Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera and Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Greg Pajo
2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera and 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

A bit of chip tuning was all it took to squeeze an additional 10 hp out of the Gallardo’s engine, which now delivers 562 hp at 8000 rpm and an unchanged 398 lb-ft at 6500 rpm. By reprogramming the thrust mode of the E-gear transmission for 5000 takeoff revs and an absolute minimum of wheel spin, Lamborghini claims that it has shaved 0.3 second off the 0-to-62-mph acceleration time, which is listed at 3.4 seconds. The top speed remains the same at 202 mph. Although Lamborghini still offers the classic manual transmission complete with chrome gate, polished golf-ball shift knob, and wonderfully positive action, the take rate has dropped to less than two percent. How come? Because there are no tangible performance or efficiency benefits (the stick-shift car is actually seven percent thirstier), and because the E-gear’s paddleshift operation makes it a lot easier to expertly cut that torque pie into six even slices. Unlike the out-of-breath gearing preferred by Porsche, Lamborghini opted for the more relaxed pulse rate provided by longer gears.

The Superleggera is, in fact, quite civilized and can be ordered with navigation, a high-end stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, a front-end lift system, and a rearview camera. The Lambo will happily entertain the street café crowd at 25 mph in first gear all the way down the main drag. It doesn’t balk at extensive stop-and-go frustrations, and it will, at the push of a button, perform one head-turning race start after the other. As soon as the road is clear, it begs for the Corsa program, which raises the stability control threshold and quickens the shifts. This is arms-forward, head-down, hips-back stuff: every full-throttle upshift sends a brief judder through the aluminum monocoque and makes the nineteen-inch Pirellis leave their initials on the tarmac in first, second, and occasionally even in third gear.

The GT3 RS is a comparatively ancient design that is still sensationally young at heart. The white, winged warrior with the blinding red lettering makes for a fascinating blend of archaic and intoxicating. Archaic because of the indecently heavy clutch, the bony six-speed transmission, and the hard-to-modulate, on-or-off optional ceramic brakes. Intoxicating thanks to the wailing six-cylinder chain saw, the seismographically intuitive steering, and the masterfully balanced chassis, which can still dance as professionally along the limit of adhesion as the very first Carrera RS 2.7. True, the seven-speed PDK gearbox available on other 911s would be quicker, more convenient, more efficient, and much higher tech, but the old-fashioned manual box is a more spontaneous and immediate tool, and the considerable effort it demands matches the substantial travail of all the other controls. And we’re not just talking steering, brakes, tires, and engine here, but also eyes and ears and brain and bravery. Especially brain and bravery.

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