2009 Lamborghini Gallardo Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 26, 2008

The 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 is an edgy supercar with a better grip on the world.

Experts from TheCarConnection.com were among the first journalists to drive the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. These experiences plus our reviews of other trusted opinions from the Web enable TheCarConnection.com team to offer you a definitive opinion on this hyper-sportscar. This review also compares the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

The 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 gives auto writers from across the Web—and the editors of TheCarConnection.com—the chance to exercise some vocabulary to describe its fantastic, outrageous shape. The newest version of the Gallardo has tuned out some of its excessive gills and slits, leaving a sophisticated, exciting shape underlined by LED driving lights and punctuated by a big glass panel that lays bare a big performance heart.

The new Gallardo breathes supercar performance from each of its 10 cylinders and all four of its driven wheels. At its core is a 552-horsepower V-10 engine that can hurtle it to 60 mph in about 3.7 seconds, on its way to a stratospheric top speed of more than 200 mph. Hyper speeds are matched to stable four-wheel-drive handling and a quick-shifting e-gear transmission with three modes and paddles for video-game-style operation (a traditional manual is available but rare).

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Cramped and difficult to enter and exit, the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo nonetheless has a high-quality cabin and makes all the right noises. The interior’s slathered in leather, but it’s tough to slide in even under the flat-bottomed steering wheel. There’s no vast expanse of room nor is there much storage inside, but making up for it all is the rippling noise created right behind your head.

There’s no crash-test data for the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, but safety equipment is plentiful. However, visibility out of its gun-slit windows is a major issue.

9

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo

Styling

The 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 cuts a distinctive shape in the atmosphere, and suits driver and passenger with a purposeful interior.

The 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 gives auto writers from across the Web—and the editors of TheCarConnection.com—the chance to exercise some vocabulary to describe its fantastic, outrageous shape.

The “first model completely designed under the watchful and sensible eye of Audi,” Motor Authority reports, the newest version of the Gallardo is “more in to line with the Murcielago and recent Reventon concept. You can clearly see the family resemblance in the new model with giant air dams and new lights in the front.” It’s “more aggressive and more elegant than before,” Car and Driver says, with “a bit more of a chin,” “LED daytime running lights,” and “smoothed and filled” body surfaces that replace the “dozens of gills on the original Gallardo.” Motor Trend exclaims, “Behind the cosmetically reshaped nose, between the all new Y-styled, LED head and taillights, is a vehicle truly worthy of such an affected alphanumeric name.” It’s plainly “sexier than ever,” Popular Mechanics says succinctly.

Moving to the rear of the car, Edmunds observes that the Gallardo “displays a raging V10 engine under a hatch that's inset with glass.” The rear end’s been updated, Motor Authority reports, “with cooling vents, new rear lights and bumper plus a redesigned diffuser all contributing to its changed appearance.” They also note the Gallardo’s newfound resemblance to its corporate cousins: “In what may be a subconscious nod to its German cousin, the LP560-4’s rear looks a little like the Audi R8’s.”

The 2009 Gallardo’s cabin sports “a purposeful cabin that can be outfitted with leather, Alcantara or carbon-fiber accents,” Popular Mechanics says. “The familiar Audi-sourced nav system and A/C controls are easy to use, and the tach's 8500 rpm redline is one of the few clues to the outrageous side of this Lambo's personality.”

TheCarConnection.com spent a day at the racetrack in Las Vegas with the latest Lamborghini and got familiar with its sleek strakes, curves, and stunning proportions. The newest flavor of the Gallardo certainly looks more refined than the version that’s been plying streets and road courses the past few years, but it’s still supercar all the way, sporting a deep flying wedge updated with new details like those LED running lights. More than the latest generation of Ferraris, the latest Lambos look like outrageous performers—and the “entry-level” Gallardo LP560-4 is far more cutting edge than the bulbous Porsche 911 and the more reserved Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

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2009 Lamborghini Gallardo

Performance

Supercar power and handling vault the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 into a new performance stratosphere.

