2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 and 2009 Ferrari F430 Spider - Express Delivery
I know what you're thinking: "Oh no, he didn't." Well, oh yes, I did. But not so you could giggle at the absurdity of a quarter-million-dollar Lamborghini with a lighted pizza delivery sign on its roof. Fact is, you've probably read pages of prose explaining how fast modern exotics are, but it's difficult to describe their performance in mere words. Every supercar passenger thinks he knows what to expect, but when pedal hits metal, it's always the same: first they're paralyzed with fear, and then they let loose with cursing and screaming. If our words can't prepare you for what it feels like to be slung to 60 mph in four seconds, we won't bother trying. Instead, we'll prove that you could actually drive one of these supercars every day, and you can do it with no oil slicks, no tow trucks on retainer, and no explosions of the cooling-system, the kinds of problems we traditionally associate with exotic-car ownership.
To that end, I got a job at Domino's Pizza. If the kings of the supercars - the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 and the Ferrari F430 - can be used to deliver pizzas, they can surely survive your daily commute. Obviously, this little pizza stunt required a bit of advance planning - I wouldn't expect anyone to let me deliver pizzas in a $250,000 car registered to someone else. So after successfully interviewing, I present my beat-up old BMW for Domino's cursory safety inspection. The BMW passes, and I'm asked to return the next evening for my first shift. Which I do. In the Lamborghini.
I park just out of sight of the storefront so no one sees me duct-taping the lighted sign to the Lambo's roof. Magnets don't stick to supercars made of aluminum, you know. When I get my first delivery order, I sneak to the dark side of the parking lot and hop in. The Gallardo's infotainment system is lifted straight from the Audi A3, so entering the address into the navigation system is quick and easy. The all-wheel-drive system binds when turning tight corners, but the bright and clear reverse camera helps me back out of the parking spot quickly. I pull the right-hand shift paddle to engage first gear, squeeze the throttle, and set off. The pizza rests safely inside the insulated warming bag on the passenger seat, which is itself being kept warm by a seat heater so powerful it feels as though it could have melted the cheese in the first place.
Despite its performance capabilities, the LP560-4 is no more difficult to drive than a normal car - with one exception: the brake pedal is so grabby that anything but the slightest touch will launch the pizza, pepperoni-first, into the leather-covered dashboard. The transmission never threatens to toss the pie, though - the latest version of Lamborghini's E-gear is, in my opinion, the best single-clutch automated gearbox on the road. Part-throttle shifts are smoother than some conventional automatics', and full-bore upshifts are stupid fast. Taking off slowly up a hill - one of the biggest challenges for this type of transmission - is smooth, natural, and accompanied by no backward rolling and no clutch smoke.
The 5.2-liter V-10 has huge low-end torque, so you don't need lots of revs in normal driving, and the exhaust is reasonably quiet, as long as you don't dip into the throttle too deeply. Which I don't, mostly to ensure that the Domino's sign doesn't go flying into a ditch - a paint-scraping, plastic-smashing catastrophe that would surely get me fired from both of my jobs. The nav guides me perfectly to my destination, a narrow and steep driveway crowded by overgrown brush on both sides and covered with accidental speed bumps created by roots lifting the asphalt. I press a small button on the center console that raises the front end to clear curbs and proceed slowly up the hill without incident. If the Lambo can make it up this driveway, it can make it up almost any.
At the top, I position the white Gallardo so that the deliveree can't possibly miss it. The rear-three-quarter view of the LP560-4's stunning LED flux-capacitor taillights and the illuminated Domino's sign could rouse a legally blind coma victim, I think as I ring the bell. The door opens almost instantly, and I'm greeted by a woman in her eighties who is grinning from ear to ear. Not because of the Lamborghini - because her dinner has arrived. She experiences full-blown, pizza-induced tunnel vision as she hands me $30 in cash (which includes a generous $6.75 tip), yanks the cardboard box out of my hand, thanks me, and shuts the door in my face.
When I return to the Domino's parking lot, I'm greeted by several other delivery guys. Apparently, my cover was blown by a semihysterical caller who said he saw a white Lamborghini with a Domino's sign on it pulling out of the parking lot. He wanted to know if he could get his dinner delivered by Gallardo as well. Whoops. While everyone ogles the machinery, another driver returns with a solemn look on his face. He accidentally backed into an urn while turning around in a customer's driveway. I inform him that he shouldn't have cheaped out in the first place. He could have saved the $100 it cost him to replace the landscaping accessory if he had simply bought a Gallardo with a backup camera. I'm not making any friends.
But I am making $8 an hour plus tips. In stark contrast to what I expected - and to the scene I caused in the Domino's lot - none of the customers notice the Lambo, no matter how close I park to their front doors. This scientific research has brought me to the conclusion that the hungry human being cannot see a supercar once he has smelled warm pizza. From now on, I will carry a warm pizza with which to distract the police officer should I ever get pulled over for speeding in a Ferrari.
And speaking of Ferrari, it's time to try the F430. This particular yellow Ferrari is a Spider, which I drive with the top down to help more effectively spread the aroma of pizza in my wake. Ferrari's V-8 produces almost 70 hp less than the Lamborghini's V-10, but what it lacks in thrust, it makes up for in sound and feel. The Lambo's wail - a slightly distant and wildly ferocious exhaust growl - is no match for the Ferrari's orchestral serenade. The V-8's yowl is so loud it sounds as if it's happening inside your head, and every exhaust valve sounds like it's exhaling through its own vacuum-tube-amplified trumpet.
