Driven: 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera

By Matt Davis

April 02, 2010

—Seville, Spain

More torture for us. We are now being forced to do nearly thirty laps all-out on a gorgeous circuit in southern Spain in Lamborghini’s latest hot performer, the 2011 Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera. You may recall the previous generation Gallardo limited-run Superleggera that we tried in early 2007 and that was a goodie, but it didn’t honestly get the full-on treatment and those shortfalls just slightly flawed the drive experience.

This time, Lamborghini has gone about 9.75 on a scale of ten when it comes to all-out re-engineering in all the right little ways. Nothing helps us notice all of what works so well here more than doing lots of hot laps at the 2.8-mile long circuit at Monteblanco in southern Spain. The weather was ideal for exactly this test, too, so we really ripped into it.

The eleven curves, long main straight, and several decent elevation changes, also left their mark on us as we threw the Superleggera too and fro without much mercy. Right out of the main straight, by the braking point having reached nearly 170 miles per hour, there’s a second-gear tight right that requires massive braking forces to set it up right and get off to a good start on every lap. The carbon ceramic optional brake discs aided in this excitement all day long without complaining a bit. That the discs are still optional when every single buyer of a Superleggera paying $237,600 will buy the ceramics did, however, make us complain. It’s shameless profiteering and this sort of crap marketing needs to go away once and for all.

Our favorite test-the-car’s-limits curve was Turn 2, though, a long, sweeping left that climbs and then drops down, and is even feeling a little off-camber. Through here, we had to really stay on throttle through third gear and at around 6500 rpm, but the drama was steady eddy. The finest feeling through here was noting how much the 4wd chassis and differential was working while it stayed up on its toes. This driving dynamic is the real Superleggera experience, beyond the obvious go-kart qualities that are more enhanced in turn after turn.

Throughout this terrific track day, we couldn’t help but feel sad knowing that about as high a percentage of Superleggera buyers will ever drive their car like this as SUV buyers who really head offroad for overland adventures. This car belongs on the track almost exclusively. The first practical reason for this opinion being that the suspension is perfect on the smooth and closed-circuit track, while its lack of adaptability makes the Superleggera really terrible on everyday rough roads and around town. But out here at Monteblanco we were raving about the quality of the ride and handling.

The six-speed Graziano automated manual with no torque converter has found its perfect home here in exactly this car and in these conditions. In full automatic mode for tooling around town or cruising, again, it’s no fun, as we have noted on other cars that still use this gearbox (mainly for its strength, light weight, and compactness). In Sport mode, things get better and more in keeping with the Graziano’s characteristics. But in Corsa (i.e. Race) the Lamborghini e-gear automated manual is perfect when seeking the stress limits of the powertrain and chassis on a hot track. A six-speed manual is still available as a no-cost option, but accounts for only three percent of all Lamborghini sales at this point.

It’s the still bug’s legs-like shift paddles fixed to the steering column that absolutely must be swapped out as soon as possible by Lamborghini. Their positioning and small size are totally wrong and Lamborghini knows it. The company will have a fix it can afford within two years, we are told. In the meantime we occasionally flick on the windshield wipers or the brights, or we have to remove one of our hands to shift up out of some turns while going at dangerous speeds and carrying heavy g-forces. The paddles need to be exactly as they are on the Maserati Granturismo S—long, pretty wide, and still fixed to the steering column but reachable from all hand positions on the wheel.

The weight here dry is stated at 2954 pounds, while curb weight comes to real-world mass of 3240 pounds, more or less. That’s 154 pounds down on the standard 560-4 Gallardo and we feel the difference, sometimes the 570-4 SL coming off weightless practically in several transitional moments at the track. The raw speed number of acceleration to 60 mph should hit 3.2 seconds, while 125 mph will happen in ten seconds flat, in the right hands.

The ESP can be automatically loosened up by altering the gearbox to Sport or Corsa, and frankly the lap times are better in pure Corsa mode. But for those value-added oversteer shots we simply must have, with ESP fully off it is dead easy to throw out that tail once the understeering tendency has finished and we’ve brought the car sufficiently around. The controllability even in these crazed moments is amazing, with the 30-70-percent torque split of the viscous coupling AWD. The reactions as needed between the front and rear axles are even faster than we remember.

At the highest speeds here, downforces have been upped by 50 percent with a huge lower chin scoop and an equally pronounced rear diffuser that is complemented technically and cosmetically by a large fixed rear wing. The 52-inch wide wing on our testers this day is the optional one for serious stability concerns under such conditions as these. The standard smaller wing – ordered by perhaps one percent of Superleggera buyers according to Lamborghini – was not even on view at this event.

That 562-horsepower 5.2-liter V-10 never sounded so good either, though we still might like it to scream a little more at max revs. The four exhaust tips are sprouting from two exhaust manifolds, the outer two added pipes containing the bypass valves of the Sport or Corsa setups so that the voice grows. The nineteen-inch wheels with P Zero Corsa tires are simply remarkable in how they cling yet know when to let go ever so slightly so we can build a very natural driving pace and trust.

At the end of the day, we adore this package even though we know its limitations. And this time around, even North America can get the carbon-fiber backed Sport seats as an option because they’ve got a design that now appeals to the safety police regarding how they interact with side airbags. Lamborghini wants to build around 250 Superleggeras per year and the life cycle is not limited to just one year or two.

2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera
Engine: V-10, 5.2 liters, 40v
Output: 562 hp / 398 lb-ft
Top Speed: 202 mph
Weight: 3240 lb
0-60 MPH (est.): 3.2 sec
Base Price: $237,600
Price as Tested (est.): $260,000

+ WR Classic Video: Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4