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Hardware: Lamborghini Gallardo

Another Four wheel drive! But this time one with 500 bhp and a top speed of around 200mph and this one definitely does not want to go offroad.

This is the Lamborghini Gallardo, their relatively new and cheaper model ... not that it's exactly a people's car but it's quite a lot cheaper than the other model, the Murcielargo, and comes in a bit over the most expensive new Porsche.

Not for the retiring

Let's stand and have a look at it -- sleek, functional (for going very fast) and extremely eyecatching. This is not a car for someone who shuns the limelight. All the way around our test drive, people stopped and looked. In one case, they actually took photos of us. In traffic, people gawped out of windows trying to get a better view and manoevred their cars to keep close. And then there's the glorious noise from the enormous twin pipes from the five litre V10. Not retiring, and not for the retiring.

Getting in is reasonably easy. The doors on this open outwards in the same way as normal cars in contrast to the Murcielargo's which open upwards. The interior is understated and almost ordinary looking except for the metal gearshift sitting in it's six speed gate. You can get steering wheel F1 style fippers as an option if you wish but the gearbox is very nice and positive to use with the manual change. Visibility is quite good but diagonally over the shoulder is pretty much not there so you have to train yourself to use the big mirrors more than with a normal car.

There's lots of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel so finding a comfortable position shouldn't be too hard for most people. Thankfully gone are the days of the "Italian" seating position which meant that when everything else was right you needed four inches grafted onto your hands to be in the correct position for fast driving and proper control (straight arms a no-no).

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Whizzzzzzzzzz

Then a whizzzz noise from the starter motor and the V10 roars into life. At this point, any normal person will have a slight feeling of apprehension. The engine that's not very far behind your head is clearly very serious about its job. This is, as its looks suggest, a very rapid piece of transport. Will the clutch be an on/off switch? Will the power band be so narrow that once we have the revs to keep it going, it will smoke it's rubber and disappear into the distance with us hanging on like we were riding a runaway horse. Whoa boy! I say Whoa!

It wasn't like that at all. The clutch is progressive and kind and the engine has tons of torque down low so smooth starts are amazingly easy to achieve. The fly-by-wire throttle seems a little stiff and unfeeling but you get used to it quickly enough. You can pootle around town in this car at small throttle openings all day if you want. The car doesn't complain at all... well, a little: as you're pootling, the car keeps saying 'Oh come on! Give me just a little stick. Please!!". Well, I'm sure it was saying something like that.

And so I floored it. I'd like to say that there was no fuss and no mess, but there we were in something that looks like a roadgoing rocket ship that was painted a bright yellow visible from over the horizon, and making a noise that could be heard from over the horizon as well. I exagerate a little, but lets just just say that when you hit the gas, it's an experience you share with all those around you.

Way out in illegal land

Needless to say, the handling limits of this car are way out there in illegal land for normal road use. On the front it has Pirelli P Zero 235/35's on 8.5 by 19's and on the back, whopping great 295/30's on 11 inch wide rims. It has four wheel drive with 30/70 front/rear torque split which is about what you'd expect with a normal offroad vehicle having 50/50 and a full-house rally 4wd having maybe 10/90.

The whole thing feels rock-solid as you drive around. The Gallardo uses an alloy monocoque with technology from parent company Audi. The older Murcielargo still uses a spaceframe type of construction which is very good as well but a monocoque is lighter and stiffer, which means increased responsiveness and feel, and so better control.

a bigger version for wallpaper is here

In the end, you're responsible

For any non-competition driver the envelope would be well beyond what they would consider possible or comfortable. With very wide low-profile rubber, the breakaway, when it comes, can be sudden and vicious, but on this car it's so far beyond what commonsense would say is reasonable that most people not only won't go there, but wouldn't get very near even if they tried. How about being totally stupid in the wet or snow? Well, ESP would try and save you, but in the end you are responsible for your own actions.

