Lambo does a lightweight special (Gallardo Superleggera)[review]

Car Specifications
Engine: 
4691cc, Normal Aspiration
Cylinder Layout: 
V8, 32 valves, DOHC
Top Speed: 
315 km/h
Transmission: 
6-Speed E-gear (automated manual)
0-100km/h: 
3.8 seconds
Power: 
530 bhp at 8000 rpm
Torque: 
510 Nm at 4250 rpm

THE LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO SUPERLEGGERA

Photos by Barry Hathaway

Superleggera means super lightweight in Italian and in this case it means more than a lightened Lamborghini Gallardo, it really means a fettered Gallardo, optimised and focussed. In order to reach the target reduction of 100 kg, the team headed by Maurizio Reggiani decided that no less than 500 individual parts could be lightened, often times contributing mere grams at a time.

 

The logic behind lightening a car is sometimes not completely understood by casual observers who incorrectly believe that more weight means more grip. However the converse is true when one is talking about any car more than a few hundred kg and this is the reason why Formula One cars are so light although regulations prevent them from going overboard. Fortunately road going cars have no such restriction and Lamborghini has taken this opportunity to pare substantial weight from the Gallardo's frame.

The greatest contribution, 47-kg nearly half of the grand total came from the car's interior, yet it retains creature comforts like the air-conditioning and powered windows. Single piece carbonfibre moulding for the door panels and a carbonfibre seat are the main items changed but the upholstery materials like Alcantara surprisingly also save weight. Less plush carpeting and missing sound proofing also help as does the missing (optional) stereo system.

Second on the list is the exterior where again carbonfibre finds liberal use. By replacing the wing mirrors, rear diffuser, engine hood, rear spoiler, side skirt, body undertray and central tunnel cover with carbonfibre and additionally with clear polycarbonate replacing the rear glass panels and the C-pillar panels they managed to save 17.2-kg.

Getting the next 17% gets harder as the team had to examine the powertrain and its components to see how to shave off another 17.4-kg. The drive shafts have been replaced by carbonfibre ones, the front steering/suspension hubs get a comprehensive redesign to shed weight and improve the steering geometry and feel. The carbon-ceramic discs although lighter are much larger and the calipers also get beefier which negates any gains offered by the lighter discs. The new Skorpius forged magnesium alloy wheels lop off a few kg each and the use of titanium to make every wheel lug nut also provides a few hundred grams of saving.

The most difficult but most intriguing comes from re-engineering the V10. They made the intake plenum chamber from carbonfibre, made the entire exhaust system from thinner sheet metal, changed the cam covers to carbonfibre to save a further 11.8 -kg.

The last 6.8-kg come from things like bolts, screws and fasteners that were substituted for lighter ones. However one large chunk came from swapping the carpet-like finish of the front boot to a flocking press-molded resin impregnated one seen in many Japanese cars.

As a result of the better intake and exhaust plumbing systems, Lamborghini have managed to eke out another 10 bhp to make the total 530 bhp at 8000 rpm. But this was not a random grasping at straws but a carefully considered effort to reach a target power-to weight ratio figure of 2.5-kg per bhp, down from 2.75 in the Gallardo coupe.

This helps with the acceleration to 100 km/h as the Superleggera shaves 0.2 seconds off the 4.0 seconds of the current coupe. Its top speed remains the same at 315 km/h as the 10 extra horses do not make much headway at these high speeds and with the minutely higher aerodynamic drag of the Superlegerra.

 

SPECIFICATIONS


ENGINE
CAPACITY : 4961cc
CYLINDER LAYOUT : V10
VALVES : 40-valves, 4-valve heads, DOHC, Variable Cam Timing
BORE X STROKE : 82.5 x 92.8mm
COMPRESSION RATIO : 11:1
MAXIMUM POWER : 530 bhp at 8000 rpm
MAXIMUM TORQUE : 510 Nm at 4250 rpm

TRANSMISSION
TYPE : 6-speed E-gear system
DRIVEN WHEELS : AWD, Viscous center diff, front by ABD, rear with 45% locking torsen type

PERFORMANCE
TOP SPEED : 315 km/h
0-100KM/H : 3.8 seconds

SUSPENSION
FRONT : Double Wishbones, Roll bars
REAR : Double Wishbones, Roll bars

BRAKES
FRONT : 365mm Floating-type Discs, 8-pot caliper
REAR : 335mm Floating-type Discs, 4-pot caliper

TYRES
TYPE : Pirelli P-Zero Corsa
SIZE : f: 235/35 ZR 19, r: 295/30 ZR 19

SAFETY
ABS : Yes.
AIRBAGS : Yes, x2
TRACTION CONTROL : Yes, ESP, ASR, ABD

MEASUREMENTS
LENGTH : 4300mm
WIDTH : 1900mm
HEIGHT : 1165mm
WHEELBASE : 2560mm
KERB WEIGHT : 1330-kg
TURNING CIRCLE : 11.5m
Fuel Consumption: 24.8 L/100km

Original Price in 2007: $ 958,000 with COE, Two-year warranty

Summary
Although the engine only produces another 10 bhp, technically speaking lightening the car is more important than increasing horsepower. By loading the tyres less, the car can brake, corner and accelerate harder. Less weight also requires less effort to accelerate, change direction and stop. All the cars components are stressed less and conversely has more performance headroom. And this is precisely what makes this lightweight 1330 kg Gallardo such an exhilarating drive even compared to its rabidly quick alter ego. AL
Photos: 
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