2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera Review

2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera - Now you see it ...


The rakish $219,800 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera -- $255,695 with my test car's options -- didn't seem to belong on the Eisenhower Expressway with Toyotas, Chevrolets, SUVs and other mass-produced vehicles. Rather, it felt like it would be a lot more at home on California's Rodeo Drive or at South Beach, Fla.

But there was the menacing-looking jet black (Lamborghini calls it "Nero Peseus") Gallardo Superleggera, mixing it up with the usual half-frantic afternoon traffic on the Eisenhower.

I was tucked in a supportive sport bucket seat with its built-in side air bag behind the car's wheel. Sven Asmus, marketing director of the Bentley-Lamborghini Gold Coast dealership on Rush Street, was in the passenger seat, talking about people who buy such a car.

"It's really everybody," Asmus said, as we drove at 65-70 mph -- in a car that can hit 195 mph. "Buyers include young people who come into a lot of money and car enthusiasts who like to drive hard on race tracks. Celebrities, such as professional athletes, buy a Lamborghini. Customers come from smack dab in the city, others from the suburbs.

"Some buyers are people who tire of the typically long wait for a Ferrari they ordered. A Gallardo is readily available and sells for list price, not a premium price."

Are they all males? "Well, the president of the local Lamborghini owner's club chapter is a woman," Asmus said.

The mid-engine Gallardo Superleggera (Super Light) is special because it's a lighter weight -- and thus faster -- version of the regular Gallardo, which is among the world's fastest cars. Extensive use of strong, but lightweight, carbon fiber trims its weight about 285 pounds to 2,998 pounds.

The large sideview mirrors -- needed because of marginal rear vision -- are carbon fiber, and so are the underbody plate, engine bay, hood, side sills, inner door panel and rear spoiler. Rear window glass has been replaced by lighter polycarbonate.

There's 10 additional horsepower, bringing the total figure of the car's 5-liter V-10 engine -- which has a transparent cover behind the back window -- to 530 horsepower, thanks to a larger engine manifold and revised software.

It's understandable that the car does 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Car and Driver magazine did 0-100 mph in an amazing 7.9 seconds with the Superleggera.

You can get this Lamborghini with a conventional six-speed manual gearbox and clutch. But my test car's six-speed automatic/manual "e-gear" transmission had a separate dashboard button to put the car in reverse gear. The transmission had clunky shifts in automatic mode at lower speeds, although it worked well in manual mode with the shift paddles on each side of the steering wheel.

Estimated fuel economy is 10 mpg in the city and 17 on highways with the regular manual gearbox and 11 and 17 with the e-gear transmission. Higher figures with this type of car can't be expected.

The power rack-and-pinion steering is direct but rather heavy, although this is the type of steering you want on such a high-speed car. While firm, the ride is supple. Handling is extraordinary.

The all-wheel-drive Superleggera is essentially a road car that can be used as a race car. But that doesn't mean it's stripped, loud and uncomfortable, as are most competition cars. For instance, despite the weight cuts, it has power windows, with easily reached dashboard controls, a premium sound system with a CD changer, tilt-telescopic wheel and climate control system.

Lamborghini figures that, if folks pay more than $200,000 for an auto, they at least should have those items.

Speaking of options, you need deeper pockets if you want some of the Gallardo Superleggera's extras. For instance, carbon ceramic disc brakes with black calipers cost a whopping $15,600. They're best for hard track use because brake pedal feel with them is touchy for street use unless you really concentrate on braking smoothly at in-town speeds. (Porsche and Ferrari also charge a lot for such brakes.)

A rear spoiler will set you back $5,850. The carbon package costs $3,630. A rearview camera is $2,600. Floor mats are $650, as is the leather-covered wheel. And so on.

If you plan spending track time with the car, it's necessary to get the $650 "Prep. Track Tubular frame" (in-car hardware for an approximately $4,000 rollbar needed for track use). As it is, the car has standard aluminum space frame construction.

The Gallardo Superleggera stands only 45.9 inches high, so getting in and out calls for at least some athletic moves. The interior is roomy for extra-tall drivers, but auxiliary center dashboard gauges are too far away to read quickly.

However, as with any Lamborghini, the best gauge to watch is the speedometer, which is in front of the driver, because the car always tends to go much faster than he thinks it's going. But would Lamborghini owners have it any other way?


PRICE: $219,800.

LIKES: Unusually fast. Superb handling. Rakish styling. Generally comfortable.

DISLIKES: Expensive. Touchy brake pedal. Hard-to-read auxiliary gauges. Optional $15,600 brakes?

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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