Lamborghini Gallardo SE Review

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
lamborghini gallardo se review

Testing a Gallardo SE in Miami is like sipping Chateau Lafite Rothschild in a public urinal. The little Lambo was born to annihilate the twisting mountain roads surrounding Italy's supercar valley, or flirt with V3 on a derestricted German autobahn. Miami's geometric streets and traffic-choked highways offer the Gallardo driver nothing more than a sinuous onramp and an occasional half-mile sprint– which is plenty damn exciting but about as satisfying as red wine slammers. So, whilst fending-off a frantic flackmeister preoccupied with the definition of the words "driving impression," I guided the baby bull towards the nearest race track.

As I quick-quick-slowed through the cars clogging I-95 North, I was taken aback by the lack of stare and attention given the Gallardo. With its strange combination of diminutive footprint, cab forward stance, drop snout, near horizontal windshield and unrelenting angularity, the Gallardo lacks what native S-Class owners call "uberholprestige": that indefinable yet unmistakable car-isma that convinces fellow road users to move the Hell over. Either that or Floridians are fed-up with the automotive tastes of Bolivian drug lords. In any case, we now know what happens when a Belgian designs a supercar for a legendary Italian nameplate under the wary eye of a German conglomerate; and it ain't what I'd call pretty.

What DO you call it? Audighini? Lamboraudi? Inside, it's equally hard to tell. Pride of place goes to a bog standard Audi head unit and dual-zone climate control system. A row of faux aluminum toggle switches tries to reclaim the cabin from Ingolstadt's anal retentives, violating both common sense (depress and hold for lights?) and haptic satisfaction (a Barbie washing machine offers more profound clickery). This single stylistic flourish is lost in an interior dominated by generic minimalism. The Gallardo's bland, unbranded gauges are only the worst example of the flairectomy. If you're looking for a sense of occasion, breathe deep; an intoxication of musky leather provides a much-needed supercar cue.

Alternatively, prick up your ears. At idle, the Gallardo's V10 sounds like a mono-chromatic bassoon player jangling a set of keys. Up to 3500rpm, it's hard to tell which is less impressive: the amount of usable torque or the engine's subdued sonic signature. At four grand, the Gallardo SE gets its freak on. When I finally mashed the go-pedal, charging down the literally named Beeline Highway, the Gallardo's 512-horse powerplant emitted a bellow that sent distant gators scrambling for submersion. The aural belligerance increased in direct proportion to the escalating violence created by the car's gut-punching thrust. This all the way to the Gallardo's scarcely credible 8100rpm redline.

Two clicks on the stationary e-gear paddles (flippers to a piss ant parody of Audi's DSG) snapped us to 140 miles per hour. And yet we seemed no closer to the limitless, brooding horizon. And then the Gallardo started to vibrate like an electrified motel bed, indicating a suspension issue, an alignment problem, worn tires or some lamentable combination thereof (not entirely unknown to drivers of thoroughly played press cars). My soul mate demanded I Chuck Yeager the situation, but repeated blasts through the century and a half mark only exacerbated the supercar DT's. Meanwhile, we'd arrived.

I most emphatically did NOT take the Lamborghini Gallardo SE onto the track at the Moroso Motor Sports Park in Jupiter, Florida. But if I had, I might have reported that the Gallardo was as happy roaring around tight corners as a Prius golf carting in an Earth Day parade. That the German/Italian pocket rocket is a perfectly stable platform for drivers determined to hear the clack of their passenger's helmet ricocheting off the side window. That the four-wheel drive supercar turns eight tenths into five tenths, and punishes nine into eleven tenths with an understeer slide– unless you switch off the ESP traction control.

In that case, I probably would have discovered that the Gallardo's tail loses its implacable resolve to stay behind the front end– which would have been great for some tire-smelting drifting but a REAL problem for anyone stupid enough to paddle the e-gear during lateral-G's. I might also have pointed-out that the Gallardo SE's uprated brakes still fail to meet the standard set by Stuttgart's stoppers for bite, feel and ferocity. But, as I said, I didn't get the chance to put the Gallardo SE through its paces; and I'm not the type of automotive writer to indulge in uninformed conjecture.

Remaining in the theoretical realm, it's easy to see how Lamborghini could take the Gallardo to the next level. A couple of turbos would eliminate the low-end torque deficiency. A DSG gearbox would transform the herky-jerky e-Gallardo into a daily driver. And a bit of extra design coherence would sort out the uglies. Oh wait, that's the upcoming Audi R8. Huh. Now what?

[Prestige Imports provided the vehicle, insurance, taxes and a tank of gas.]

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2 of 3 comments
  • on Mar 06, 2007

    This review is a bit too critical, nothing else to say. Lamborghini's are the best, but judging by my ID, I'm a bit biased.

  • Mark Westaby Mark Westaby on Mar 27, 2010

    This is a stunning car, which has really grown on me. Fantastic to drive though the Audi influence is in danger of removing the rawness -- some things getting a bit too close to the dreadful R8. Never driven a car that turns quite so many heads, though it gets as many angry looks as envious ones and turns other drivers into raging lunatics.

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