Being an automotive journalist does have its bright sides - in shades of white, yellow and orange. There are cars, there are Supercars and then there are Lamborghinis. In my short career of almost 8 years, I have driven the best of cars : Audi R8, Porsche 911, Mercedes Benz SL-63 AMG, Jaguar XK-RS and the likes but the orgasmic beauties I experienced last friday simply overshadow every past memory of being pushed into the driver's seat with sane amounts of G forces accompanied by mile wide grins on the face.
Lamborghini isn't new to India. Its a relatively young brand though and the company is currently celebrating their 50 years of existence and were in the news recently at the launch of the Aventador Roadster. They also sold over 2000 master-pieces last year around the world and aim to grow double digits in 2013. India is an emerging market with the Mumbai dealership in full swing and the Delhi center coming up at a fast pace. The 3rd outlet will be in Bangalore and combined, these three should be able to sell enough numbers to keep Pavan Shetty, head of Indian operations, smiling 24x7!
To celebrate their 50th year and to launch two new models in India, namely the the new Gallardo LP 560-4 and the LP 570-4 Edizione Tecnica for Rs 2.6 crore and Rs 2.9 crore respectively, the Italian brand organised its first ever track day at the Buddh International Circuit for key Indian journos on the 22nd Feb. The next two days were reserved for current and prospective owners (approximate 80 odd in numbers) and we believe a fair amount of these born with a silver spoon individuals were either Ferrari owners or were looking at becoming one!
The LP570-4 Superleggera
So, what better way to start my weekend than experience the wild side of motoring. With two models at disposal, namely, the LP550-2 and the LP570-4 Superleggera, I walked to the latter first. But there was a problem. I stand 6 feet tall and blame my Punjabi nature and Delhi's wide variety of delicacies on offer, I have a fairly large built and weigh almost 10% of the Superleggera's weight! Getting into the Gallardo 560-4 based 'extreme' road car in itself is an exercise for people like me. Getting into the one piece carbon-fiber seat, made keeping the low weight in mind, is another task. It isn't electronically controlled either with 'weight saving' taking priority. This baby means business and delivers what customers want. A quick blip of the throttle had the pretty eye candies standing in the pit area running for cover!
We were to drive for three laps. That's 15.42 km of the purest form of motoring known to man-kind. However we had a leader-cum-expert up front who ofcourse didn't allow us to unleash all the 570 horses, well almost! With the first lap meant for understanding the vehicle better, I took over the automatic mode, thanks to paddle shifters. Now you won't find any fancy 7 or 8 speed automatic transmission here but the normal Gallardo's six-speed, robotized E-gear transmission as standard. Power goes to all the four wheels (and hence the name tag 570-4) and the leech like grip can truly be experienced on a F1 race track. Lap two and we finally went pedal to metal, making full use of the 90-degree all alloy V10 engine. The Superleggera hits the ton mark in 3.4 seconds and goes from naught to 200km/h in just over 10. It is around half a second quicker to 100 than the 550-2 and this was evident when I started gaining in on the 550-2 in front of me before the lead car noticed me and lifted off the throttle! Given the road, it will do over 320km/h though the back straight of the BIC allowed us to kiss the 270km/h mark only before dropping the anchors on the special ceramic brakes! The perfect symphony from the V10 engine placed behind the driver's seat in the meantime keeps you grinning - only enthusiasts will understand why cars like the Lamborghini sound like none other. Lessons in sound engineering seem to have been applied perfectly well!
The Gallardo LP550-2 experience
While switching over to the less extreme and more comfortable LP550-2, a few fellow journos did tell me that this wouldn't be as enjoyable as the Superleggera. Its true in many ways but for a market like India, even the LP550-2 can rip the pants off every other car on the road. Its still a Lamborghini with jaw dropping looks and a lighter price tag. And its more comfortable with more creature comforts and that every-day Supercar feel. It develops 20 horses less but most other bits are the same. It even did 260km/h on the back-straight and quick corners had the traction control warning light coming on the display like the world was about to end! Then there are the Sports and Corsa modes to play with which can make other so called Supercars wet their pants. But believe you me, the stock mode felt more than enough for me and had the right ingredients, leaving me sweating by the end of the 3 laps. No, the air-conditioner wasn't off!
Gear shifts are less brutal and while the 550-2 takes a fraction of a second more to reach the ton mark, its won't be noticeable to most owners. The 550-2 also weighs about 30 kilos less than the 560-4 (no front drive-shafts you see) while putting about ten less horses. Its also got the suspension lift feature and lastly, its around 3/4th of a crore cheaper than a Ferrari. It will still drop the same amount of jaws on the road and provide equal thrills. Ours in white looked exotic too!
This 3+3 lap drive not only showcased the technologically advanced engineering of these Supercars but also Lamborghini's attitude towards the Indian market of being a serious niche player. Its rare to see such a brand conduct track days for select media and customers, putting down crores in the hands of strangers. With 2013 all set to witness three full fledged showrooms in the country, motoring enthusiasts can look forward to hearing more growls on the roads of metro cities!