2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera & Spyder Review (Road Test)
Looks to die for, Italian soul & passion, German engineering, incredible noise.
Which one to pick?
- by: Alborz Fallah & Paul Maric
Having left Bugatti in France, I was under the impression that my life was pretty much complete. Sure there is still Formula 1 cars and hell maybe I can even try my luck in a MiG fighter jet one day, but it was pretty much downhill from here on.
Nothing was going to excite me any more, I was going to turn into an bitter old man that would be disappointed with pretty much anything that wasn't a Veyron - Yeah... right.
We finally landed in Bologna and after Anthony’s butchering of the Italian language, we managed to source a taxi to a Hotel which was barely 500m away from the Lamborghini factory in Sant'Agata.
It still has that Italian soul and passion, but now it comes with German reliability. Utopia does exist.
This might be the best job in the world, but it does come with a fair degree of risk. There is a certain mind set that you have to be in before you can drive a supercar, regardless of what you've read, you can't just get in one and drive away.
We woke up around 7am, packed our bags into the Hotel manager's car, which hadn't been washed since 1987, and drove down the road to Lamborghini headquarters, literally 500m away.
We went inside to introduce ourselves, I am not sure what Lamborghini was expecting, perhaps a Steve Irwin look alike or Crocodile Dundee, but here we were, from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and even all the way from Perth, Australia had arrived at Lamborghini.
The forms were signed and kangaroo toys were swapped for car keys. As we made our way over to the two cars, there was already a problem. Anthony had made himself comfortable in the Superleggera! He didn't care that Paul and I were going to do the video and reviews, he didn't care that he'd spent the last 24hrs in a Veyron – The Superleggera had already corrupted his soul.
A Lamborghini test driver came out and went over the ins and outs of the cars and there was not a doubt in his mind, that Lamborghini is number 1, and we couldn't disagree.
I had spent weeks deciding which car I'd rather drive first, the Superleggera or the Spyder, I love them both, but the thought of driving through Italy, topless, was too good to refuse. The Spyder it was.
At last, we pulled out of Lamborghini headquarters and headed into town. I didn't care that it was 10 degrees and overcast, I looked over to Karl and before I even opened my mouth, he said “do it” and the roof opened up for a glorious view of the heavens.
I started off in the Superleggera and I must admit, it’s bloody daunting when instead of a regular seat belt, one is required to assemble a four-point racing harness before setting off for the drive. The interior of the Superlegerra is the definition of automotive erotica. The doors are coated in carbon fibre, while the roof and dashboard are lathered in a superb quality suede.
You know a car has the looks, when the people of its own home town stop walking and stare as you drive past.
Once we finished up, we headed towards the hills in the old Northern Italian town of Biella. In order to do that, we had to use the fast moving Autostrade to pass Milan. The trip on Italy’s tollway gave us the chance to see what the Superleggera and Spyder were like at high speed.
Surprisingly, the Superleggera was very subtle as we followed two 911 Porsches, as they seemed to know where those nasty speed cameras were. Although you could most certainly hear the engine right behind your head, it wasn’t deafening, you could still hold a conversation in the car.
While Paul and Tony were stopping traffic just to pay a toll, Karl & I were simply handing over some cash, just like you would in any other car. The Superleggera then, isn't exactly practical - but I don't think they cared!
After an overnight stay in a lush hotel in Biella arranged by an Italian mate of Anthony’s, we headed for the Aosta hills where our video shoot took place. The higher we drove, the more snow we saw. To call the scenery amazing would be the understatement of the year. The Aosta hills gave us a chance to put the Superleggera and Spyder through their paces on a virtual switchback circuit up past the clouds.
Driving both cars back to back, it was hard not to sense a difference between the gearbox ferocity and shift times between the two cars. The Superleggera literally felt like a DSG gearbox, shifting gears with ultimate ferocity and speed. The Spyder on the other hand felt much more lax and laid back. By all means, the Spyder gearbox wasn’t slow, it just felt slow in comparison to the Superleggera.
Driving the Superleggera at speed is tremendously easy. On approach to the corner, the brakes grab with tremendous force. Turn in is extremely sharp and precise, the steering feels like it’s in contact with the road, you feel everything that meets the tyres on the ashphalt.
The roads were slightly damp, which made it easier to identify the twin’s understeer or oversteer traits. The Superleggera will oversteer well and truly before it considers understeering. Pile the ‘leggera into a bend and tap the throttle – the back end then slips out, giving the driver the ultimate controlling edge through throttle input. Around 70% of the power is sent to the rear wheels, while more can be delivered under certain driving conditions.
Open the rear-ended bonnet in the Superleggera and you’ll find a 5.0-litre V10 motor which produces 395kW and some 510Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is rated at 17L/100km combined – but expect to see a larger figure when opening the throttle up.
The feeling of winding through 2nd gear with the roof down cannot be compared to anything else in life...it may sound exaggerated, but trust me – the noise is gob-smackingly powerful. If you dare open up the taps in a tunnel, be prepared to have ringing ears, as the audio track is scandalous.
The deep, racecar like rasp is also experienced in the Superleggera, it’s a noise that’s better sampled from the outside and can be well and truly heard by drivers and passengers of the econo-boxes that are continuously passed.
Both vehicles were fitted with carbon ceramic brakes. To call these things ferocious would be an utter understatement. The brakes bite with tremendous rage and you need to recalibrate your braking foot due to the sensitive pedal pressures.
Leg room is very impressive, there’s even enough room to put small bags behind the seats – so you could even call the Gallardo practical (well...that’s the way I’d sell it to the financial controller anyway).
Black carbon ceramic brakes (front and rear) - $37,698; lifting system (for the suspension) - $7,854; luggage net behind the seats - $1,636; carbon-fibre rear spoiler - $14,137; anti-theft system – $1,728 and interior with carbon-fibre - $9,425. The options pushed our vehicle’s price up to $562,378 and frankly, that's not unsusal in the supercar class.
When it comes to these two absolutely stunning machines, taking a pick depends entirely on your preference – and not sexual preference, as suggested by some. If I was paying, I’d have a Superleggera (in that orange colour) sitting in my carport right away. I’d bet money on the fact that Alborz would probably say otherwise though and pick the Spyder!
Actually, and it hurts to admit this, but I agree with Paul. While I had originally thought I'd fall in love with the Spyder, the drive in the Superleggera had changed my mind, yes, I love convertibles and yes I love the lifestyle approach, but, how can you say no to a car which exceeds your expectations in every way imaginable?