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Lamborghini Gallardo LP560/4

Don't be deceived - despite appearances the entry-level Lambo features a raft of upgrades

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The new Gallardo is expensive, but its extra performance and more aggressive looks show the age of the mean supercar is well and truly back. And can you imagine Ferrari or Aston Martin offering their models in dramatic matt colours? Of course not. With Spyder and lightweight Superleggera versions due to arrive in the next 15 months, the Gallardo’s future is looking stronger than ever – and so is Lamborghini’s.

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Blink and you might just miss the changes to the latest Lamborghini Gallardo. Yet as well as being faster and more powerful, the LP560/4 is easier to drive than ever.

When it arrived in 2003, the Gallardo became the car that saved Lamborghini. For all its glamour, the firm had spent years in the financial doldrums, averaging only 250 customers annually. Today, and 7,000 sales later, the model accounts for 90 per cent of all Lamborghinis registered, and the marque is enjoying record profits.

Understandably, it didn’t want to alter the winning formula too much with the latest variant – although to be fair, the changes are more obvious when old and new are side-by-side.

Murciélago-shaped air intakes have been fitted in the nose, while the sharper front end, daytime running lights, wider rear grille and striking tail-lamps from the Reventón also feature. The result is a more aggressive look, which is emphasised by the new range of matt-finish body panels Lamborghini is offering.

Under the bonnet, extensive changes have been made, with the arrival of an all-new 5.2-litre V10 engine. It develops 560bhp, hence the newcomer’s name – the ‘4’ refers to the four-wheel-drive system.

Replacing the 520bhp 5.0-litre, the unit produces 540Nm of torque – an increase of 30Nm over the outgoing powerplant – yet is 20kg lighter. And the E-Gear semi-automatic transmission, the choice of 70 per cent of UK customers, now shifts faster.

All this results in a power-to-weight ratio which can match that of the old lightweight Superleggera. The LP560/4 dispatches the sprint from 0-62mph in only 3.7 seconds (three-tenths-of-a-second quicker) and goes on to achieve a top speed of 202mph. What’s more, fuel economy is up by 4mpg to 20.6mpg, and CO2 emissions down 75g/km to 325g/km.

On the road, the upgrades produce a smoother, more refined drive. While the ride is a bit harsh on rough surfaces, the performance is more accessible and, on full throttle, the V10 lets out a heady, high-pitched scream. It sounds so fantastic, in fact, that you will find yourself slowing down on empty roads just so you can hit the accelerator and hear the whining note once more. There is greater feedback through the steering wheel and driver’s seat than previously, too.

Take it on a closed racing circuit, and the LP560/4 is surprisingly accessible. The driver can explore all the grip on offer with confidence.

Arguably more impressive, though, is how easy the Gallardo is to drive on public roads. Even in heavy traffic, it can be no more threatening than a hot hatchback – and that’s not something which could be said of previous Lamborghini models.

The LP560/4 costs £147,330, so it’s taken a £20,000 leap further away from the reach of most wallets. Even more so when you consider the popular E-Gear transmission option on the model we drove will set buyers back a further £6,250. Ceramic brakes are a whopping £9,730 extra and gorgeous black alloy wheels add £2,000.

The new Gallardo is a superb car. And at those prices, no wonder Lamborghini’s finances are so healthy.

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