2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera

Mark Bramley

The transition from first to second gear feels like a sudden in-cab explosion. Second to third is almost as quick and mechanical. From third to fourth, the driveline at last seems to come to terms with the high revs, the big oomph, and the serious power. At all engine speeds, the throttle response mixes telepathy with anticipation. Above 5000 rpm in particular, it feels as if your right foot is minutely and directly modulating the intake flow. A conventional six-speed manual transmission also is offered.

The sportier dampers are a welcome modification on the track, where poise, roadholding, and control are instrumental for shaving off tenths of a second. On fresh tires, the Superleggera must be pure bliss, but driving on our test car's taxed nineteen-inch Pirellis, the Lambo was flat and amazingly stable. Despite the tail-friendly 30/70 percent torque split, you experience the full handling spectrum, from determined understeer to radical oversteer, and, even with the stability control engaged, the Lambo permits dramatic drift angles. All-wheel drive notwithstanding, the steering offers good feel. It's on the heavy side, even by supercar standards, but it is very accurate.

The only gripe one might have with the Superleggera's livery is the full-length decal that looks a bit aftermarket. The mirror housings and the $5850 rear wing are made of carbon fiber. Inside, black Alcantara stretches from wall to wall, and the fit and finish are world-class. The same applies to the carbon-fiber bucket seats, which are shaped to perfection but aren't available in the States, because U.S. cars get seats with side air bags. To further save weight, Lamborghini applied carbon fiber to the door panels and the center console and made the radio and navigation system optional. Also, the rear window and the rear side windows are now made of polycarbonate, not glass.

The V-10-powered Lamborghini has matured tremendously since it was first released in 2003, but it's worth remembering that our impressions were restricted to the track. The Superleggera starts to shine only at a pace where most drivers have long since backed off, and the $33,500 price premium doesn't include the carbon-ceramic brakes, which cost an additional $15,000. I gave back la bella macchina reluctantly, grinning from ear to ear, but if it were my own money, I'd opt for the Gallardo Spyder. Call me a wimp, but I'm afraid that's what getting older does to you.

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