If there’s something that Malaysian car buffs can be proud of, it would have to be our very own variant of the Lamborghini Gallardo.
The Gallardo MLE, or Malaysia Limited Edition, is the result of a year’s collaboration between Lamborghini KL and Automobili Lamborghini SpA. Only 20 units were built and so far 14 have found new homes.
In the flesh, the Gallardo MLE looks every bit like the Superleggera 570-4. It’s no coincidence. A Lamborghini survey showed that many Malaysians were flabbergasted by the Superleggera’s exterior design and the supercar maker obliged.
Unfortunately, the interior also carries the same theme as the name suggests; spartan dashboard and racing seats that hug tighter than your mom does. That’s not too comfortable for many owners who will only drive the car around the city. And so, the Gallardo MLE has a standard LP550-2 with the Superleggera 570-4 bodykit (titanium exhaust tips, carbon fibre skirting, carbon fibre rear diffuser and a sporty front bumper than juts out like Jay Leno’s chin) but the interior remains the same as the bog standard Gallardo LP550-2 with a sea of premium leather and Alcantara.
Three colours are offered, Blanco Monocerus (solid white), Arancio Borealis (pearl orange) and Verde Ithaca (pearl green). An LME badge is installed on the window sill just behind the driver’s seat. A bigger sticker of the same logo is on the front spoiler.
The last time we drove a Gallardo was at the Goldenport Park Circuit in Beijing two years ago where we attended a driving course by Lamborghini SpA. Now, that did not instantly turn us into race car drivers but at least it helped us to familiarise ourselves quicker this time as we drove out from Lamborghini KL’s gates in Glenmarie.
The automatic e-gear transmission with six cogs is not the smoothest gearbox around. Built by Marelli and also supplied to Ferrari and Maserati, gear changes are done via the paddles located behind the steering wheel. We opted to change gears manually because in full auto mode the computer shifted up and down often at the wrong moment, resulting in a bucking ride. Trust us, manual was easier and smoother.
As we hit the highway, the e-gear started to shine, swapping the cogs in 0.0012 seconds. In downshifts, the gearbox worked in tandem with the engine management system to blip the throttle automatically. Yes, there’s that sexy exhaust bark.
Along the Gombak-Bentong highway, sixth gear was enough to pull us through most traffic situations. In the more aggressive Corsa mode, engine howling as we dropped to third, the car rocketed away like a err… rocket.
The beauty of a supercar is in its degree of rawness; like the engine growl in the cabin, or how the drivetrain kicks out the power as you accelerate at full throttle, or how the tail wiggles and shakes as you power out of a sharp bend. Sounds easy, except that it has to do all of the above without annoying or scaring the owner.
The Gallardo did that extremely well. More often than not we felt like professional drivers who could feather the accelerator to get the tail to spin out slowly, placing the car smack dab into the apex with nose pointing out ready for the fastest exit from the corner; or carry the rear tyre spin all through a long sweeping curve, smoking and screeching the rubber.
The car really needs a professional driver to do that well, and we are not.
We were lucky to have Lamborghini KL main man, Marcus Chye, seated next to us to explain how we could achieve some of that. Now, not many brands provide an experienced race car driver to assist you in a test drive. Lamborghini KL does, and Chye’s advice is worth thousands of Ringgit.
We even managed to coax him into driving from Hutan Lipur Lentang near Bukit Tinggi back to Glenmarie just to find out what this supercar could really do in the right hands. Find out we did. The Gallardo MLE’s abilities are exhilarating. Using throttle steer to sweep the corners, and shifting the pivot point of the whole car from the front and gradually to the back by again feathering the accelerator, Chye showed us. The Gallardo MLE danced on the twisty bits.
With a 5,204cc V10 DOHC engine that makes 550bhp and 540Nm channeled only to the rear wheels, the Gallardo MLE demands a lot of respect if it is to work for you. Knowhow and experience are a must to take it near its limits.
The good thing is Lamborghini has managed to make it docile enough for the not so experienced to drive it around town looking like Hollywood superstars. Once out on the open road, the Gallardo MLE will raise the urge to sign up for the next driver’s training so that you too can dance with this raging Italian bull. -Hezeri Samsuri
Lamborghini Gallardo MLE
5,204cc V10 DOHC, 550bhp 540Nm, 0-100 in 3.9 secs, top speed 320kmph
RM868,000 excluding duties, road tax and insurance
Rear wheel Italian fun can’t be any better than this.