Sabtu, 07 Juni 2008



By Sajeev Mehta

As their respective logos suggest, driving a Ferrari requires courage and finesse; piloting a Lamborghini means taking the bull by the horns and hanging on for dear life. In fact, driving a Lambo is something of a pistonhead rite of passage. It says you’re able to control– or at least survive– a monster. Anyway, that’s the old rep, before Audi started playing with the bull’s balls. I mean, finding a way to harness automotive testosterone for more “civilized” progress. Though enraptured, Farago wasn’t entirely convinced by the Gallardo’s Audiefied manners. Nuts to that.

The baby bull certainly looks the biz. During my tenure, the beast of Bologna attracted the wide-open throttles of two Texas-bred Taurii eager to bask in the limelight of their bovine overlord. The Gallardo’s creases are a youthful interpretation of the family bloodlines. The trim lines and eager headlights are puppy-dog cute against big brother Murcielago’s stern-faced mug.

Surprisingly, when highway stunt turns to stationary floss, bedazzled bystanders don’t notice the Gallardo’s lack of upwards opening doors. It’s a brand hallmark that turns heads faster than a Kanye West performance at a Republican Party fundraiser. Still, it’s a fair exchange: scissor doors for adorable. And there’s still less chance that onlookers will mistake the Gallardo for a “normal” car than Kayne West will perform at a Republican Party fundraiser.

Supercar interiors are known for yards of fragrant leather, exquisite metalwork, Alcantara decadence and an aesthetically incoherent smattering of modern amenities, usually lifted from someone else’s parts bin. Check. More to the point, the Gallardo’s aromatic thrones are g-force ready and boulevard compliant, and its rearward visibility puts the Chrysler 300 to shame (as if it needs help).

The Audi-sourced interior bits are no bother– especially when contemplating the joys of a 512hp V-10 that shares an occasional blueprint with das mittel Audi sedan. Twist-up the quad-cammed meisterwerk capolavoro. The unfiltered engineering loosens your bowels even as it intoxicates your soul. Let the idle settle, put your hand on the aluminum shifter and the aft-mounted pistonage persuades your heartbeat to match its elevated cadence. Sweet.

With all wheel-drive and enough torque to launch a yacht, the Gallardo does a lot more than accelerate. It MOTIVATES. Stay in the sauce past 4000 revs and a tidal wave of forty-valve madness churns your mind and pummels your kidneys, The psycho-somatic assault doesn’t let up until the 8000rpm redline arrives. Zero to 60 takes 4.2 seconds, but who’s counting? Certainly not the driver, whose mind is occupied with a lot more serious matters than keeping track of numbers on a stopwatch.

RF tested a Gallardo with E-gear, which is a bit like having sex with a bad hangover. The Lambo’s conventional six-speed manual is the perfect dance partner; never once did the driveline wince from a misplaced command. Whisking through the metallic gates was effortless and accurate. Even better, the sound of aluminum clacking against aluminum provided peerless mechanical intoxication.

Even with massive 19” hoops underfoot, the Gallardo’s ride adds enough compliance to give the impression there’s an A6 badge on the rear. Let the throttle plates relax and this Lambo takes pavement poundings with charm school restraint.

The Gallardo has the mad cornering skills to justify the bills. Yes, the effortless control of a 911 is absent. Whereas the Porsche has that hot knife through butter gestalt, the Gallardo’s helm is more akin to pushing a vario-speed Dremel through a sheet of balsawood. You get all of the Porker’s capability, just not as much tactile satisfaction. That said, like any good super car, extra speed makes everything better. The Gallardo’s power-on cornering is mostly unflappable.

It should come as no surprise that the Lamborghini Gallardo cuts corners like Motown’s finest bean counters. But the car’s idiot-proof dynamics are a big bonus. Make no mistake (so to speak9); I pushed the Gallardo hard. Its Quattro-esque driveline planted me in my seat, patiently waiting for my right foot to catapult us out the apex. The traction control knows its place; its mildly intrusive manners are summoned only when your bacon must be saved.

Never before has a carbon-based body been in such perfect harmony with four Pirelli gumballs. It’s quite surreal; thrashing a vehicle that flirts with the limits of one’s prowess and then yanks you down to reality with nary a hint of drama from the 14” rotors. The Gallardo is a supercar that doesn't require superhuman effort to extract maximum pleasure from the asphalt.

And it’s a total babe magnet. OK, you might not want to sleep with any woman/man who wants to sleep with you because you own Lamborghini Gallardo. But there’s plenty of inter-personal pleasure to be had as the driver of a one-car advertisement for Italian automotive heritage. But the real thrill comes from wringing the neck of a supercar that lets you live to tell the tale. Yes, the Lamborghini Gallardo is a beast, but it's about as friendly as a 500hp+ sports car can be. And that's no bull.


