Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

The Next Generation Of Point And Shoot

Get any girl's number, the big screen tells us. Get into any club.

We're watching a Gallardo movie, a corporate advertisement for the new LP560-4. A pair of them-one black, one white-tear through an unnamed city, powersliding around corners and generally hooning about before slinking past downtown valet lanes and groups of attractive young women looking on wistfully. Lamborghini is trying to get our blood up for driving the car.

But mine is already up. Speaking only for myself, I could do without the club-trolling and number-collecting bits. It's probably true that three-quarters of the Gallardo's target demographic will use the car for nothing more than those two things. Hand me the keys, though, and you'd find me nowhere near the middle of a city. There must be something wrong with me.

In its roughly five years of existence, the Gallardo has become the best-selling Lambo of all time. The LP560-4 is its successor for 2009. Among other things, the new car features a completely new V10 engine that, with 243cc more displacement and direct fuel injection, puts out 552 hp at a screaming 8000 rpm, 40 hp more than the outgoing engine and only about 20 hp shy of the original Murcilago's 572hp peak. It allows acceleration to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds, according to the manufacturer. Top speed is reported to be in the neighborhood of 202 mph.

Not to be labeled as inefficient, however, the new V10 offers fuel consumption and carbon emissions that have been improved/reduced by a claimed 18 percent. Using the throttle judiciously, a Gallardo LP560 driven on the highway could attain economy figures upwards of 20 mpg.

To clear up any confusion over the name, output was initially calculated using Italian power units, Cavalli Vapore (CV). The new Gallardo makes 560 CV, hence the 560 designation. One CV equals about 0.986 SAE horsepower-ergo the adjusted 552 peak.

The number four stands for four-wheel drive, because along with the new powerplant, the Gallardo's all-wheel-drive system has also been re-engineered. A central viscous coupling distributes torque by 30/70 percent front to rear, and the robotized E-gear transmission now features Sport and Corsa modes that allow for increasingly quicker gear changes. Corsa switches gears some 40 percent faster than normal, and allows more exaggerated slip-angle leeway for extra tail-out attitude when careening around corners. There's also a Thrust mode that gives maximum acceleration from standstill by ensuring the throttle valve angle and clutch are optimally adjusted to one another.

A six-speed manual transmission is also available, but Lamborghini reports that only about 10 percent of customers opt for it.

The driving experience uncovers no real surprises. The car is stink-fast and nearly impossible to upset in normal dry-pavement conditions. The cornering is just too flat, the grip too massive. Not that either of those is a bad thing. It's supremely confidence-inspiring, about as point-and-shoot as a super sports car gets.

The testdrive includes stints on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on a modified infield road course, where Corsa mode demonstrates its willingness to allow a bit more rear slip. But with so much grip, you'd be hard pressed to describe a perfect sideways slide, as the tail slips only slightly before all four wheels dig back into the pavement and pull things straight in what seems like nanoseconds.

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