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Monday, May 12, 2008

LP560- is one bad ~BULL~

Lambo's updated baby bull charges from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, hits quarter-mile in 11.4

By Edward Loh
Photography by Brian Vance

To outside observers, the whole process looks complicated and, well, a bit silly.

Clicking the right most e.gear button on the center console of the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 engages Corsa mode. A push of a silver switch on the center stack disables the stability control and lights up two amber Gallardos on the instrument panel, the smaller of the two indicating that ESP is completely off. Left-footing the brake pedal and matting the throttle revs the LP560-4's engine to over 5000 rpm and creates a cacophony of popping and banging.

Releasing the brake pedal sends up a poof of smoke as the rear tires chirp and slip through not quite one full rotation. The car then bogs, as though hunkering down, before exploding forward a millisecond later.

"It always looks like a failed launch," shrugs photographer Vance. But to the nine satellites reading our position overhead, the Gallardo LP560-4's all-new Thrust mode is a raging success -- launching Lambo's latest supercar to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The quarter mile comes just a few beats later -- 11.4 seconds at 126.9 mph. Both numbers are pretty far off the pace of Lamborghini's estimates of 3.7 and 11.8 seconds. Who knew Italians could be so conservative?

Inside the low-roofed cabin, the LP560-4's attempt to violate Newton's second law is a comprehensive assault on the senses. Getting kicked in the ass a split second before being shot from a cannon is probably the closest approximation. The only thing missing is the taste of cordite upon the lips.

Thrust mode is impressive not just at mere sports car speeds; unlike the previous Gallardo launch control system that required manually shifting the gears, a Thrust-moded Gallardo LP560-4 will autorocket through all six gears on the way to a terminal velocity of 202 mph.

Just what you'd expect from a $201,000 supercar, right? Wait, there's more...

Behind the cosmetically reshaped nose, between the all new Y-styled, LED head and taillights, is a vehicle truly worthy of such an affected alphanumeric name. LP stands for Longitudinale Posteriore and refers to the engine position -- that's longways and mid-mounted in plain English. The first set of digits - 560 -- is the horsepower count, though it's measured in Italian cavallinos (CV), which are a slightly smaller breed than our American horses. We'd call this Gallardo the LP552-4 -- that last digit accounting for the car's four-wheel drive system.

While LP560-4 may succinctly describe this latest and fastest Gallardo, it is the engine that defines it. Mounted behind the driver's compartment is an all-new, 5.2-liter direction injection V-10, the first of its kind in a mass production vehicle. Two rows of five cylinders set at a 90-degree angle mean this is a wide engine in a wide car. The high zoot factor comes from that high rpm horsepower rating. Lamborghini and Bosch engineers teamed up to develop the technology that ensures that the updated V-10 spins no faster than its 8500 rpm redline. The result: 552 horsepower at 8000 rpm, 398 pound-feet of torque at 6500 and exclusive membership into the sub-3.5 second club.

All 560 cavallinos are routed to the Viscous Traction (VT) four-wheel drive system through the thoroughly updated e.gear transmission. You can still shift it yourself, as Lamborghini will continue to offer a traditional six-speed manual, but with 90 percent of customers ordering e.gear, it is understandable why they spent the time and money revising the system.

In Corsa (track) mode, Lamborghini claims e.gear shift times have been reduced by 40 percent. We couldn't verify that claim, but during our test session and around a road course set up at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it certainly felt as though shifts were quicker -- and far more violent. For high-performance driving on the street or simply loafing about, e.gear also offers Sport and traditional slower shifting Automatic modes. But the hottest ticket is the aforementioned Thrust mode - Lambo's all-new and appropriately named launch control system.

Not only is the LP560-4 much faster and more powerful, it's also greener. By virtue of a strict diet, heavy ECU tuning, and the miracles of direct injection and advanced lubricants, Lamborghini claims the Gallardo's fuel consumption and CO2 emissions have been reduced by some 18 percent. By the company's own calculations, the Gallardo returns a respectable (for a supercar, anyway) 11 mpg in the city, and a jaw-dropping 23 mpg on the highway.

So to reiterate, the $201,000, 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 will go from 0-60 in under 3.5 seconds, hit a top speed of 202 mph hour, and get over 20 miles per gallon on the highway.

Guess that's why they call it a supercar.