By Robert Farago

Testing a Gallardo SE in Miami is like sipping Chateau Lafite Rothschild in a public urinal. The little Lambo was born to annihilate the twisting mountain roads surrounding Italy's supercar valley, or flirt with V3 on a derestricted German autobahn. Miami's geometric streets and traffic-choked highways offer the Gallardo driver nothing more than a sinuous onramp and an occasional half-mile sprint– which is plenty damn exciting but about as satisfying as red wine slammers. So, whilst fending-off a frantic flackmeister preoccupied with the definition of the words "driving impression," I guided the baby bull towards the nearest race track.

As I quick-quick-slowed through the cars clogging I-95 North, I was taken aback by the lack of stare and attention given the Gallardo. With its strange combination of diminutive footprint, cab forward stance, drop snout, near horizontal windshield and unrelenting angularity, the Gallardo lacks what native S-Class owners call "uberholprestige": that indefinable yet unmistakable car-isma that convinces fellow road users to move the Hell over. Either that or Floridians are fed-up with the automotive tastes of Bolivian drug lords. In any case, we now know what happens when a Belgian designs a supercar for a legendary Italian nameplate under the wary eye of a German conglomerate; and it ain't what I'd call pretty.

What DO you call it? Audighini? Lamboraudi? Inside, it's equally hard to tell. Pride of place goes to a bog standard Audi head unit and dual-zone climate control system. A row of faux aluminum toggle switches tries to reclaim the cabin from Ingolstadt's anal retentives, violating both common sense (depress and hold for lights?) and haptic satisfaction (a Barbie washing machine offers more profound clickery). This single stylistic flourish is lost in an interior dominated by generic minimalism. The Gallardo's bland, unbranded gauges are only the worst example of the flairectomy. If you're looking for a sense of occasion, breathe deep; an intoxication of musky leather provides a much-needed supercar cue.

Alternatively, prick up your ears. At idle, the Gallardo's V10 sounds like a mono-chromatic bassoon player jangling a set of keys. Up to 3500rpm, it's hard to tell which is less impressive: the amount of usable torque or the engine's subdued sonic signature. At four grand, the Gallardo SE gets its freak on. When I finally mashed the go-pedal, charging down the literally named Beeline Highway, the Gallardo's 512-horse powerplant emitted a bellow that sent distant gators scrambling for submersion. The aural belligerance increased in direct proportion to the escalating violence created by the car's gut-punching thrust. This all the way to the Gallardo's scarcely credible 8100rpm redline.

Two clicks on the stationary e-gear paddles (flippers to a piss ant parody of Audi's DSG) snapped us to 140 miles per hour. And yet we seemed no closer to the limitless, brooding horizon. And then the Gallardo started to vibrate like an electrified motel bed, indicating a suspension issue, an alignment problem, worn tires or some lamentable combination thereof (not entirely unknown to drivers of thoroughly played press cars). My soul mate demanded I Chuck Yeager the situation, but repeated blasts through the century and a half mark only exacerbated the supercar DT's. Meanwhile, we'd arrived.

I most emphatically did NOT take the Lamborghini Gallardo SE onto the track at the Moroso Motor Sports Park in Jupiter, Florida. But if I had, I might have reported that the Gallardo was as happy roaring around tight corners as a Prius golf carting in an Earth Day parade. That the German/Italian pocket rocket is a perfectly stable platform for drivers determined to hear the clack of their passenger's helmet ricocheting off the side window. That the four-wheel drive supercar turns eight tenths into five tenths, and punishes nine into eleven tenths with an understeer slide– unless you switch off the ESP traction control.

In that case, I probably would have discovered that the Gallardo's tail loses its implacable resolve to stay behind the front end– which would have been great for some tire-smelting drifting but a REAL problem for anyone stupid enough to paddle the e-gear during lateral-G's. I might also have pointed-out that the Gallardo SE's uprated brakes still fail to meet the standard set by Stuttgart's stoppers for bite, feel and ferocity. But, as I said, I didn't get the chance to put the Gallardo SE through its paces; and I'm not the type of automotive writer to indulge in uninformed conjecture.

Remaining in the theoretical realm, it's easy to see how Lamborghini could take the Gallardo to the next level. A couple of turbos would eliminate the low-end torque deficiency. A DSG gearbox would transform the herky-jerky e-Gallardo into a daily driver. And a bit of extra design coherence would sort out the uglies. Oh wait, that's the upcoming Audi R8. Huh. Now what?