Would suit: Chris Moyles
Performance: 197mph, 0-60 3.6 secs
Combined fuel consumption: 13 mpg
Further information: 020 7589 1472
Less is more is always a popular mantra in the manufacturing and service industries, not least because it allows them to charge higher prices for less stuff. Not surprisingly, some of the more highfalutin' car manufacturers have cottoned on. Ferrari has sold us its stripped-out Challenge Stradales, while Porsche has been at it for years with its RS models and, more recently, the GT2s and GT3s.
The Gallardo Superleggera (which means, literally, Superlight) is Lamborghini's toe-dip into this rarefied sphere. For a company with little or no serious racing tradition, its cheek is impressive, but the package is serious – it has removed the stereo, replaced it with a wobbly bit of carbon fibre and bunged another £22,000 on the price.
The Gallardo that awaits me at HR Owen's Acton service department stands out among the tens of millions of pounds worth of lurid-coloured Murcielagos and F430s because of, rather than despite, its stealth-bomber paintwork. Lamborghini has shed 100kg from the standard model by fitting thinner glass and replacing much of the metal with carbon fibre or magnesium. There is no great power boost over the standard car, mind – a new exhaust system has released only another 10bhp – but firmer suspension and bigger brakes intensify the experience.
This all makes me feel a touch guilty about the half-packet of Tunnock's Tea Cakes I stuffed down my throat on the journey up, which, combined with Teena's camera gear, rapidly undermine Lamborghini's weight-saving work. The cakes, and the many that have gone before them, also cause problems when it comes to the four-point race harness, whose buckles I struggle to assemble somewhere around my belly button as I sit, forcibly slumped, in the thin, spine-bending racing seat, like an osteoporotic octogenarian.
Though the exterior does all it can to help the Gallardo slip beneath the radar (as much as any Lamborghini can), the V10 engine, which clatters into raucous life behind my head, would rather give the game away if you tried to creep up on anything. You hear and feel every valve open, every drive shaft's revolution. Heaven knows how it must sound from the outside: a chainsaw made from bits of a Kawasaki superbike? Chris Moyles breaking wind while wearing hot pants? Yet it is still a friendly car to potter around in at low speed. Things only start to go horribly wrong when you squeeze the accelerator – ever so gently – and the thing careers up the road like a spitwad from a rubber band. The brakes and steering are just as brutal. I soon learn that it is best just to let it calm down on its own, from a distance, as with a wild animal that has trodden on a wasp.
Whether things are more brutal than the standard Gallardo is rather like comparing going over Niagara Falls in a barrel to doing the Cresta Run in a Sainsbury's carrier bag. Unless you do one straight after the other, the memory of the first will instantly be supplanted by the terror of the other. Certainly I wouldn't advocate playing spot the difference on the roads of Britain, as many of the more excitable car writers are prone to doing.
Most Lamborghinis rack up the lion's share of their mileage cruising the brothels of Mayfair and the harbour fronts of the Côte d'Azure. The Superleggera, though, is surely destined to be a track-day superstar. *
It's a classic: Lamborghini 400GT
This has to be one of the most amazing cars to have been built in the... well, can you guess which decade the Lamborghini 400GT Flying Star II was built? Not easy, is it? That extraordinary sharp-edged styling, those large, swooping headlamps and the plentiful glass area are bang up-to-date (plus, it's a hatchback), but this one-off show car was actually unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1966 – a time when the Morris Minor was still considered modern. It was the last gasp of Carrozzeria Touring, a noble Italian coach-builder at that time struggling to survive. The company hoped the Flying Star – based on Lamborghini's second model, the 400GT – would grab Signor Lamborghini's attention and make it into production, but he chose the more conservative Islero instead and Touring went into liquidation a year later. The Flying Star was its last car.Reuse content