Although it's probably difficult for most people to think of a $200,000 automobile as "affordable," that's the position the Lamborghini Gallardo finds itself in within the Lambo product lineup. But no matter -- sports cars with exotic looks and the performance to match have a built-in ownership audience.
Since its introduction, the mission for this "baby Lamborghini" has been to maintain the style and attitude of Lamborghini's 12-cylinder cars but be more livable in everyday use. It's been a successful strategy, as there's been no shortage of takers who rightly lust after such a usable and alluring sports car. In fact, the Gallardo has become this Italian automaker's best-selling model ever.
It is true that the Gallardo lacks the outrageous spirit and flair so often associated with the company's more expensive or legendary offerings. But the trade-off of a little spirit for a lot of functionality has been a good one, and there's no doubt that the Gallardo is a true, world-class exotic.
Current Lamborghini Gallardo
The exotic Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 is currently available in a coupe body style and as a spyder convertible. The name LP560-4 refers to its engine position ("longitudinale posteriore" or longitudinal rear), its European horsepower measurement (560 ps) and that all four wheels are powered. There are also two lightweight versions: the LP 570-4 Superleggera coupe and LP 570-4 Spyder Performante
The Gallardo LP560-4 is powered by a 5.0-liter V10 good for 552 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission with gated metal shifter is standard, while an automated six-speed sequential-shift manual transmission known as e-gear is optional. The LP570-4 models benefit from some clever tuning to produce 562 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. The e-gear transmission is standard. Expect 0-60 times in the high 3-second range for the LP560-4 and the low 3-second range for the LP570-4.
In terms of layout and design, the Lamborghini Gallardo is a true exotic. To keep weight down, the chassis is a composite blend of alloy stampings, extrusions and castings. And except for the traditionally opening steel doors (no scissors), the exterior is constructed of thermoplastic-formed panels. To further reduce weight, the Superleggera and Spyder Performante receive carbon-fiber exterior and interior components, polycarbonate rear and side windows and lighter 19-inch wheels.
Inside, the Gallardo's handsome furnishings sublimely marry form with function and offer a surprising level of comfort for a vehicle of this type. Credit is certainly due to the influence of parent company Audi, whose expertise with interior design has been of no small benefit since the Volkswagen Group purchased Lamborghini in the late 1990s. The impact is obvious given the precisely fitting leather and soft-touch materials.
Despite the fact that this is an exotic sports car, seating is comfortable enough to accommodate the occasional road trip. Though not as flamboyant as its extroverted exterior, the interior styling still befits a vehicle in this price range. Storage space is tight, though, with a minimal amount of room available behind the seats and in the nose-mounted trunk.
But once behind the wheel, you'll gladly leave everything behind in exchange for the sweet, sonorous symphony of its V10 at full throttle. With 500-plus horses at your command, the Gallardo is capable of spine-compressing speed in any gear. At wide-open throttle, the lusty V10 plays a veritable mechanical symphony in keeping with the car's Italian heritage. The big V10 and all-wheel-drive system add quite a bit of mass, but in return the AWD system gives Gallardo drivers extra traction when the road ahead is slick and unfamiliar.
Used Lamborghini Gallardo Models
The Lamborghini Gallardo debuted for 2004 in a coupe body style only. Originally, it was powered by a 493-hp version of the 5.0-liter V10. The same transmission options were available, although e-gear was improved over the years for better shift response. For 2006, the lineup expanded to include the spyder convertible with an automatic folding soft top, and a limited-production SE model featuring 520 hp, shortened gear ratios, revised suspension tuning, quickened steering, better tires, a new exhaust, special trim and two-tone color schemes. Other than the colors and trim, all the SE's mechanical improvements were made to the standard Gallardo later that model year. For '07, a change in horsepower measurement technique resulted in a lowering of hp to 512.
Produced only for 2008 was the Gallardo Superleggera. This coupe-only model was modified for even better performance. It featured 522 hp, slightly different suspension settings and an approximate 150-pound-lighter curb weight thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber and reduced feature content. It would be a rare used car find.
For 2009, the current Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 arrived along with a number of updates. Compared to those that came before, it lost 45 pounds and gained 40 additional horses as well as quicker e-gear shift times. There was also revised exterior styling, particularly around the rear fascia and taillight area, which softened the Gallardo's angularity a bit. Chassis rigidity was also stiffened. Finally, the Gallardo LP560-4 differs from the previous Gallardo from rear suspension modifications adopted from its Audi R8 platform-mate, which enhanced the Gallardo's already otherworldly cornering capabilities.
There was no Gallardo Spyder for '09, but it was reintroduced for 2010 with the same changes made the previous year for the LP560-4. That year also introduced the 542-hp, rear-drive-only Valentino Balboni special edition (of only 250 examples) in honor of the noted Lamborghini test-driver's retirement. For the 2011 model year, the 570-4 Superleggera coupe and the 570-4 Spyder Performante convertible both debuted.