Each car was also equipped with the E-gear manu-matic gearbox. According to some sources, only around one percent of Lamborghinis sold worldwide leave the Sant'Agata factory with a stick shift. My only gripe with the automated system is the positioning of the steering column-mounted shift levers, which unlike those on the Murciélago seem positioned somewhat far from the wheel, and the business ends of which are shorter and more difficult to access with your hands cranked at extreme steering angles.

The E-gear transmission also works part and parcel with the button-activated performance modes: Sport and Corsa, the latter of which offers increased angles of rear slip in spite of the car's variable all-wheel drive.

Chasing Lamborghini chief test driver Giorgio Sanna around the road course at Monteblanco, it's evident all the improvements conspire to make the sum of these parts much more convincing than previous sums. Turn-in is sharper, the steering feel has come alive, the brakes are more easily modulated yet just as brutally forceful. And the acceleration, well, can be best described as LP 640-esque. This Gallardo sprints to 62 mph (100 kph in Euro terms) in an equally incredible 3.4 seconds, according to Lambo's own test data. And it must be pointed out that, quite unlike the murkier days throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when claimed power and performance figures were, shall we say, somewhat optimistic, today Lamborghini seems to err more on the conservative side of things. It could be that those acceleration figures may very well come even closer to three seconds even.

Once simply a way to aggrandize yearly production figures-albeit a rip-roaringly riotous way to do it-in this latest Superleggera configuration the Lamborghini Gallardo really seems to have come into its own, even if only in my own mind. That is to say, it's now every bit as convincing, every bit as Lamborghini, as its bigger, more elusive, and more expensive brother.

Role Play For A Day

I'm sitting on the pre-grid at Infineon Raceway; behind me is a large group of Can Am cars waiting to take to the track. My task is driving the pace car for the groups participating in the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival. It's 95 degrees in the shade, the sky is clear blue, and I've been idling for five minutes with the a/c running and the windows up. The temperature gauge hasn't moved.

This would seem hardly remarkable except for the fact that I'm driving a new Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera. A few years ago this would have been unthinkable in any Lamborghini. Memories of steam rising and the sound of the valves pounding their seats into the cylinder heads. As with other vintage exotics, sitting still caused all kinds of overheating mischief that affected more than just the powerplant. But here I sit.

This car is one of four present in the country. A good portion of the production run is spoken for and customer deliveries will have begun this summer. While the Gallardo's performance is something special-a top speed of 202 mph with the a/c running is pretty special-I'm more in awe of the engineering advances that have made it possible that Lamborghini is still with us.

The one-minute signal is given and the thundering Can Am group is ready to move. I check the field on the nav screen by switching on the rearview camera normally used for reverse. Here we go, out of the pits, up the hill; I pull the shift paddle, the E-gear shifts to Third and the Gallardo is up to speed. Spectators take pictures with their iPhones-the car, not me.

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