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2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 - First Drive

New Cars+New Gear+New Technology

Karl Funke
Nov 1, 2008
Epcp_0810_05_z+2009_lamborghini_gallardo_lp560_4+las_vegas Photo 1/5   |   2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 - First Drive

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

The Next Generation Of Point And Shoot

Get any girl's number, the big screen tells us. Get into any club.

We're watching a Gallardo movie, a corporate advertisement for the new LP560-4. A pair of them-one black, one white-tear through an unnamed city, powersliding around corners and generally hooning about before slinking past downtown valet lanes and groups of attractive young women looking on wistfully. Lamborghini is trying to get our blood up for driving the car.

But mine is already up. Speaking only for myself, I could do without the club-trolling and number-collecting bits. It's probably true that three-quarters of the Gallardo's target demographic will use the car for nothing more than those two things. Hand me the keys, though, and you'd find me nowhere near the middle of a city. There must be something wrong with me.

In its roughly five years of existence, the Gallardo has become the best-selling Lambo of all time. The LP560-4 is its successor for 2009. Among other things, the new car features a completely new V10 engine that, with 243cc more displacement and direct fuel injection, puts out 552 hp at a screaming 8000 rpm, 40 hp more than the outgoing engine and only about 20 hp shy of the original Murcilago's 572hp peak. It allows acceleration to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds, according to the manufacturer. Top speed is reported to be in the neighborhood of 202 mph.

Not to be labeled as inefficient, however, the new V10 offers fuel consumption and carbon emissions that have been improved/reduced by a claimed 18 percent. Using the throttle judiciously, a Gallardo LP560 driven on the highway could attain economy figures upwards of 20 mpg.

To clear up any confusion over the name, output was initially calculated using Italian power units, Cavalli Vapore (CV). The new Gallardo makes 560 CV, hence the 560 designation. One CV equals about 0.986 SAE horsepower-ergo the adjusted 552 peak.

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The number four stands for four-wheel drive, because along with the new powerplant, the Gallardo's all-wheel-drive system has also been re-engineered. A central viscous coupling distributes torque by 30/70 percent front to rear, and the robotized E-gear transmission now features Sport and Corsa modes that allow for increasingly quicker gear changes. Corsa switches gears some 40 percent faster than normal, and allows more exaggerated slip-angle leeway for extra tail-out attitude when careening around corners. There's also a Thrust mode that gives maximum acceleration from standstill by ensuring the throttle valve angle and clutch are optimally adjusted to one another.

A six-speed manual transmission is also available, but Lamborghini reports that only about 10 percent of customers opt for it.

The driving experience uncovers no real surprises. The car is stink-fast and nearly impossible to upset in normal dry-pavement conditions. The cornering is just too flat, the grip too massive. Not that either of those is a bad thing. It's supremely confidence-inspiring, about as point-and-shoot as a super sports car gets.

The testdrive includes stints on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on a modified infield road course, where Corsa mode demonstrates its willingness to allow a bit more rear slip. But with so much grip, you'd be hard pressed to describe a perfect sideways slide, as the tail slips only slightly before all four wheels dig back into the pavement and pull things straight in what seems like nanoseconds.

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All the test cars had E-gear and the optional carbon-ceramic brake assemblies (CCB). On the road, the brakes are possibly the most disappointing aspect; under normal use, they don't bite as hard as expected and the pedal feels somewhat lifeless. On the track, though, they offer consistent performance under extreme flogging and a reasonably hard bite once they come up to temperature. They could be worthwhile if you dream of taking your Lambo to the track and you're solvent enough to lay down an extra $10,000 on top of the LP560's $201,000 starting point.

E-gear delivers extremely crisp, torso-thumping shifts under hard use, especially so at throttle angles approaching full. But predictably, the single-clutch system executes clunky, awkward shifts in full automatic mode. You're better off shifting it yourself.

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The refurbish also includes updated aesthetics and aerodynamics. The front end in particular seems to have inherited styling cues from the super-limited Reventn, with those massive corner bumper inlets and a distinctly pointed nose. A cluster of daytime running LEDs arranged in a "Y" pattern burn brightly in the centers of the headlamps, echoed by similar triple arrays found in the taillights. The body also features a modified rear diffuser that punctuates overall aerodynamic efficiency improved by some 31 percent, along with a rearview camera cleverly integrated into a small fin on the independent rear spoiler.

The interior is surprisingly comfortable and spacious enough for my taste, nearly every surface skinned in fine leather. You could use this car every day if you were so inclined. Lamborghini's individualization program allows customers to personalize their car with an almost limitless palette of colors, along with contrasting stitching, plus Alcantara and carbon-fiber trim packages. So it's feasible to create a one-off car that looks unlike any other LP560-4-an important consideration for the number-collecting, club-hopping set.

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And therein lies my one big gripe. As we do the obligatory crawl up Las Vegas Boulevard, turning heads with each raucous blip of the throttle, I can't get that corporate film out of my head. A slow cruise up the boulevard could be about as much excitement as most of these cars will ever see. Considering the incredible performance contained beneath those blade-like polygons, it could be the ultimate injustice.

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Longitudinal mid-engine, all-wheel drive

5.2-liter V10, dohc, 40-valve

Six-speed manual; optional six-speed E-gear sequential manual

Double wishbone front and rear, antiroll bars, antidive, and antisquat

Power-vacuum aluminum alloy calipers, ventilated steel rotors; optional ventilated carbon ceramic rotors (CCB)

Length/Width/Height (in.):171.0/74.8/45.9Wheelbase: 100.7 in.Curb Weight: 3,307 lb

Peak Power: 552 hp @ 8000 rpmPeak Torque: 398 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm0-62 mph: 3.7 sec.Top Speed: 202 mph

What We Like:
Insane acceleration, raucous exhaust, blade-like styling

What We Don't:
The fact that it could be regarded as a mere "accessory"

Price Tag

By Karl Funke
177 Articles



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