Anyway, we were in city traffic most of the time, and certainly didn't get anywhere near the limit. One interesting thing was that lifting off in mid-corner under moderate load had the front dipping in quite swiftly which made me wonder if the torque split was always 30/70 or whether the ESP was doing something interesting. ESP is the management system and it will do things for you like trying to get you back together if it thinks you're not. This might mean application of the brakes on individual wheels or various other things. ESP is normally on but can be switched off manually.

Any quibbles? The interior is a bit ordinary in the standard version. You can option it up to make it zippier but some of the fittings look quite cheap. The more expensive Murcielargo is a totally different world in this way. Driving around town you do have to be careful of traffic calming devices like humps. The Gallardo is very close to the ground and I managed to scrape on one when I wasn't paying full attention.

Messing with your reason

I suppose the Gallardo is like a super-model who likes to hang out and camp out -- she's beautiful, and for those that can afford her, practical in a slightly restricted sense. She'll also mess with your reason.

Websites:
Lamborghini UK
Lamborghini Main Site
You can get wallpapers, a video, and a screensaver here.

Thanks to Lamborghini UK... Bruce, Steve, Kelly, and others.

Some Specs
Chassis and body

Frame
Structural aluminium spaceframe, based on aluminium extruded parts
welded to aluminium casted joint elements.

 Body
Aluminium with thermoplastic "hang on" parts

 Suspension
Double wishbones front and rear suspension system, anti-roll bar,
anti-dive and anti-squat,"self adjusting" FSD dampers

 ESP
Full ESP system with ABS, ASR and ABD

 Brakes
Power vacuum, aluminium alloy calipers: 8 cylinders front caliper and 4
cylinders rear caliper.

 Ventilated discs:  365 x 34 mm front -  335 x 32 mm rear

 Steering
Power-assisted rack and pinion

 Tyres (front - rear)
Pirelli Pzero 235/35 ZR 19 - 295/30 ZR 19

 Wheels (front - rear)
Aluminium alloy: 8.5" x  19" - 11" x  19"

 Kerb-to-kerb turning circle
11.5 m

 Mirrors
External mirror with electrical closing system and heating system,
internal mirror with anti-blinding system

 Rear spoiler
Electronically controlled

 Airbags
Front "dual stage" driver and passenger airbags, side "head-thorax" airbags

 Engine

Type
10 cylinders V 90, DOHC 4 valves, 18 crankpin offset

 Displacement
4961 cc

 Bore and Stroke
 82.5 mm x 92.8 mm

 Intake system
Variable geometry

 Valve gear
chain driven, intake and exhaust continuously variable valve timing,
electronically controlled

 Compression ratio
11:1

 Maximum power
367 kW (500 hp) at 7800 rpm

 Maximum torque
510 Nm at 4500 rpm

 Emission control system
Catalytic converters with lambda sensors

 Cooling system
Two water radiators + gearbox oil cooler + engine oil cooler

 Engine management system
Electronic Lamborghini L.I.E., with individual static ignition,
multipoint sequential fuel injection, Drive-by-Wire system, OBD system

 Lubrication system
Dry sump

 Drivetrain

Type of transmission
Permanent 4-wheel drive with viscous traction system

 Gearbox
6 speed + reverse

 As optional, robotized sequential E-gear system with actuation by
 paddles on the steering column

 Clutch
Double plate  215 mm

 Rear differential
45% limited slip

 Front differential
Slip limitation by ABD function

 Performance

Top speed
309 km/h

 Dimensions

Wheelbase
2560 mm

 Overall length
4300 mm

 Overall width
1900 mm

 Overall height
1165 mm

 Track (front - rear)
1622 mm - 1592 mm

 Weight ("dry"-no fuel)
1430 kg

 Weight distribution (front - rear)
Front 42% - rear 58%

 Capacities

Fuel Tank
90 litres

 Engine oil
10 litres

 Engine coolant
20 litres
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