The 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 breathes supercar performance from each of its 10 cylinders and all four of its driven wheels, in the estimation of Web-wide car writers and the supercar enthusiasts at TheCarConnection.com.

The newest Gallardo is “a much more vicious machine,” Motor Authority thinks. It’s about 52 pounds lighter than the previous Gallardo, and with better aerodynamics, it’s “a far more formidable track weapon than the standard Gallardo,” they observe. Its chief weapon, though, is obviously its 5.2-liter V-10 engine. The changes for 2009 result “in a significant spike in output to 552 horsepower at 8000 rpm (from 512) and 398 pound-feet of torque (from 376),” Car and Driver reports. Named for its European power output (560 PS, the equivalent of those 552 hp) and its four-wheel-drive powertrain, the LP560-4 can catapult to 62 mph “in 3.7 seconds,” Motor Authority adds, and reach a top speed of more than 200 mph, Lamborghini claims. At speed, “the engine emits a deep bellow when pushed, and is most brutal in the lower end of the rev-range where it seems to summon the most force.”

The Gallardo LP560-4 offers a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed “e-gear” transmission that uses paddle shifters to control the clutch action, no clutch pedal needed. It’s found in about 90 percent of all Gallardos sold in the U.S., and it’s been reworked for this year to include a quicker-shifting Corsa mode, Edmunds reports. “As before, there's no console-mounted shift lever in sight: just a trio of flat buttons labeled 'Sport,' 'A' (for automatic) and 'Corsa,' plus a pair of shift paddles on the steering wheel and just two pedals.” The shift modes progress from softest A to faster Sport to Corsa—which can be “quite brutal,” Car and Driver says. It’s “appropriate only in 10/10th driving. Anything less, and the Sport mode is a far better compromise—still quick but not neck breaking.” Popular Mechanics agrees, noting the “eGear transmission seemed less clunky during laps here at Las Vegas Speedway, though Sport and Corsa modes produced appropriately abrupt (and sometimes violent) shifts.”

In addition, the Gallardo has a “thrust launch control [that] can be enabled for demon standing starts,” Edmunds adds. It’s useful for goading the four-wheel-drive system to direct “all of that equine fury to the pavement.” The Gallardo’s four-wheel-drive system uses “a viscous-type center differential,” Edmunds notes, that “divides the torque between front and rear: 30 percent front and 70 percent rear in this case.”

Handling is much improved, most reviewers felt. “Gone is the instability during high speed cornering and the tendency to understeer that were the negative hallmarks of the Gallardo,” Motor Authority says. Edmunds feels the Gallardo’s “thoughtfully tuned springs and dampers filter out more of the impacts than we expected on the open road,” and Car and Driver observes “the feeling of porkiness of the Gallardo has been mitigated somewhat, and body roll, if there is any, is absolutely undetectable.” Popular Mechanics observes the Gallardo “pushes a bit with excessive entry speeds, but a lift of the throttle quickly tucks in the nose and neutralizes the car's balance.” Overall, they thought, “the car sometimes felt like it needed precise steering, brake, and throttle inputs in order to avoid understeering.”

One aspect of performance that brought complaints is the Gallardo’s available carbon-ceramic brakes. They “lack proper feel for stop-and-go traffic, a problem we’ve noticed on a number of other cars fitted with them,” Motor Authority says. Edmunds agrees: “When the CCBs get up to temperature on the track, they bite like mad and haul the Lambo down to a stop in a hurry, but on the street they run cooler and tend to feel a bit erratic.”

The Gallardo’s total performance package is stunning. Motor Trend says it best: “the LP560-4's attempt to violate Newton's second law is a comprehensive assault on the senses. Getting kicked in the ass a split second before being shot from a cannon is probably the closest approximation.”

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2009 Lamborghini Gallardo

Comfort & Quality

Tight, cramped, and with few concessions to comfort, the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 is nonetheless just about perfect.

