Road Tests

Road Test: Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Time 13 years ago

WHILE Japanese supercars have famously suffered from a lack of charisma in the past, that’s not a criticism you can level at Lamborghini.

Even with the calming influence of Audi at the controls, machines like the Gallardo have Italian style oozing from every panel gap. Only now, the passion is matched with decent build quality and supermini-simple driveability.

Facelifted earlier this year, Lamborghini’s entry level offering is mightier than ever. The front and rear ends now features harder-edged bumpers and air intakes, while the lights have been reworked to give an even sleeker appearance. In the metal, the Gallardo is stunning.

With a roofline that comes up to your waist and overhangs kept to an absolute minimum, it’s lack of clutter or unneccesary detail makes the GT-R look bulky and cartoon-like.

Slide inside the LP560-4 – easier said than done if you’re near the six feet mark – and you’re instantly cocooned in a leather and Alcantara heaven.

In true supercar style, the shallow windows and solid rear bulkhead create a dark, snug driving environment, while the narrow sport seats force you into a laid-back position. But while the materials impress, the Gallardo isn’t perfect.

The centre console is packed with Audi switchgear and controls which, although solid and easy to use, are exactly as you would find in a £16,000 A3. Considering that the Lamborghini costs £126,000 more than the entry-level Audi, it’s a shame that no effort has been made to give it a more bespoke look.

But while some aspects of the interior design get black marks, it’s hard to find anything negative to say about the way the Gallardo drives. As part of the facelift package, Lamborghini replaced the original 5.0-litre V10 with a new 5.2-litre version which generates 552bhp.

It’s a glorious engine and perfectly suited to the Gallardo’s nature. With a gutteral bark at low revs and an utterly unique 10 cylinder howl at speed, it accelerates with ferocity and has a seemingly bottomless pit of torque regardless of what gear you’re in.

The heavily revised e-gear transmission is equally impressive. Although the Nissan has the edge when it comes to shift quality, the Gallardo isn’t far behind and flits between ratios with consummate ease.

Drivers can choose between three gearbox settings – Normal, Sport and Corsa – with the changes getting sharper and more savage at each level. The Corsa programme also alters the exhaust settings so that the distinctive Lamborghini V10 howl is even more vocal.

Like the GT-R, the Gallardo uses a four-wheel system to transfer its power to the road. However, on the road, the two feel completely different. Where you can feel the Nissan actively juggling the torque between front and rear axles, the Gallardo has a more subtle set-up, finely dividing out drive to deliver astonishing traction out of corners.

It may not have the drama of the GT-R, but it’s every bit as effective and a lot more satisfying.

At £140,300, the Gallardo is a pricey machine. Factor in the e-gear transmission and essential options such as the rear-view camera, and the figure is over £150,000. However, for sheer presence and desirability, they don’t come much better than this.

Lambo vs GTR: Read the GT-R road test here

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Price: £140,350

Engine: 5.2-litre V10, 552bhp

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0-60mph: 3.9 secs

Top speed: 202mph

Economy: 15.2mpg

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