Light and sound show

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - LUXURY CARS - Shaun Cleary

IN ITAL­IAN, su­per­leg­gera means su­per light­weight. In the case of the Lam­borgh­ini Gal­lardo, it means a lot more.

The lat­est LP570-4 coupe is lighter than be­fore and it has an ex­tra 7kW in the en­gine room, but the Su­per­leg­gera is re­ally about sharp­en­ing one of the sharpest su­per­cars in the world to­day.

Lam­borgh­ini is also us­ing the Gal­lardo Su­per­leg­gera as a demon­stra­tion of its com­mit­ment to strip­ping ex­cess bulk out of its cars.

‘‘Lam­borgh­ini used to be known for hav­ing very light­weight ve­hi­cles with pow­er­ful propul­sion sys­tems,’’ says Lam­borgh­ini’s de­sign boss Man­fred Fitzger­ald.

‘‘I think we lost that over the course of the years and we have to get back to that.’’

But the Su­per­leg­gera still comes with a hefty price tag, as an 18 per cent price rise in Europe points to a bot­tom line in the $560,000 re­gion in Aus­tralia.

Al­though Lam­borgh­ini won’t ad­mit it, the tim­ing of the Gal­lardo Su­per­leg­gera’s launch is ideal for it to com­pete with the re­cent release of Fer­rari’s all-new 458 Italia.

The Su­per­leg­gera is 40kg lighter than the Fer­rari, de­spite the Gal­lardo’s age, so it seems Lam­borgh­ini’s work re­ally is wor­thy of credit.

Be­sides, as a race­track weapon, the new Su­per­leg­gera is the best Gal­lardo yet.

Lam­borgh­ini is so ded­i­cated to weight-loss work that it en­tered a part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton, a global pi­o­neer in the re­search and de­vel­op­ment of car­bon­fi­bre tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing work with Boe­ing on its new 787 Dream­liner.

Fitzger­ald in­sists the part­ner­ship will al­low Lam­borgh­ini to rev­o­lu­tionise the use of car­bon fi­bre in its cars.

‘‘We’ve learned over the past cou­ple of years how to bet­ter un­der­stand the ma­te­rial of car­bon fi­bre, which will be play­ing a key role in light­weight constructi­on and man­u­fac­tur­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘Up un­til to­day, it was al­ways the same method of hav­ing aes­thetic parts done in car­bon fi­bre, but it will be­come more and more cru­cial to have this ma­te­rial also go­ing into struc­tural parts.

‘‘For us it is a key fac­tor of giv­ing the cus­tomers, the driv­ers, added value.

‘‘That comes from giv­ing them en­hanced driv­ing dy­nam­ics and this you can only do by re­duc­ing the weight of the ve­hi­cle.’’

Of the 70kg stripped out of the LP570-4 Su­per­leg­gera, 40kg is thanks to the ex­ten­sive use of car­bon fi­bre in­side the cock­pit, in the en­gine cover, door sills, ex­te­rior mir­rors re­designed dif­fuser.

The F1-style rear dif­fuser, in com­bi­na­tion with a cov­ered un­der­body, also helps the Su­per­leg­gera gen­er­ate around 50 per cent more down­force for high-speed cor­ner­ing.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is fear­some, re­peat­edly reach­ing 100km/h in just 3.4 sec­onds, thanks to a spe­cial launch con­trol pro­gram, and bound­ing to 200km/h in only 10.2 sec­onds, be­fore hit­ting its top speed of 325km/h.

It’s the kind of per­for­mance that will earn you more po­lice at­ten­tion than Lewis Hamil­ton’s Benz burnout.

At the heart of the Su­per­leg­gera is an all-al­loy, di­rect­in­jected 5.2-litre V10 en­gine that de­vel­ops 419kW at a strato­spheric 8000rpm and pro­duces a hefty torque fig­ure of 540Nm at 6500.

As those stats sug­gest, the en­gine’s best work is done at

and

the high revs, lack­ing the bot­tomto-mid-range grunt that many mod­ern forced-in­duc­tion en­gines de­liver. But that only val­i­dates your urge to mash the throt­tle, just to hear the beast rage as it ap­proaches the up­per reaches of its rev range.

The Lam­borgh­ini’s sen­sa­tional sound – a deep, rich un­der­tone over­laid by a high­pitched an­i­mal­is­tic wail – is a con­se­quence of the en­gine’s dual-plane crank­shaft, where op­pos­ing pis­tons share a com­mon bear­ing.

The sus­pen­sion has been stiff­ened sig­nif­i­cantly on the Su­per­leg­gera, with a 20 per cent in­crease in dam­per firm­ness and new sus­pen­sion bushes that are 90 per cent stiffer.

DRIV­ING

The harsh dif­fer­ence in the Su­per­leg­gera’s sus­pen­sion is im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, even be- fore reach­ing the end of pit­lane at the Span­ish Mon­te­blanco cir­cuit, where the car was launched to the world’s me­dia.

It doesn’t of­fer the grand tour­ing abil­ity of the LP560-4 Coupe, but that’s be­cause the Su­per­leg­gera was crafted for race­track prow­ess . . . and it de­liv­ers.

The lighter, stiffer Su­per­leg­gera is a much more fo­cused track car than the LP560-4.

Even though the sus­pen­sion is rock-hard, it’s well-damped for the race­track and – with the ad­di­tional down­force – cre­ates a sense of sta­bil­ity through su­per-fast sec­tions of the track, where you’re quickly grab­bing each gear through the six-speed se­quen­tial man­ual’s colum­n­mounted pad­dle shifters.

The stiffer bush­ings also en­sure there’s no slack in the sus­pen­sion and, ac­cord­ingly, the Su­per­leg­gera re­sponds swiftly to steer­ing in­puts.

Turn-in is sharper, with hardly any dis­cernible body roll.

But for all its con­fi­dent race­track abil­ity, there’s still plenty of mon­grel left in this car.

Lift off the throt­tle mid­corner or fail to get the car’s weight set­tled squarely be­fore you pun­ish the pow­er­ful ce­ramic brakes and the weight of the mid-mounted en­gine will cause the rear of the car to dance around, re­quir­ing sub­tle steer­ing cor­rec­tions.

The ESP Sport pro­gram is well-cal­i­brated and al­lows the all-wheel drive sys­tem’s 30/70 front-to-rear torque split to slide the tail when you’re pow­er­ing out of tight cor­ners.

But its em­pha­sis on re­duc­ing weight to en­hance the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence has a sec­ond ben­e­fit: im­proved fuel ef­fi­ciency, which is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant, even for su­per­cars.

The Su­per­leg­gera re­turns a com­bined EU fuel econ­omy fig­ure of just 13.5L/100km, which is com­mend­able for a car with its per­for­mance po­ten­tial and proves that in­no­va­tion like Lam­borgh­ini’s will en­sure that the su­per­car has a fu­ture.

Just don’t count on them get­ting any cheaper.

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