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The Lamborghini Gallardo coupe and Spyder remain unchanged for 2008, although a new higher-performance edition known as the Superleggera makes a one-year appearance.
The 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo does not appear to have been designed for "Star Wars" by Industrial Light & Magic. It isn't wider than a Chevy Silverado. The doors don't slice and dice and make julienne fries. Yet these characteristics have been some of Lamborghini's calling cards for the past 30-something years, applied to a wild sports car bunch that took the word "exotic" to even higher levels. Cars like the Countach, Diablo and most recently, Murcielago, were not only wildly expensive but also often cumbersome to drive.
The Gallardo, by comparison, is only really expensive, versus wildly so. And with saner dimensions, traditional doors and a more habitable cockpit, it's the first Lamborghini in decades to be considered actually livable. And what a fun life it must be for those who purchase one of the three Gallardo variants: the standard coupe, Spyder convertible and the lightweight performance edition known as the Superleggera. New for 2008, the latter's more aggressive suspension tuning and weight reductions (about 150 pounds) make it less livable than the other two, although the Superleggera does increase the Gallardo's handling and performance prowess significantly.
As for the higher-volume 2008 Gallardos, they feel surprisingly similar -- the Spyder's 250 additional pounds of structural reinforcement bless this topless Lambo with unyielding integrity that the coupe manages to only slightly surpass. As such, both versions display prime composure, taking to twists, turns and dips like Fred and Ginger -- or Jason Taylor and that brunette girl from "Dancing with the Stars," if you have no idea who Fred and Ginger are.
It's important to note that the Sant'Agata factory has already begun production on the coupe's successor, next year's improved Gallardo LP560-4. The Spyder will carry over unchanged, but the Superleggera will be sold for only this year. As such, coupe buyers might want to wait a bit until the '09 model arrives. Either way, however, it's hard to describe the Gallardo as anything but Lamborghini's best car ever. True, it's not the brand's most memorable model, nor will it likely be a timeless classic. But in terms of actual driving enjoyment and daily functionality, it can't be topped.
The 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo comes in two body styles: a coupe and a convertible known as the Spyder. The coupe is also available in a lightweight, higher-performance edition called the Superleggera. Standard equipment on all models includes 19-inch wheels, an automatically extending rear spoiler, bi-xenon headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a four-speaker stereo with six-CD changer and two auxiliary audio jacks, and a multimedia control interface virtually identical to Audi's MMI system. The Spyder adds a fully powered soft top and integrated tonneau cover.
Options include a suspension lift system to prevent front spoiler scrapes, carbon-ceramic brakes, a rearview camera, heated seats and side mirrors, and a navigation system. Lamborghini also offers a variety of special-order "Privilegio" options, most of which involve specialty colors and trims.
The all-wheel-drive Gallardo coupe and Spyder are powered by a 5.0-liter V10 that produces 512 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission with gated metal shifter is standard. A six-speed automanual transmission known as e-gear is optional. The sprint from zero to 60 mph should take around 4 seconds.
The Superleggera receives an upgraded version of the 5.0-liter V10 good for 522 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. E-gear is the standard transmission. Although that power gain may seem insignificant, combined with a 150-pound weight loss, it gives the car an estimated time of about 3.7 seconds from zero to 60 mph.
The Gallardo comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control and side airbags. A rearview camera is optional, while the rear spoiler on the regular coupe and convertible deploys at 75 mph for added downforce.
The Audi influence is obvious inside the 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo, with plenty of properly fitting leather and soft-touch materials. The cockpit features comfortable seating that won't leave you reaching for the painkillers after a long trip, while the driving position is a big improvement over past Lambos. The Lamborghini version of Audi's MMI electronics interface is a bit counterintuitive, as the control knob and accompanying buttons are placed next to the screen rather than near the shifter. Essentially, it takes the driver's eyes off the road for too long -- and in a car that can go 195 mph, that's never a good thing.
Though not as flamboyant as the exterior, the interior styling is still suitable for a vehicle that commands such a high price of admission. Like everything Audi touches, build and materials quality is excellent. Storage space is minimal; just a bit of room is available behind the seats of the coupe and in the nose-mounted trunk. The Superleggera is practically identical in terms of design, but differs by featuring lightweight racing seats and Alcantara upholstery covering most surfaces.
At full throttle, the V10 produces a sweet soundtrack truly befitting a Lamborghini. With 512 hp on tap, the 2008 Gallardo is capable of warp speed from any gear. It's true that the big V10 and all-wheel-drive system do make the Gallardo a bit portly for this class of car, and it has been hyperbolically described as feeling like "a faster, more expensive Audi TT." Therefore, it doesn't quite provide the same razor's-edge responsiveness that one can get from, say, a Ferrari F430. Additionally, the brakes, though immensely powerful, can be inconsistent in feel when pushed to their limit.
There's still plenty to like about the Gallardo, particularly the Spyder, which provides the thrilling combination of Lamborghini thrills and top-down sunshine. Then there's the Gallardo Superleggera, which provides more of that razor's-edge responsiveness. By going on a lightweight carbon-fiber diet -- and by producing a more visceral (read: loud) exhaust note -- the Superleggera offers a more agile, lively feel.
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