I've got to be honest for a moment. I never really liked the Gallardo. I mean really liked it, instead of merely liking it.
Don't get me wrong; its sheer audacity and extroverted nature, not to mention flat-out speed, made and make it a blast to drive. There just always seemed to be something missing, some gap in the genome that kept it from being entirely convincing.
The new Superleggera changes that. This is definitely a Gallardo I'd own.
"Superleggera" translates to "superlight" and the company's mantra for this model is described simply as "more power, less weight." In addition to shedding about 154 pounds from the Gallardo LP 560-4's dry weight through expanded use of materials like carbon fiber, making it Lamborghini's lightest road car, power output from the mid-rear-mounted V10 is bumped by an additional 10 hp. This gives the Superleggera a power to weight ratio of 5.18 pounds per horsepower unit. The slight power increase was accomplished through engine management trickery; the company also claims improved fuel economy and fewer emissions by upwards of 20 percent.
The lightweight philosophy employed in this car also gives us a glimpse of Lamborghini's future. In the coming years the company will have invested heavily in lightweight technologies like carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), thus pairing the traditional stratospheric engine outputs with increasingly lightweight body shells. Research and development re-investment has been bumped up by more than 30 percent over previous levels according to Lamborghini top brass, and various partnerships have been formed with experts in lightweight material construction, like one recently formed with aerospace pioneer Boeing.
The Superleggera official press launch could not have been more different than that of the LP 560-4 three years ago. In the middle of the glitzy, neon-soaked hot mess that is Las Vegas, the then-latest Gallardo iteration was touted as a potential fashion accessory. Lamborghini literally put on a fashion show on a 50-foot banquet table that doubled as a runway, complete with long-limbed, sulking Italian models.
This time much more time was given to explore the new car's innate performance capabilities, the whole of the test drive taking place on the newly completed Monteblanco Circuit outside Seville, Spain. It was an ideal venue to generate appreciation for the truly great performer the Gallardo has become: tighter, sharper and more incisive, and yes, even faster. Myriad small changes have added up to an even more visceral driving experience.
In addition to lighter weight, more power, and better efficiency, focus was given to improving overall aerodynamics. The front bumper has been revised with larger corner scoops and a central carbon splitter for better cooling and a dangerous, sharp-edged look-making it look like a baby SV in many respects. The underbody is fully flat and incorporates new sill elements and an aggressive rear diffuser.
The pictured wing is a factory option and shaped to improve downforce at high speeds. Each test car was also fitted with the optional carbon ceramic brake package, comprising eight-piston aluminum front calipers, four-piston rears, and massive composite brake rotors. Fixed-back carbon seats are standard, and four-point harnesses (available as a factory option) were present in about half of the test cars. Additional race-bred options include an in-cockpit fire extinguisher and a steel roll cage.
A host of aesthetic options are available through Lamborghini's Ad Personum program, including extended carbon interior trim inside both the cockpit and engine bay, contrasting interior stitching, Alcantara everything, and body-colored brake calipers.