When the Grande Giro rolls through Italian villages like Orvieto and towns like Pianoro, even the old women, heads covered with steely curls, thrust out their fists, low and powerful, which is the peoples’ way of demanding that Lamborghini drivers rev their engines. With no introverts among us, we are happy to oblige, and today the valleys and mountainside villages of Tuscany resounded with war cries, as from the back of the throat, of our 10- and 12-cylinder engines: “Aaarrruuunnnggg! Aaarrruuunnnggg!”
The Italians went wild. We felt like heroes. In fact, we felt like buying Lamborghinis, which is the point of this whole exercise. The brilliant—perhaps diabolically so—management of this company has gotten into the collective psyche by contriving a 50th-birthday procession through the heart of Italy. The citizens eat it up. The boutique luxury brand Lamborghini is as vital to the nation as Prada, as the novelist Italo Calvino, as the crazy punishing shoes that designers invent for women and podiatrists. The customers are getting test drives and a wonderful experience. We journalists are helping to broaden the Lamborghini myth. Even Lamborghini’s management is on a huge high. After all, during this extravaganza, people are saying, “Ferrari who?”
My trip summary for the day’s 440 kilometers: Leave Rome on autostrada; run in packs up to 140 mph despite middle-of-the-night misgivings about this sort of driving; get mired down in local backroad traffic and take in the verdant patchwork of fields on mountainsides, the sight of Romanesque and Renaissance villages and towns, the smell of perfumed locust trees and pungent basil at the roadside; dodge the occasional pelting raindrops and try not to slide off the slick pavement (no problem in our all-wheel-drive Gallardo). Finally, after another incredible lunch, this one at a winery, we arrived on the boulevards of Bologna, parking our cars in the Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Galvani, with 700-year-old buildings to surround us.
After about 1000 kilometers (please excuse the mixing of metric and English) I have this to say about the Gallardo: ready for an all-new, fully contemporary instrument panel and console; for heated seats; for two-speed wipers with more intermittent variability; for fully one-touch operation of both windows; for better connectivity and infotainment. Of course, all that’s coming. Does it need a better engine? No. Better chassis and suspension? No. Better seats or superior fit and finish? No. It just needs some updates.
Otherwise, it’s perfect in driver involvement. It can sometimes feel light in the front end. (Take a look at one accompanying picture that shows the rough roads, just as if we were back in Michigan.) But the steering is always there, like the American songbook. The steering wheel itself is perfection itself. And the powertrain? Even with the quirky six-speed automated manual, what could really beat it without spending double the money for one of those outrageous Aventadors that keep blowing by us just about whenever they want to?
Saturday the Grande Giro concludes with a judged car show in the grand plaza and then an afternoon convoy to Sant’Agata, where all these beasts were made. And where certainly you can sign up for a new one with all your preferred options.
The Italian nation awaits these decisions.