The car was originally conceived as a sort of “baby” Lambo to broaden the portfolio of a brand that had really been best known for it’s supercars, the latest being the LP700-4 Aventador. Yes, there had been “lesser” Lambos in the past like the Urraco, Jalpa and even the LM002 SUV but they had always been in the tall shadows of legends like the Miura and Countach.
But after driving the Gallardo, I understand why that isn’t so much the case. For starters, it’s a very approachable car with easy to reach controls and surprising passenger comfort, considering it’s a mid-engined and mostly wedge-shaped supercar. It helps that the car we tried had additions like an infotainment system that looks lifted pretty much right out of an Audi. Which it is.
Sure, the seat and pedal box is a little narrow and your legs are canted slightly right thanks to the intrusion of the front-right wheel well, but you get over it pretty quick.
It helps that the Gallardo is so easy to drive—clutch take-up is fine, determining the bite-point a little tougher but once you get the hang of it—and we did as soon as we pulled off—it’s nothing at all, really.
Once you get moving, you’re unmistakably experiencing nothing less than a full-blooded bull from Sant’ Agata. The 550 horsepower sits right behind your head and when it’s on full-song, it really is a screamer; peak power comes at fairly astronomical 8,000 r.p.m., with the gorgeous chromed shifter snicking through the gears in a fashion akin to a well-oiled rile bolt.
On top of all that, you have an all-wheel drive system that helps reduce your turning circle and makes for quicker left-to-right transitions (also remember that the Gallardo’s wheelbase is hardly longer than that of an Audi TT) and immediate turn-in. But somehow, Lamborghini has managed to make it so that even though you’ve got a sport-tuned suspension, with anti roll-bars and low-inertia anti-dive (for braking) and -squat (for acceleration) additions, the car is not uncomfortable to drive. I could see driving this car on the daily, unless I needed the luggage space.
Still, at the end of the day, this was my favorite of the bunch. Yes, even better than the…
The Lamborghini Murciélago, on the other hand, really was the mother of all supercars in its heyday. It’s since been surpassed by hotter versions like the LP670-4 SV and Aventador, but there is no denying that the Murciélago is still very much a star in the supercar world.
It has the scissor doors that have made Lamborghinis famous to the point where aftermarket tuners are developing “Lamborghni door” mods for everything from Chrysler 300Cs, to Cadillac Escalades and Bentleys. And much to our surprise, they’re surprisingly easy to close once seated. There’s the seating position that has you almost reclined, your feet facing left just as they do in the Gallardo. Then there’s the quirkiness, like seatbelts that connect on the driver’s left side as opposed to the right as they do on most cars, and the e-brake lever mounted on the door as opposed to the center console, all details that let you know that you’re driving something different today.
Of course you’re likely to forget all that when you consider the engine. This is a 640 hp, 6.5-litre V12 that, like in the Gallardo, is mounted right behind your head. If the Gallardo screams when you hoof it, then the Murciélago positively shrieks all the way up to the 7,500 r.p.m. redline. Fantastic. And as we mention n the video, it fills the whole cabin when you lay into it, cutting deep down into your core. What a noise.
You can tell that Lamborghini has been doing the supercar thing for quite sometime, too, because, like the Gallardo, the Murciélago is actually drivable at city speeds. Yes, the clutch is a little heavier than that which is found on its little brother, but it’s a far cry away from the truck-like number found on the Diablo. Sure, the shifter may be a little long on throw, but finding the slots is easy (we never missed one on our drive) and the response positive.
Don’t kid yourself, though; you’ve still got massive blind spots over your shoulders, very little room for your legs and head and pretty much nil when it comes to the luggage. But really, who cares?
The seats were actually a little snugger ‘round the hips than those found in the Gallardo, which is surprising at first but becomes more obvious when you consider that that car is meant to be used more regularly than this one. Otherwise, the Murciélago was the first Lamborghini built under Audi’s stewardship of the brand, and it shows inside.
Still, though. When you’re driving a Murciélago, you’re driving a spectacle. Especially when it’s painted in a faux-police livery as it is here.
Ferrari 360 Spider F1
As we mention in the video, in contrast to the Lambos, you can tell the Ferrari is all business as soon as you step in. If you’re planning on seeing a technical masterpiece of a cockpit inside any Ferrari model before the current generation, you won’t; these are driver’s cars, through and through. Heck, I’m sure that if Ferrari had the choice, their interiors would include a steering wheel, pedals, tachometer, speedometer, temp gauge, fuel gauge, shift lever, a couple of seats and maybe a heater. That’s it. Anything else, from infotainment systems to seat warmers, is just riffraff. That being said, look inside a current 458 Italia or F12 Berlinetta, and you’ll find cockpit techno-babble unlike anything else on the market today, let alone any Ferrari models prior. It’s like they’re playing catch up to the nth degree.
But oh, how wonderful it is to sit inside the 360. Everything is close at-hand, with a perfect seating position and that glorious V8 wailing behind you. As you start to attack the bends, you get the sensation of connectedness that the Lambos can’t quite match—it really is like there’s no steering column, like your tweaking the front axle with your fingertips. It also helps that thanks to the mid-engined Ferrari’s cab-forward stance, you sit almost right over the front wheels, so the car is so easy to place in any situation.
I was, however, let down by the F1 auto transmission, for two reasons. The first being that the Ferrari manual is such a classic, and the transmission found on this particular car was surprisingly clunky and hard to get to shift from 1st to 2nd without the gnashing of the gears. Not so cool when you’re pulling away from a red light in front of hundreds of people. Not cool at all.
However, once you get going and the cogs swapping becomes smoother it’s not so bad having the auto, as it allows you to concentrated on getting the most out of your throttle and braking inputs without having to worry about the clutch as well.
Of all three cars here, this is almost the purest to drive of the bunch, with the exception of the auto ‘box. Oh, and it’s a convertible to so not only does everyone see who’s behind the wheel, but you can see them better as well, without the blind spots of the other two. As long as the soft top is down, of course.
Stay tuned for part II of our experience.