In normal driving and in pizza delivering, though, the Ferrari can't touch the Lamborghini's everyday livability. Critics have lamented parent company Audi's influence in the Gallardo's interior, but that input has bestowed the LP560-4 with well-integrated, easy-to-use electronics systems. Both cars have automatic climate control, but the Gallardo's offers two zones and is quieter and more accurate. The F430's available front and rear parking sensors aren't as helpful as the Lambo's backup camera. Heated seats aren't offered on the F430, and the navigation system is an afterthought, simply part of the Becker stereo system. While any nav system is better than using crust crumbs to find your way home, the Ferrari's small, no-map screen is no match for the Gallardo's big color display. Crucially, the Ferrari doesn't offer the Lamborghini's front-end lifting system. Given the F430's long and low front overhang, I don't even attempt some driveways that the Lamborghini can handle without danger of scraping.
The F430's biggest problem in daily use, however, is its gearbox. The F430's F1 automated manual set the bar years ago, but the Lambo's newly updated E-gear transmission is much better programmed, particularly for low-speed maneuvers. Starting slowly up a hill in the Ferrari often results in the scent of burnt clutch, and the F430 even stalls a few times.
With that said, when the F430 is driven in anger, the F1 transmission is quicker to respond to inputs than E-gear. Shifts seem to happen as you're pulling the lever in the Ferrari, whereas the Lamborghini's transmission needs a split second to think about how to most smoothly execute the shift.
The Ferrari is also the road-trip car of this pair. Its huge trunk (relatively speaking) fits a large pizza lying flat and would surely carry enough luggage for long weekends. The same cannot be said for the Lambo, which can barely swallow a couple of calzones. The F430, even in convertible form, is quieter on the highway than the Gallardo, with less road noise. It rides more smoothly, too, although its softer suspension is upset more easily by big impacts. The Ferrari's more conservatively styled exterior (I can't believe I just wrote that) attracts far less attention than the outrageous Lamborghini - for every one person honking, waving, or taking cell-phone pictures of the Ferrari, ten people experience complete emotional breakdowns at the sight of the Lambo.
The Gallardo LP560-4 is a peach in everyday driving and the easy choice for around-town pizza delivery duty, thanks to its superbly sorted driveline and well-integrated electronics. At the same time, its obscene power, razor-sharp reflexes, and knee-buckling good looks make it one of the most special cars in the world. It's quicker and faster than the Ferrari, too, and it even gets better gas mileage. In fact, averaging more than 12 mpg delivering pizzas in a hurry, I made more than enough tip money to cover the Lamborghini's fuel bill.
The Thin Crust VersionWhen you boil it down, here's how the two Italian supercars compare in everyday driving.
The Gallardo LP560-4 accelerates noticeably more quickly than the F430, and its transmission is far better programmed for the real world. The Lamborghini also has better steering feel, but the Ferrari's steering loads up better in corners. Both cars have grabby brakes, but the Lambo's are much harder to get used to. The Gallardo has four-wheel drive, but it never seems to send more than two ponies' worth of power forward. On the street, both cars put their power down quite well, with a slight advantage to the LP560-4. The Ferrari's turning circle is smaller, and the Lambo's driveline is frustrated by tight turns. The LP560-4 is louder and more menacing, but the F430's song is sweeter. The Gallardo's stereo sounds better, though.
Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4
Price (base/as tested): $202,100/$254,765
PowertrainEngine: DOHC 40-valve V-10Displacement: 5.2 liters (318 cu in)Horsepower: 552 hp @ 8000 rpmTorque: 398 lb-ft @ 6500 rpmTransmission: 6-speed automated manualDrive: 4-wheel
ChassisSteering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinionSuspension, front: Control arms, coil springsSuspension, rear: Control arms, coil springsBrakes: Vented carbon-ceramic discs, ABSTires: Pirelli PZero CorsaTire size (f, r): 235/35YR-19, 295/30YR-19
MeasurementsL x W x H: 171.1 x 74.8 x 45.9 inWheelbase: 100.8 inTrack f/r: 64.3/62.9 inWeight: 3520 lb (est. )0-62 mph: 3.7 sec (per manufacturer)Top speed: 202 mph (per manufacturer)EPA fuel mileage: 14/20 mpg
Ferrari F430 Spider
Price (base/as tested): $233,797/$242,237
PowertrainEngine: DOHC 32-valve V-8Displacement: 4.3 liters (263 cu in)Horsepower: 483 hp @ 8500 rpmTorque: 343 lb-ft @ 5250 rpmTransmission: 6-speed automated manualDrive: Rear-wheel
ChassisSteering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinionSuspension, front: Control arms, coil springsSuspension, rear: Control arms, coil springsBrakes: Vented carbon-ceramic discs, ABSTires: Pirelli PZero RossoTire size (f, r): 225/35YR-19, 285/35YR-19
MeasurementsL x W x H: 177.6 x 75.7 x 48.6 inWheelbase: 102.4 inTrack f/r: 65.7/63.6 inWeight: 3351 lb (per manufacturer)0-62 mph: 4.1 sec (per manufacturer)Top speed: 193 mph (per manufacturer)EPA fuel mileage: 11/16 mpg
Pros and Cons:
Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4+ Backup camera+ Liftable front suspension+ Radar-range heated seats- Teensy trunk- Driveline binds at full lock- Difficult-to-modulate, grabby brakes
Ferrari F430 Spider+ Huge trunk + Supple ride quality+ Engine note from the gods- Transmission doesn't like slow moving- Climate control, navigation, and infotainment not nearly as well integrated as LP560-4's-No backup camera or liftable suspension