2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 First Drive Review

Mike Stevens | 0 Comments

We first brought you news of the new Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 back in February last year but now, finally, TMR gets some seat-time in the car to see what the fuss is all about.

Lamborghini's faster and more powerful updated Gallardo, the LP560-4, was announced at the Geneva Show 2008 as an answer to Ferrari's F430. The F430 was stealing sales in this market segment and Lamborghini knew it.

But what's with the designation LP560-4? Well, LP for 'Longitudinale Posteriore' meaning the engine is mounted length-ways in the car, gearbox pointing backwards, and 560 is its power output in PS.

The 4 at the end shows the Gallardo still uses the Lamborghini-designed torque split four-wheel drive system (a totally different design to parent company Audi's Quattro system).

Maybe this is used to differentiate it from rear-wheel drive rivals, the F430 and Porsche GT2, or maybe a hint towards a 2WD Gallardo in the future...?

The LP560-4 at first glance doesn’t appear to be a major update from the earlier model, but, peering deeper, it comes with a host of enhancements: one of its most talked about, the newly designed DFI (Direct Fuel Injection) 5.2 litre V10.

Technical enhancements

At the Geneva Motor Show launch, Lamborghini technical director Maurizio Reggiani explained that it doesn't just have a larger 5.2 litre capacity with direct-injection, but the entire engine was re-built from the previous Gallardo's 5.0 litre.

“The old engine was at the limit of its power and capacity, so we've used stratified direct injection to increase power, because it allows a higher compression ratio – up from 11.5 to 12.5 to one – and it improves efficiency, with CO2 reduced by 10 per cent. We also needed to increase the cylinder bore, which meant a new block with wider bore centres,” he said.

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With a capacity lift from 4961cc to 5204cc, power rises by 22kw to 412kw at 8000rpm. Torque has also swelled with the increase from 376lb ft to 398 lb ft at 6500rpm, and a noticeably flatter torque curve.

Thanks to Direct Fuel Injection (DFI), the compression ratio is 12.5:1 - a benefit from the lower intake temperatures resulting from the delivery of fuel directly into the cylinders. This compression ratio allows the new engine to return a CO2 output down from 400g/km to 327g/km.

The engine changes include a new exhaust system which introduces a slightly deeper and more menacing growl to the exhaust note than before.

The next new party piece to the LP560-4's bag is its revised e-gear system - Lamborghini's six-speed electro-hydraulically controlled 'semi-automatic single-clutch sequential manual'. Aren’t you glad they stuck with the name ‘e-gear’.

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The revisions to the e-gear system brings shift-times down to 120 milliseconds from torque cut to torque reinstatement (that is the whole shift from gear to gear, not just the gear engagement), down from 200ms before. As a side benefit, the new e-gear system also shaves off 13 kilograms in weight.

Lamborghini says 90 percent of customers' cars are now ordered with the e-gear system, which features Normal, Sport and Corsa modes. The latter, Corsa mode, reduces gear change times by 40 percent and brings with it launch control (more on that later).

Sport mode is one level down from Corsa and increases the amount of nannying from the electronics should you get into trouble, but still allows some fun at the wheel.

Normal mode, which is an 'auto' setting, is designed for everyday driving, although being a semi-auto single clutch system it can’t bring you the smoothness of a typical full-auto box and torque converter. I couldn’t quite click with the box in full-auto mode. The computer controlled shifts felt unpredictable to me, but maybe you would get used to it on a daily basis.

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There’s a revised suspension that comes with this update, with an extra toe-control link at the rear. The brakes are now lighter and feature better ventilation. Indeed the whole car is lighter overall by 20 kilograms despite the new engine weighing 10kg more.


Design revisions: When you're on a good thing...

For the interior revision, the engineers have not had a lot to do. This is not a bad thing as the cabin is both functional and beautiful.

Most surfaces are covered with exquisite padded leather and the only change I notice is the bank of switches below the in-dash screen. These are now in shiny metal which highlights the central dash area. The suede-finished steering wheel is fat-rimmed giving a chunky and very ‘grip able’ feel while driving.

