LAS VEGAS — Lamborghini's baby supercar is all grown up. Boasting more power, less weight and slicker styling cues, Lambo's new Gallardo LP560-4 is closing in on its big brother Murciélago while retaining a sticker price of $201,000—roughly 20 grand less than last year's edgy Gallardo Superleggera.
The LP560-4, which we first spotted in March, has the same power-to-weight ratio as the Superleggera, but achieves its performance goals with much friendlier dynamics. The new 5.2 liter V10 pumps out 560 hp and 398 lb.-ft. of torque, and this ten-banger utilizes a high-pressure Bosch direct injection system with revised variable valve timing to improve fuel consumption and C02 emissions by a whopping 18 percent. Optimized cylinder heads aid combustion efficiency, and reduced engine mass helps contribute to an overall weight loss of 44 pounds. The redesigned 6-speed eGear transmission features Normal, Sport and Corsa modes, the latter of which reduces gear change times by 40 percent. All these tweaks are good for a claimed 0-62 mph time of 3.7 seconds, and a top speed of 202 mph.
Unsprung mass has also been trimmed from suspension and brake components, which are revised for LP560-4 duty, and an optional carbon ceramic brake system offers 1.2 g of stopping power for $10,000 more. The LP560-4's larger vents gobble more air for the V10, and a resculpted rear diffuser increases aerodynamic efficiency by 31 percent. The taillights' Y-shaped LEDs recall the Miura Concept, Murciélago LP640 and Reventón, though to our eyes the LP560's rear end is starting to resemble the car's other cousin, the mouthwatering Audi R8.
Climb inside the LP560-4, and you'll enjoy a purposeful cabin that can be outfitted with leather, Alcantara or carbon-fiber accents. The familiar Audi-sourced nav system and A/C controls are easy to use, and the tach's 8500 rpm redline is one of the few clues to the outrageous side of this Lambo's personality.
Off the line, the new Gallardo feels more eager than the outgoing model, with a power curve that's smoother and more robust at the lower end of the powerband. Plant the throttle, and the engine sounds a bit less husky than the prior version; this V10 is more aircraft-like, and while open-window cruising reveals more bass notes from the exhaust, cabin noise is generally less boomy than in the 2008 Gallardo.
Acceleration gets more ferocious at higher rpms, but the buildup of power is smooth and manageable—hardly as high-strung as earlier iterations. The eGear transmission seemed less clunky during laps here at Las Vegas Speedway, though Sport and Corsa modes produced appropriately abrupt (and sometimes violent) shifts.
When revs are high and the V10 is working hard, the LP560-4 is in its element, though it exhibited more flexibility at lower rpms than we were expecting. Launch control is activated with ESP off, Corsa mode selected and both pedals depressed until the engine revs to 5000 rpm; lift the brake, and you'll be whacked into your seat with a thud of satisfying, skid-free acceleration.
On the track, 120 mph speeds down the banked oval here feel planted and stable, and the LP560-4's all-wheel-drive system boosts confidence throughout the infield course. This 3307-pound Lambo pushes a bit with excessive entry speeds, but a lift of the throttle quickly tucks in the nose and neutralizes the car's balance. Weight transfer is transparent enough that the car could easily be pointed using the right pedal. Heavy throttle on exit can slip the rear tires, though in Corsa mode the fun is eventually curtailed by ESP. Lateral grip is impressive, though the car sometimes felt like it needed precise steering, brake, and throttle inputs in order to avoid understeering.
The carbon ceramic brakes on our test car took some getting used to. Press the pedal, and the first inch or so doesn't do much of anything. But just past that point, the stopping comes on with seemingly exponential force; we never felt that the brakes couldn't dish out amazing deceleration (especially at the track), but we later had a few disconcerting moments in stop-and-go traffic.
The Bottom Line
Despite being a bit rough around the edges, the Gallardo LP560-4's hardcore personality makes it an entertaining drive at any speed. It may be in its element getting tossed around a racetrack at triple-digit velocities, but with greater engine flexibility and better handling, this stylish 200-mph supercar has become sexier than ever.