The styling of this new Lamborghini model was very refreshing, somewhat angular and odd shaped in some places, but very different from anything Automobili Lamborghini SpA ever offered in the past, Fabrizio Giugiaro (ItalDesign/Giugiaro) sketched the original design down but Luc Donckerwolcke at the new Lamborghini Centro Stile did the final touches.
By using a rather long wheelbase and short overhang to both the front and rear, the initial impression of the Gallardo was rather muscular and dynamic, while retaining a 'compact' look.
The front of the Gallardo remained rather similar to the Murcielago, the 'big brother' to this new model, with the same basic shape of the air intakes in the massive bumper/spoiler combination leading towards two water radiators and an oil cooler.
The aluminum cylinder heads and block of this new engine were built at the Cosworth Technology factory (also owned by Audi AG), after which they are shipped to Györ in Hongary to be finished, much like other engines from the Audi range, this mighty engine was actually based on the Audi 4.2 V8 engine, sharing the 90 degree V-angle and bore centers, however the Lamborghini unit has a four valves per cylinder configuration instead of the 'Audi trademark' five valves and naturally two more cylinders.
Apparently Audi AG has decided to use the same engine in their new Audi super car, the Nuvolari, with a twin turbo configuration they expect to create about 600 Bhp at only 6100 rpm.
Using a dry sump lubrication system, the engine could be mounted very low into the chassis, the actual center of gravity of the Gallardo is situated at only 46 cm from the ground, with four valves per cylinder, dual-length intake manifolds, variable control for both intake and exhaust valves, this new engine pumped out 500 Bhp at 7800 rpm, with a torque value of 510 Nm at 4500 rpm, 80 percent of which was already available at only 1500 rpm, driving sensations guaranteed ...
An interesting note was that the entire aluminum space frame or so-called body-in-white of the Gallardo, built at Neckarsulm like the Audi A8 aluminum structure, only weighs about 250 kg, completely finished, much less than a traditional steel space frame chassis would be thanks to Audi AG's extensive experience in this field.
As already mentioned in pre-release articles, the doors on this Lamborghini open in the traditional way, the impressive upward swinging doors remain reserved for the big V12 powered model, another way of distinguishing the Gallardo from the Murcielago, but just like on the latter, the Gallardo has a rear wing installed that changes its angle according to the speed of the car, at 130 Km/h it moved into the upward position resulting in nearly zero upward force at high speeds, while below 80 Km/h it would return to it's original state, flush with the rest of the car.
The Gallardo presented an entire collection of airbags, the driver's and passenger's airbag were 'two-stage' models, while the airbags mounted in the seats protected both the body as the head of those seated inside this super car, other nice touches found inside the new Lamborghini were a great quality stereo and air-conditioning (straight from an Audi A8), while a big screen DVD navigation system was available as an option, again much like the one found on the Audi A8.
The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and height, while the leather seats are electrically adjustable in all directions too, finding a decent driving position shouldn't be too difficult inside the Gallardo.
Note that the new Gallardo was the first Lamborghini to be built with massive 19-inch wheels right from the factory, perhaps these would become an option on the Murcielago, which used 'only' 18 inch wheels when introduced in 2001, a nice touch is the availability of 19 inch winter tires as an option, to improve 'everyday use' of the new Gallardo.
One of the first independent road tests revealed some interesting points, the standard ESP couldn't be completely de-activated, apparently the button on the dashboard doesn't allow the Electronic Slip Prevention to be cut off entirely, it still kicks in when driving close to the limits of the car, preventing a overly 'sporty' way of driving in favor of safety.
The cars with the optional e-Gear actually have a reprogrammed ESP system, allowing a more sporty way of driving because the threshold of activation for the ESP has been increased, note however that this threshold is set at such a level that I doubt most owners will ever reach it on the open road.
The optional e-Gear offers three settings, Automatic, Normal and Sport, the first one puts the focus on comfort while Normal allows the driver to switch gears manually although when reaching the maximum rpm's, the electronic controls take over and shift upwards automatically. The Sport setting on the other hand will not 'shift up' automatically and dramatically shortens the time to shift gears.
Perhaps not perfect, but the standard six speed gearbox, although it retains the magnificent 'shifting grid' on the central tunnel, uses two cables to transmit the gearlever movement ...
The optional 'sport suspension' doesn't lower the car this time, to avoid damage to the already very low bodywork and chassis, but instead it increases 'stiffness' by 15 percent at the front and 20 percent at the rear.
The initial setup of the suspension was to have the Gallardo understeer mildly when entering a curve, while understeer would return to neutral during the curve and remain neutral on exiting.
When driving the Gallardo during an Italian test in June 2003, the car had such a smooth drive it couldn't be compared with anything else on the super car market today, while retaining a firm control of body roll while cornering and perfect handling of pitch and roll.
The rather controversial styling of the Lamborghini Gallardo caused some very emotional reactions among current Lamborghini owners, they didn't love the Murcielago either at first, and now the Gallardo is another step from the brutal Countach and magnificent Miura.
With a projected production of nearly 1200 Gallardo's each year (note that 3500 Modena's are being built each year), a lot of new buyer's are required which is probably one of the reasons why the current 50 worldwide dealers will be expanded up to 80 official dealerships ...
Labels: Luxury Cars