Comeback Kid- Lamborghini Gallardo [review]

Car Specifications
4961cc Normal Aspiration
Cylinder Layout: 
Top Speed: 
309 km/h
6-Speed E-Gear (automated manual)
4.2 sec
500 bhp at 7800 rpm
510 Nm at 4500 rpm
  • All Aluminium space frame construction
  • Robotized manual, Paddle Shift

The Lamborghini Gallardo 2003

Lamborghini’s baby supercar the Gallardo(pronounced Gar-yar-do) is deliberately aimed at Ferrari’s very popular 360 Modena. For Lamborghini, entering this new segment of the market could not have been possible under the old crumbling management despite the introduction of the very respectable Lamborghini Diablo.

Only under the aegis of the new Audi-VW ownership could Lamborghini mount a creditable challenge to Ferrari, the German conglomerate bringing in fresh infusions of technology, management and not in the least, funds.

True to form, Aluminium is used extensively in the spaceframe type chassis based on principles established by Audi in their flagship A8. This results in a dry weight of 1430-kg, albeit heavier than the 360 Modena but the Gallardo has a larger 5.0-litre V10. We had the good fortune to speak to the designer of the car who jokingly told us he was originally hired as the “engine cover” designer. To the highly amused audience he said, “Yes, I design the parts that cover the engine, namely the body!” It is taken quite seriously at Lamborghini that the heart of all its cars is indeed the engine and everything else would be deemed the engine cover.

The Gallardo’s design is originally based on a styling proposal by Ital Design but was completed in-house at Lamborghini Centro Stile. The cab forward design is characterised by a chiselled look that is both masculine and muscular. Unfortunately the gull-wing doors are still exclusive to the Murcielago but it in no way spoils the rakish clean looks of this new car.

The V10 motor is an all new all alloy design incorporating all the latest technologies possible like variable cam timing, variable intake lengths and high compression ratios. To emphasise its positioning, one will note the engine is not a V8 but a V10 that produces a stunning 500 bhp from 4961cc. Torque also surpasses the magical 100 Nm per litre mark with 510 Nm at 4500 rpm. The engine designers went for a compact engine that could be lightweight with a low center of gravity and be compact enough to fit in the smaller frame of the Gallardo.

There are two choices of transmission, a manual 6-speed or a robotic type 6-speed called the E-gear which is almost identical in function to Ferrari’s F-1 transmission. The gearbox hangs out to the rear giving the Gallardo a 42%:58% rear weight bias that Lamborghini claims aids both braking and take off traction. Reverse is a button located on the dash rather than the center console. If you are familiar with a Ferrari you will be right at home in a Gallardo.

Well, it certainly looks fast on paper with 500 bhp propelling a fairly lightweight 1430-kg body. The baby Lamborghini zips to 100 km/h in exactly 4.2 seconds, similar to the Modena’s time. The e-gear system allows a brisk take off by launching at 3000 rpm and can perform a full blooded Ferrari style Launch control by disabling some of the traction control devices.

While Lamborghini’s Murcielago is an intimidating whole size larger, the more compact Gallardo is far easier to thread through the winding mountain roads and B-roads as one is not constantly worrying about trying to keep within the lane. If anything the Gallardo has an even more positive steering and chassis response than the Murcielago. The alloy double wishbone suspension all round are fed with the torque split 30:70 between front and rear which helps lend a classic rear-driven feel to the supercar.

Any supercar is daunting to drive but the Gallardo is indeed one of the friendliest Lamborghini’s to come along for a long time. This is of course relative because it still needs some acrobatics on the driver’s part to get in and out.

Apart from the road route, Lamborghini also arranged an extended track session on the Valleunga race circuit. This was the first time that we actually trashed a supercar of this calibre in a slew of braking and accident avoidance manoeuvres and it came away smelling like roses. (More like burnt tyres and brake linings actually). The road route revealed that the Gallardo is a decently comfortable machine that is fully capable on or off the track and its ride comfort is not bad at all.

What we have here is a very user-friendly supercar that retains all the traits of supercars with many of its foibles removed. It allows 90% of its owners the safe and entertaining use of 90% of its performance and handling prowess. And mind you we are talking of quite a massive potential indeed seeing that the Gallardo has 500 bhp, 510 Nm, whips to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, and is capable of race car like grip on its street legal tyres. It seems that Lamborghini has given Ferrari something to think about this time.




Body: Two-door Aluminium space frame chassis.

Engine: 4961cc, V10, 40-valves total, 4-valve heads, DOHC, Variable Cam Timing, Variable Intake Runners, Fuel Injection. Max Power: 500 bhp @ 7800 rpm Max Torque: 510 Nm @ 4500 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed E-Gear system or six-speed manual

Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion system

Brakes: Ventilated discs all round

Suspension: Alloy double wishbone system all round

Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds

Top Speed: 309 km/h

Fuel Consumption: City: 29.1 L/100 km, Highway: 13.9 L/100 km, Combined: 19.5 L/100 km

Standard Equipment: Driver and passenger airbags, side airbags, Lamborghini sound system, fully automatic air-conditioning system, remote control and central locking system with immobiliser, ESP, four wheel drive, power windows, foldable door mirrors, speed sensitive rear spoiler, bi-Xenon headlamps, alloy wheels.

Original Price: $818,000 without COE, E-gear $40,000 option. Two-year warranty


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