First Drive: 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 on Yas Marina Circuit

First Drive: 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 on Yas Marina Circuit

2013 Lamborghini LP 550-2 3
So it was the usual monotonous evening when the big daddy of DriveArabia rang up to “offer” me something that I had least expected to come my way, before the world ended — to test drive a Lamborghini Gallardo, that too, on a racetrack. I was truly surprised, as much as he was by the friendly gesture from the Lamborghini dealers in Dubai, for the opportunity to briefly take the wheel of the luxury supercar manufacturer’s entry-level offering, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2.

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The event for the day comprised of a brief presentation about the car by the sales area manager for Lamborghini in the Middle East, followed by some track and safety instructions from the Lamborghini pro drivers. We were then led to a convoy of three Gallardo 550-2 cars, two Spiders and one Coupe, waiting to be thrashed around the Yas Marina circuit. I chose to enter the Coupe, simply because I preferred to enjoy the engine growl to its finest extent. Every driver was given four laps in the car, though we asked for a couple of extra laps for the sake of a video footage of our test-fly. Interestingly enough, the track consisted of only sharp turns and corners, and only one straight patch where the super-bull could be floored.

The Gallardo LP 550-2 is a typical supercar, with all the peculiarities of one, including backbone-crushing acceleration, rumbling exhaust note at full-throttle, jaw-dropping top-speed, limited seats, insane price tag and so on. So what makes it a true exotic? The badge, of course! But do not get a wrong impression about the price though, as it is cheaper than the cheapest Ferrari or McLaren. There is an electronically-controlled rear spoiler, aiding quicker deceleration from high speeds. As with any Lamborghini, the Gallardo sports an aggressively edgy stance, which makes it appear more masculine, and clearly conveys its mean intent to the beholder.

2013 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 interior 3

The interior space is fairly adequate for regular-sized people, though some 6-footers may appreciate a tad more space. The gauges and console layout is neat and very much VW-inspired, and all controls are well within reach, although one may have to get used to the headlight switch and fuel-door release button being in the centre console of the car. The gauge labels are all in Italian, so make sure you drive to the nearest gas station when those “benzine” levels go critically low. The body-hugging bucket seats are on the comfier side, and do not hug you uncomfortably tight. There are no push-start buttons or any gimmicks, just the regular twist-n-turn keyfob with remote locking and unlocking. The interior quality seemed stellar at a glance, with stitched leather covering most visible areas, and ’Lamborghini’ lettering on the dash. And the best thing of all, there is a proper handbrake, instead of the crappy electronic parking brake.

The rear mid-engined Gallardo LP 550-2 is propelled by the same 5.2-litre V10 engine powering the rest of the Gallardo family. As the numerals in the name suggest, the wee-10 churns out 550 horses, an output lesser than that of all the other Gallardo variants, if only by 10 or 20 horses, likely for marketing purposes. It sends the juice to the rear wheels for action through a paddle-shifter-actuated sequential 6-speed electrohydraulic automanual transmission featuring variable modes, such as ‘Sport‘, ‘Automatic‘ and ‘Corsa‘, where each mode also alters the stability control system and suspension settings, and the latter mode induces intentional neck-wrenching gearshifts. With a claimed 0-100 kph acceleration time of 3.9 seconds, it is also slower than all of its all-wheel-drive brethren except the Gallardo LP 560-4 Spyder.

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The experience in the entry-level Lamborghini is, in one word, exhilarating. The engine rumble settles down to a modest growl once the tacho falls into the lower rev band. But dab on the throttle in ‘Sport’ or ‘Corsa’ modes, and the car just menaces through its power bands, whizzing past the three-digit speed figures in the blink of an eye, with the exhaust growl progressively turning into a monstrous roar as the tacho hits the highest of the highs. The only straight patch on the circuit was rather short, and yet, even with relatively gentle inputs, we easily reached speeds of 220 kph in our Gallardo.

The feedback from the controls seemed minimal and vague. The steering is precise and sharp in inputs, but felt lifeless. The brakes were mushy, although strong enough to bring the car to a halt from insane speeds. Around the corners, the ESP seemed to interfere a bit too early when left in ‘Auto’ or ‘Sport’ drive modes. The ‘Corsa’ mode allowed more rear-sliding fun. Nevertheless, our short high-adrenaline stint with the agile Gallardo around tight corners left us pretty impressed.

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Our moment with the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 was more leisurely as we kept up with the racetrack convoy, although every other wannabe-racer journalist still managed to push the cars enough to put the stability control system to its ultimate test while not going any faster. Of course, we were a bit too over-conscious about driving an expensive exotic, besides enjoying every bit of the sheer pleasure, which only a supercar like the Lamborghini Gallardo can offer, for as long as possible. Except for a couple of enthusiastic turns, and a full-throttle blast on the short straight patch, we never really attempted any sort of stunts on the not-so-forgiving track, unlike the ‘Bravehearts’ in the other cars. Pushing luck is never an option with this car even for those with fairly deep pockets, and that probably is the only real paradoxical impasse one would face behind the wheels of a Lamborghini.

Some photos by Vivek Menon.

What do you think?



  1. Haha. Vivek tamed by the Lambo. I thought it would be the other way aromd.

  2. First the MP4-12C, now the Gallardo … you guys are crushing it!

  3. could not have been from the event. It is a much older Gallardo, since it has the old RNS-E unit in there.

    Also, if you truly want to enjoy the sound of the engine, wouldn’t it have been wiser to drive the convertible rather the coupe?

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury

      I don’t know a thing about differences in Lamborghinis since I don’t follow them, so you know better. All photos are from the event, but it does look like the black interior is of an older model. But as for convertibles, it’s debatable whether you’ll hear noise from the rear engine or just a buttload of wind noise.
      Update: Vivek says the red interior is of the Aventador. I’ll remove it.

  4. Unfortunately I don’t understand half of the article it’s a bit specialized language

  5. Looks like a good time! Vivek whats up with hitting the windshield wipers coming off the straightaway?! lol!

  6. Didn’t like the interior

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