Cramped and difficult to enter and exit, the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo nonetheless has a high-quality cabin and makes all the right noises.

Supercars are usually tightly confined and meager on storage space, and the Gallardo is no different, Car and Driver observes. The LP560-4’s “freshened interior is a decent step up in terms of refinement, with classier secondary switchgear and Audi-level fit and finish,” they report. However, “the Lambo still suffers from horrendous rearward vision, windshield glare, and a paucity of interior storage space, although there is a nice shelf behind the seats that can fit a purse or gym bag. But it now even comes with a cup holder.”

“The seats are set extremely low,” Motor Authority reports, “but leg and shoulder room are generous for both driver and passenger.” Operating the controls is mostly easy, since the cockpit’s so narrow—but changing gears with the paddle shifters can be an issue. “Up and down gearchanges with any appreciable steering input are hampered by the shift paddles,” Edmunds says. The problem? They’re “fixed to the steering column and too short to reach."

Interior quality is high—distractingly so, to some. “Hugging the outside wall of the banking at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at about 130 miles per hour, we had a thought: 'This dash-top stitching looks perfect,'" Car and Driver recalls.

The Gallardo’s also “loud. Deliciously loud. As loud as legally possible,” Car and Driver concludes. “And thus, perfect.”

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2009 Lamborghini Gallardo

Safety

No crash-test data exists for the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. Parking assistance—electronic and human—is required, thanks to the Lambo’s nearly nonexistent rearward visibility.

There’s little critical information about the safety performance of the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. Who wants to crash-test a $201,000 supercar?

It’s no surprise that, due to its low sales volumes and supercar status, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the Gallardo LP560-4.

However, the Gallardo does sport a host of standard safety features, including side and curtain airbags; four-wheel drive; traction and stability control; and a rearview camera.

Visibility is a major issue with this Lamborghini. The flying pillars that support the roof and low, low seating position make the rearview camera a necessity—and still, during the Gallardo test drive in Las Vegas, TheCarConnection.com’s editors had to open the doors to back the car into a parking space. It’s “a bit of a trick,” Edmunds confirms. “You must pull back both paddles together to engage Neutral and remember to set the parking brake so the Gallardo doesn't roll over the valet.”

The Gallardo also has a switch on its dash that raises the front end—to cross speed bumps and to protect it otherwise from street damage.

9

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo

Features

The 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 covers all the usual feature bases—and throws in the intangibles for free.

The 2009 Lamborghini has plenty of standard features and a handful of options not included in its $201,000 base price.

Maybe its most satisfying feature, though, is the baked-in ability to cause a commotion just by driving past a crowd. Car and Driver tested out the Thrust Control Mode in the Gallardo and harnessed this unique power. “After slowly rolling into an intersection in Vegas, we just hammer it; we break all four wheels loose for a second in a straight line—and then simply catapult forward, squealing and grinning like schoolboys who have just stolen the keys to Dad’s, well, Lamborghini,” they report. “This doesn’t seem to hurt the car. But we know we are going straight to hell anyway.”

In more practical terms, the Gallardo sports standard power features, an upmarket sound system, a choice of manual or e-gear transmissions, all the mechanical hardware described here, and an exotically upholstered interior.
“The overriding theme inside the revised Gallardo is one of leather — lots of it,” Edmunds observes. “In addition to power-adjustable leather-upholstered seats, our LP560-4 had leather covering the dash and the center console — even the headliner was smothered in the stuff. Sumptuous? Yes, but such an interior is a bit monochromatic.”

In the Gallardo's Italian architecture, TheCarConnection.com’s editors find lots of Germanic touches. The Gallardo’s related to the Audi R8 distantly; the navigation system, climate control interface, and certain switches look like pieces from the Audi R8, because they easily might be. The same goes for the flat-bottom steering wheel and the main instrument binnacles. There are far worse parts bins to raid.

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