First Drive: Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Bicolore & LP570-4 Spyder Performante

Ezra dyer got to go to Rome to drive Lamborghini's latest flagship, the Aventador, which replaces the Murcielago. A week before he flew to Italy, I am at the Monticello Motor Club 100 miles northwest of Manhattan to drive the two latest versions of the Aventador's smaller sibling, the Gallardo. Rome is nice, but the swanky, members-only, Monticello track is no slum, and I don't have to worry about jet lag, just clipping apexes correctly. Also, the Gallardo might not be the latest and greatest Lamborghini, but the LP550-2 Bicolore and the LP570-4 Spyder Performante are the latest and greatest Gallardos. The Gallardo, for its part, is the best-selling Lamborghini of all time. More than 10,000 of them have been sold worldwide since the car debuted at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, its sales buttressed by a carefully orchestrated rollout of new models designed to tempt rich guys who cannot resist the latest Italian baubles. There is a group of such rich guys, specially invited by Lamborghini, waiting in the Monticello canteen for the peasant scribes to finish our morning drive so they can take the wheels of the LP550-2 Bicolore and LP570-4 Spyder Performante test cars, assuming we don't destroy them first. One of these guys tells me he already owns a Gallardo coupe; another tells me he owns a Ferrari F430 Spider. If they are surprised that they have to wait for the likes of us to finish driving before they are allowed out on the track, they are polite enough not to show it.

The LP550-2 Bicolore coupe, the first rear-wheel-drive Gallardo since the limited-edition Balboni, is solely for America: other markets get the all-wheel-drive LP560-4 Bicolore. Only 250 Balboni models were built, and they cost $224,895. By comparison, the Bicolore's base price is $196,995. Unlike the Balboni, though, it's offered only with the E-gear sequential manual transmission, rather than with a choice between E-gear and a conventional six-speed manual. If you want to shift for yourself, the $27,900 you've saved by not succumbing to the Balboni back in 2009 could buy you a stick-shift Volkswagen GTI, with money left over.

During the presentation, Lamborghini officials try to explain the differences between a Balboni and a Bicolore and between a Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder and a Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante, but even they seem confused by the proliferation of models they have wrought. I add to the confusion by asking, "So, you're saying that the Performante is a Spyder that's been Superleggera-ized? Or are you saying that the Performante is a Superleggera that's been Spyder-ized?"

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