Carry-over must-have features such as a clear GPS screen and in-dash rear reversing camera are also found in the newer model.

The exterior's new nose harkens to the Reventón, with longer, more angular, more aggressive lines and a low central black splitter. The headlights with LED running lights (standard on AU models) appear slimmer, also adding to the aggressive lines of the front.

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There are more LEDs on the new rear lights, similar in style to the Murciélago LP 640’s rear lights. The newly redesigned rear features a black grill spanning the width of the rear highlighting the wide and low on-road stance.

On the road, at the wheel

The most noticeable improvement to the driving experience is the quickness of shifts with the revised e-gear. Flick the paddle to switch up and the shift is so quick you couldn’t blink faster, flick the paddle to shift down and a satisfying throttle blip slides you smoothly into the lower gear.

I found with the older Gallardo that, on hard up-shifts, you needed to let-up on the throttle slightly to allow a smoother shift as the computer transitioned into the next gear. With the new system's speed, the shifts occur noticeably quicker. Now, you simply keep the shoe in if you want an aggressive up-shift.

If you want to find out just how insane the LP560-4’s acceleration feels, there’s the launch control feature.

Launch control is activated with ESP turned off, then, foot on the brake, press the Corsa button, take it to 5000 rpm then lift the brake.

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It’s how you’ll embarrass the owners of Porsche GT2’s and Ferrari F430’s at the lights. It will give you a 0-100km/h time of 3.7sec and 0-200km/h in 11.8sec, and, unlike the Nissan GT-R, without losing your warranty in the progress.

Do this and the launch is amazing. You’re pushed hard into the seat with a surge of four-wheel traction acceleration and sonorous heaven from the exhaust. Would love to try this in a tunnel.

I have to say I would also love to try a modern Gallardo in manual form to see if the e-gear system masks anything of the experience. In Corsa mode however, it is the consumate sporting drive and a match for Porsche's PDK system.

On the road, the engine, e-gear and suspension improvements are evident - the newer model feels slightly tighter and a little more 'alive' to what's happening below.

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Regretably however, this was a first drive - just a day at the wheel rather than a full test. We will need to spend more time in the saddle of the LP560-4 to uncover some of the finer improvements and nuances of the drive. And to explore its real performance potential.

A fang on some telling country roads will tell the story. Watch for the next chapter when we can report back after a storming drive with Lamborghini's wild baby, the Gallardo LP560-4.

Right now, we're hooked. This is one hell of a supercar, and not as uncompromising as its stratospheric performance capabilities might suggest.

Many thanks once again to Shane Seczkowski for his photography services.

Gallery

Specifications

Engine 10 cylinders V90°, DOHC 4 valves, common-pin crankshaft
Capacity 5204cc
Compression Ratio 12.5 : 1
Maximum Power 412kW (552hp) @ 8000 rpm
Maximum Torque 540Nm (398lb-ft) @ 6500 rpm
Brakes Front: power vacuum, aluminium 8-cylinder alloy calipers. Ventilated discs 365x34mm.

Rear: power vacuum, aluminium 4-cylinder alloy calipers. Ventilated discs 356x32mm.

Wheels Front: Aluminium alloy, 19x8.5-inch

Rear: Aluminium alloy, 19x11-inch

Tyres Front: Pirelli PZero 235/35 ZR 19

Rear: Pirelli PZero 295/30 ZR 19

Dimensions Wheelbase: 2560mm

Length: 4345mm

Width: 1900mm

Height: 1165mm

Top Speed 325km/h
Acceleration 0-100km/h (62mph): 3.7 seconds

0-200km/h (124mph): 11.8 seconds

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Filed under: review, Lamborghini, petrol, Supercars, coupe, supercar, awd, Lamborghini Gallardo, performance, lamborghini gallardo lp560-4, lp560-4, lp560, enthusiast, 8cyl

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