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Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2008) review

Published:13 May 2008

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
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  • 5 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

The first baby Lambo to crack 200mph is far from all-new, but the Gallardo LP560-4 has more to offer over the old car than simply a front bumper that looks like it was pinched from a Ferrari Enzo. More powerful than even the now-dead Superleggera, it’s also significantly more economical and less polluting too.

First of all, what does LP560-4 mean in Lamborghini terms?

As it did when the Murcielago was facelifted in 2006, Lamborghini has added a suffix to the Gallardo that will be lost on some, but is actually a tip of the hat to the company’s past. The LP stands for longitudinal posteriore and refers to the north-south engine layout, first used in the LP400 Countach, the Miura having had a transversely mounted V12. The 560 bit is the power in PS (552bhp) and the four refers to Lamborghini’s now signature four-wheel drive.

So it’s got a couple of extra ponies, eh? Simple chip and exhaust job?

Not quite. The engine still has ten cylinders but it’s been comprehensively re-engineered, the big addition being a capacity hike from 5.0 to 5.2-litres and also the fitment of direct injection which has enabled a big rise in the compression ratio from 11.8:1 to 12.5:1.

The result is 39bhp more than the old Gallardo, 30bhp more than the hardcore Superleggera version and only 19bhp less than the original Murcielago could managed from a 5.7-litre V12. Torque is up too, from 376lb ft to 398lb ft, the top speed climbs 5mph to 201mph and the 0-62mph sprint falls from 3.9sec to 3.7sec.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Lamborghini LP560-4 first drive

I bet it's a polluting beast though?

Yes, but not as much as before. Lamborghini has cut the CO2 emissions from a pretty disgraceful 400g/km to 327g/km thanks to the new engine, a 20kg reduction in kerb weight and other changes including a new Pirelli P Zero tyre that offers as much stiction as before but less rolling resistance up to 50mph. The company is aiming for a 40 percent reduction in emissions over the next couple of years. And while a lower CO2 figure won’t be a reason for many people to buy a supercar it’s certainly a reason to feel slightly less guilty about doing so.

I’m impressed. What else is new?

The E-gear paddleshift gearbox has been redesigned so that gearchanges are now down from 200 to 120ms and there’s a new control arm at the back to anchor the rear suspension under extreme loads.

The rest of the changes are mostly cosmetic: the lights are new front and rear, there are some metal covers for the getting elderly Audi switchgear on the dash and there’s that Enzo front bumper which is actually inspired by the hi-tech Lamborghini Reventon’s. It's more than cosmetic because it does actually contribute to a 31 percent improvement in downforce.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Lamborghini LP560-4 first drive

How does it compare with the old Superleggera?

Las Vegas is one of the stupidest places to launch a supercar but from the drive we did have we can say that it’s a much better road car, certainly. The Superleggera was geared for track use, it was stiff, snatchy at the limit and the fixed-back buckets seemed to be fixed at the wrong angle.

The 560-4 offers the greater comfort you’d expect of a more road-biased machine yet is actually faster and feels slightly more predictable as the limit nears. That limit is still incredibly high, far higher than in an Audi R8 for instance, which means it’s not as easy to exploit the chassis away from a race circuit.

Driving on the road you’re unlikely to get beyond the eventual loss of front-end grip, although given enough space the LP560-4 can demonstrate why a heavy rear-bias makes four by four fun. The steering doesn’t dance either, not like an Elise’s does between your fingers, but it’s perfectly weighted and gives sufficient feedback to let you place the nose confidently and accurately.

It didn’t feel particularly faster than a Superleggera but at least the direct injection hasn’t robbed any of the old engine’s rawness. Hit 4000rpm – difficult to do in Vegas - and the bassy growl is magical.

It’s another supercar smash hit for Lamborghini then?

Yes, but before you rush out and spend that lottery win, allow me to advise you on how to spec your 560-4. First, forget the E-gear transmission. It’s incredibly popular but for no reason we can see other than you don’t have to pump the clutch in London traffic. It feels impossibly crude compared to modern dual-clutch gearboxes like BMW’s M-DCT, particularly around town. And among similar single clutch ’boxes, we prefer the Ferrari Scuderia’s.

Tip number two is another money saver: don’t bother with the optional carbon brakes. The pedal feel is awful in normal driving and they’re difficult to modulate. But do go for the pure evil matte black paint, and the optional cross-spoke alloys which look great in a very 1970s manner.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Lamborghini LP560-4 first drive

Verdict

More performance than the Superleggera for significantly less money and a better car where it really counts – on the road – the LP560-4 does enough to keep the five year old Gallardo fresh and give Ferrari’s F430 a headache. But while potential customers might not care, we can’t help but think that the Lambo’s own cousin, the brilliant Audi R8, at nearly half the price is worth serious consideration.

 

 

Specs

Price when new: £147,330
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 5200cc 40v V10, 552bhp @ 8000rpm, 398lb ft @ 6500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Performance: 3.7sec 0-62mph, 202mph, 19.2mpg, 327g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1410kg(dry)/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4345/1900/1165

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  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2008) review
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2008) review
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2008) review
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2008) review
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2008) review

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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