What's New for 2012
For 2012, the Lamborghini Gallardo sees no changes.
Italy is known for making things that look great (see Elisabetta Canalis), sound great (listen to Pavarotti) and taste great (eat some penne arrabbiata). We doubt we'd find any argument that the 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo scores big in the first two areas. And while we don't advise taking a bite out of its fine leather upholstery, the incredible performance of the Gallardo should be more than enough to satisfy the appetite of any exotic car enthusiast.
The full technical name of this Lamborghini includes letters and numbers that make it sound like a Star Wars droid but are in fact code for the car's powertrain. Take, for example, the Gallardo LP560-4. The LP refers to the V10's engine placement en Italiano (longitudinale posteriore) while 560 represents the engine's European output, which equals 552 horsepower. The 4 refers to the all-wheel-drive system seen on most Gallardos, which provides incredible traction, impressive balance and a surprisingly forgiving demeanor.
Recently, a rear-drive version known as the 550-2 debuted, geared toward more traditional sports car purists.
Should a standard Gallardo not be spicy enough, one could always go with the 570-4 Superleggera coupe or its convertible version, the 570-4 Spyder Performante. As you'd guess from the numbers, these two are even more powerful than the others. They're also lighter than their less expensive counterparts thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials like polycarbonate windows. They also sport firmer suspensions and aerodynamic enhancements that include a racecar-inspired, fully covered underbody.
Regardless of which Gallardo you consider, though, it will be a much saner choice than other Lamborghinis both past and present. It isn't wider than a Chevy Suburban. The doors open like normal doors and there aren't any crazy scoops or wings. Its compact size and standard rearview camera mean it isn't scary to park. And the cockpit's various controls are easy to locate and use, thanks to parent company Audi's influence. There's even anecdotal evidence that the Gallardo is pretty reliable as exotics go.
But make no mistake; despite its civility, the 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo is a wild child at heart that will provide all the visceral thrills you expect from an exotic sports car. Of course the Gallardo has worthy rivals in the form of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Audi R8, Ferrari 458 Italia and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. So we highly recommend test-driving them all -- not only because it's what a smart consumer should do, but also because it sounds like a helluva way to spend a weekend.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo is an exotic sports car. It is offered as the LP560-4 coupe and Spyder roadster, as well as the LP570-4 Superleggera coupe and LP570-4 Spyder Performante. There is also the rear-wheel-drive variant -- the LP550-2 -- which comes in standard monotone colors, or as the "Bicolore" edition with a two-tone paint scheme.
Standard equipment on the LP550-2 and LP560-4 models includes 19-inch wheels, an automatically extending rear spoiler, bi-xenon headlights, power-folding outside mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, power seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a multimedia driver interface similar to Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) system and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player. The Spyder has a full power-operated soft top.
Options include a nose-raising suspension for curb clearance, upgraded alloy wheels, faux suede upholstery, fitted luggage, heated seats, a navigation system, a rearview camera and upgraded audio with iPod integration. Available packages include the Travel package (which adds a cupholder, a luggage net behind the seats and a small storage compartment near the steering wheel) as well as a pair of interior Carbon packages. The latter bathe the cabin in carbon-fiber trim -- you get less with one package and more with the other. Lamborghini also offers its "Ad Personam" customization program, which gives the buyer extensive input into exterior and interior color combinations.
The Superleggera and Spyder Performante get carbon-fiber exterior and interior components, a more powerful V10, a standard automated manual transmission, polycarbonate rear and side windows, lighter 19-inch wheels, faux suede upholstery and special colors. Carbon-ceramic brakes and a permanent rear spoiler are optional along with most of the regular Gallardo's extras.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 is powered by a 5.2-liter V10 that sends 550 hp and 397 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. The LP560-4 is powered by a similar engine tweaked for 560 hp and 397 lb-ft of torque that goes to all four wheels. A six-speed manual transmission with a gated metal shifter is standard, while a six-speed, single-clutch automated manual transmission (known as "e-gear") is optional.
These Gallardo models are expected to go from zero to 60 mph in the mid-3-second range. EPA-estimated fuel economy (should you care) is 12 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined with the traditional manual and 13/20/16 with e-gear.
The Superleggera and Spyder Performante get an even more powerful version of the 5.2-liter V10 good for 570 hp and 397 lb-ft of torque. The e-gear transmission is standard. These models should hit 60 in the low 3s and they also get an additional mpg in the city, which makes the Superleggera the environmentally conscious Lamborghini.
Standard safety equipment for the 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo includes antilock brakes, stability control, side airbags and a rearview camera.
Interior Design and Special Features
Unlike previous Lamborghini models, the 2012 Gallardo provides a fairly livable cabin, thanks in large part to influence from parent company Audi. Leather and soft-touch materials adorn much of the interior as one might expect, but the switchgear, gauges and multimedia driver interface are essentially pulled from the Audi parts bin. Some might bemoan this dilution of Lamborghini's traditional Italian character, but most will be thankful that everything actually works. Further advancements can be found in the fundamentally sound driving position and the comfortable and supportive seats.
The aforementioned multimedia interface leaves something to be desired, however, as the control knob and accompanying buttons are placed next to the screen rather than near the shifter, requiring altogether too much driver attention given the Gallardo's fearsome capabilities. Furthermore, storage space is negligible, and only the most limber drivers will find ingress and egress to their liking -- par for the course in this segment, perhaps, but some competing models provide supercar performance without requiring contortionist antics to get behind the wheel.
The 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo's performance is just as otherworldly as one would expect from any exotic sports car. The V10 power plant shrieks off the line as the revs climb toward redline. Compared to the 458 Italia from arch-rival Ferrari, the Gallardo is slightly less nimble. It is, however, perfectly at home blasting down the highway and carving through high-speed sweepers. The Superleggera and Spyder Performante represent a further refinement of the Gallardo's capabilities, as these lightweight special editions are perfect for those who want to squeeze every drop of excitement possible from this lithe Lamborghini.