Lamborghini
MSN Cars verdict
An extra £22,000 for a car with fewer gadgets, a harder ride and reduced comfort sounds like a fool's game. But things like the Superleggera can't be viewed with the same usual cold, hard logic as normal cars.
As with the GT3 and the 430 Scuderia, the Gallardo LP570 is at the more extreme end of the market. For some the Superleggera might be a step too far, but as far as we're concerned it's just made a great car even better.
|Need to know|
|Engine - Petrol||5.2-litre V10|
|Torque (lb ft)||398|
|Top speed (mph)||202|
|Rating||Lamborghini Gallardo |
|Ride and handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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