The impressive show never ceases on the roads. Yet another addition to have the onlookers busy for a while. Gallardo LP550-2 is another masterpiece which is here to stay for a while.
||5204cc, 10cyl, 543BHP @ 8000, 398lb ft @ 6500
||14.1 - l/100km
||3.9 sec 0-100kph , 320kph
Because the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 isn't quite enough for everyone, there's now a less-is-more version. With no front driveshaft and all the power from the 5.2-litre V10 going to the rear wheels, this is the limited edition LP550-2 Valentino Balboni, and a chance to help shift a few more cars, deflect attention from the new Ferrari 458 Italia, and finally silence those whingers who claim that Lambos aren’t real drivers cars. Wonder how many have actually driven one?
So what’s the Balboni bit about in the Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni name?
Valentino Balboni is Lamborghini’s recently retired test driver, a man who worked under Ferrucio Lamborghini himself when the company was still knocking out Miuras. Just 250 units of this special Gallardo will be made to honour Balboni’s 41-year association with the firm. And since much of his time was spent wrestling with lairy rear-drive supercars, Balboni the car fittingly does without the standard Gallardo’s front differential and driveshafts.
That’s not all it does without, judging by the name. Where did the 10bhp go?
Ditching the front shaft and diff has cut the weight 30kg to 1380kg, although that’s without fluids – say 1480kg measured the conventional way. That means that the rear-driver still delivers a better power to weight ratio even with 543bhp (550ps) instead of 552bhp. But why reduce it at all? Because Lamborghini doesn’t want the rear driver overshadowing the four-wheel drive car.
And does it?
On paper, no. Zero to 100kph takes 3.9sec, two tenths longer because of the inferior traction and it suffers the ignominy of failing to crack 200mph (320kph) thanks to the power reduction. Oh, the shame!
Forget all that and remember the power-to-weight ratio. Where it counts, on the road, the Balboni is every bit as rapid as the 560, whatever the performance figures and oddly muted exhaust note suggests.
Compared with the Murcielago’s V12, the direct-injection V10 is buttery smooth and was perfectly matched in our test car to an old fashioned six-speed manual gearbox. Don’t be intimidated by the open metal gate – the change is slick and the clutch no heavier than a family car’s. You can still pay extra for the e-gear semi-auto if you wish.