The E-gear single-clutch automated manual transmission has come a long way since the Gallardo debuted in 2003, when it lurched and hesitated. Now, it has eclipsed Ferrari's similar F1 unit in around-town driving. E-gear also comes with a launch-control mode that almost merits the gearbox's $10,000 price. Find a straight piece of road - preferably not in your own neighborhood - select Corsa mode, turn off the stability control, depress the brake pedal with your left foot, and hit the gas. Revs automatically rise to 5200 rpm and stay there; you lift your left foot, and the Gallardo erupts forward, all four Pirellis scorching the tarmac in a squealing, smoking override (abuse, really) of the all-wheel-drive system. Leave it in Corsa mode, and the shifts are brutally, violently quick. Now that E-gear is so good, Lamborghini president and CEO Stephan Winkelmann is almost disdainful of the standard-equipment manual transmission and predicts that the take rate, currently one to two percent, will soon fall to zero. Why, then, isn't E-gear standard?
As a whole, the Gallardo Spyder feels like a more complete and well-engineered effort than the car we first drove in Miami three years ago. The steering is nicely weighted, although perhaps not quite as urgently communicative as one would like; the car is easy to place in a corner; and all-wheel drive provides tremendous grip. An excellent backup camera (optional), clear ergonomics, and good visibility make the Gallardo relatively easy to live with day-to-day.
There's reason to believe that a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, which starts at $225K and can easily be larded with another $50K in options, is exactly the wrong car for our times, and Winkelmann acknowledges that Lamborghini sales have slowed considerably. But the reception the Gallardo received at Mount Teide might help you justify the purchase of one. How can something that brings so much pleasure to others be considered a selfish indulgence?