Americans may have a love affair with cars, but it is the Italians who are absolutely passionate about the automobile. Only Italy could produce exotic machines like this 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo. This is the latest in a long line of supercars from the marque of the raging bull, and it’s the most affordable Lambo available. But that doesn’t mean they left anything out.
In fact, the 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo offers everything that a serious supercar buyer expects. The lean, low-slung aluminum body, inspired by an ItalDesign styling proposal, is sharp, sleek, and perfectly exotic. Its stealth fighter style bears a strong family resemblance to its big brother, the Murcielago. But the Gallardo’s 100.8 inch wheelbase is squeezed into a body that is only 169.3-inches long. That’s shorter than a Jetta compact, also made by Lamborghini’s parent company, Volkswagen.
In true supercar tradition, the Gallardo is built on a sophisticated all-aluminum space frame chassis. But truth be told, the Italian chassis artisans had a little help from the German engineers at Audi who have more experience working with alloy automotive structures than anyone else.
Audi engineers also influenced a departure from Lamborghini’s 12-cylinder custom. The Gallardo is powered by a 5-liter four-cam, 40-valve V10 with state-of-the-art variable geometry intake system, variable valve timing, and drive-by-wire throttle. The block’s 90-degree v-angle also lowers the car’s center of gravity as well as the engine cover. While the engine configuration is a step away from Lambo tradition, output of 500 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque is exactly what we expect from a car wearing the fighting bull that the Gallardo is named after.
The V10 is mated to a 6-speed sequential manual gearbox. The e-gear arrangement includes paddle shifters on the steering column and an automatic clutch. Made by Marelli, it is similar to units we’ve tried on recent Ferraris. Operating modes include sport, full automatic, and low traction. From there power flows through Lamborghini’s Viscous Traction permanent all-wheel drive system with electronic traction control, on to 19-inch wheels wearing big ZR-rated Pirelli P Zero tires.
We put the tires’ traction to the test and recorded a best 0-to-60 time of 5.1 seconds. Under normal conditions,70% of torque goes to the rear wheels. Enough so the quarter mile charged by in 13.3 seconds at 109 miles-per-hour. Frankly, we expected even faster results. But the Gallardo’s launch is anticlimactic, thanks to a soft low end throttle response, and slow one-to-two gear change. Once beyond that, the Gallardo hammered down the track like a raging bull, and into the challenging corners of Georgia’s Roebling Road Raceway, where the Gallardo displayed a remarkably benign character.
Unlike many exotic sports cars, the Gallardo is very easy to drive fast. Its extremely high level of feedback and efficient electronic stability program allow a driver to confidently explore its lofty performance limits. The all-wheel-drive and super-tight double wishbone suspension deliver mild understeer on corner entry, which gives way to a very neutral balance by mid-corner. With the engine up to track speed, the free-revving V10 pulls hard out of corners, while the gearbox delivers quick, tight shifts.
Braking is as phenomenal as the handling, thanks to huge Brembo discs with 8-piston front calipers and anti-lock control. Their tremendous power and feedback allows you to push deep into corners, in search of that extra tenth of a second.
The Gallardo is the most enjoyable, most secure, best Lamborghini yet. That praise goes for street drives as well. The Gallardo delivers a very firm, but not overly harsh ride. It’s no luxury car, but much more refined than even the Murcielago. But high doors, a tiny rear window, and push button reverse, still makes backing up an exercise in faith.
The cabin reflects Lamborghini’s 21st century refinement, being clean and logically laid out. It’s very narrow, with a jet cockpit feel. And leg room is classic Italian car tight. But modern safety features like front dual-stage and side-impact airbags abound. Once you squeeze into the very firm, but supportive, seats, you face large, clear gauges directly ahead and a satellite cluster atop the center stack, as well as a CD stereo and automatic climate controls, both unmistakably Audi, that are straightforward, foolproof, with a high quality feel.
While more comfortable than earlier Lambos, the Gallardo’s tiny trunk means that you won’t be packing for any long trips. But the Gallardo isn’t about long distance cruising; it’s a rarified high speed machine that is always begging to be freed.
And it is driving freedom that comes with a price of $176,400. Monster money for most of us, but over 100-grand less than the Murcielago.
The 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo is 100-percent Lamborghini, and 100-percent a pure exotic car. And while we can no longer say it’s 100-percent Italian, it is still a machine made possible only by people that are eternally passionate about the automobile.
Engine: 5-Liter Four-cam, 40-valve V10
Torque: 376 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 5.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.3 Seconds @ 109 MPH