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Lamborghini Gallardo SE Car Review | 7 December 2005

Driven December 2005

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It's definitely fast, but the bare figures don't tell the whole story, eliminating just 0.2 of a second to 62mph versus the regular car and a paltry few more mph top end - so you have to play around in-gear to really get a feel for why this car seems so involving.

It certainly cranks more quickly past the benchmarks, but there's an urgent delivery from the V10 that's more impactful than simply a relatively insignificant 20 brake on a car that's nearly 500 ponies up in the first place.

The downside is that e-gear isn't anywhere near as lovely as the Ferrari F430's F1, thumping unceremoniously from one gear to the next and never quite hitting the sweet spot in the rev-range that means a slight lift is unnecessary.

You still have to learn to drive the Gallardo quickly, if only to mitigate some of the worst excesses of the gearbox. When you do, it's a bloody brilliant thing.

Damp conditions on the test route meant allowing a little more time for the tyres and brakes to get some therms embedded, but pitching in hard with standing water on the floor and still exiting the corner with the car pointing the right way is a joy.

Especially in a Lamborghini with a five-litre V10 blaring out back, and especially when you remember to hold onto a gear for the full 8,000rpm screamer. The balance is just superb - lift off hard, and the precise steering communicates, but not quite transparently enough when you can carry so much speed.

Similarly, the brakes are powerful, but get very, very hot. It feels, as I've said before, like a Porsche 911 Turbo with a mid-engined layout.

Tractable, helpful and ultimately easy to drive incredibly quickly, but less simple to extract the last percentile from. It requires muscle and hustle, and more than a little concentration, but the rewards are worth snuffing out.

It's also pretty damn practical for something that looks so exotic. The SE gets leather and aircon, along with a colour reversing camera (not that it needs it really) and satnav.

Comparisons to the Ferrari are impossible to avoid, so I won't try. Both are brilliant at being genuine 95-per-cent chunks of supercar pie.

But the way they do it will appeal to different drivers and different attitudes. The Ferrari, ultimately, is the sweeter and better-sorted car - rear-wheel drive and E-diff working in almost ethereal harmony.

The F1 gearbox the nearest thing they've yet got to a reason not to have a clutch since 7G-Tronic in modern Mercs. And it's the one to have if you're going to be a purist about it. But the Gallardo is scrumpy to the F430's Chablis.

It's that little bit rawer and more brutal, but just as effective in real terms. The recent advances with Ferrari's differential in the F430 have neutralized rather than negated the Gallardo's fourwheel drive stompability, but it just goes to show that there are more ways than one to skin a dynamic cat.

With the SE, the Gallardo is even more appealing, but doesn't quite match the Ferrari for feel. Saying that, and confoundingly - I prefer the way this one looks. Especially in white. Bugger.

Tom Ford

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