What is it?
Essentially it’s a clubsport version of the already rather fabulous Gallardo. Which means, in theory, it’s one of the more focused supercars the world has ever seen.
Lamborghini’s brief for the Superlegerra was initially pretty straightforward; to make a Gallardo that would weigh exactly 100kg less than the standard car, and in the process create a machine to make the Ferrari F430 and Porsche 911 Turbo look decidedly second-rate.
For a while Lamborghini toyed with the idea of binning the Gallardo’s four-wheel-drive system because that would have saved 50kg in one hit. But in the end Sant'Agata’s top brass decided that four-wheel drive is an integral pat of a modern Lamborghini’s genetic make-up, so the weight would have to be saved in other areas.
About 500 miles of carbonfibre later, the engineers reached their target. Everything from the seats to the engine cover to the electric rear wing to the door inserts were binned and replaced with lighter, carbonfibre equivalents. Even the gearbox casing was re-engineered out of magnesium to save weight while the regular alloy wheels were swapped for lighter forged alloy items. The exhaust system, too, was redesigned to save kilos, and the specified unit not only weighs 8kg less but also produces less back pressure.
Result? Another 10bhp for the 5.0-litre V10 engine, making 522bhp at 8000rpm in total. Factor in the Superleggera’s new featherlight 1330kg kerbweight and that means the power-to-weight ratio has jumped from 358 to 392bhp per tonne, while torque-to-weight has gone from 263 to 282lb ft per tonne. For the record, a Ferrari F430 produces 333bhp per tonne, a 911 Turbo 298bhp per tonne.
What’s it like?
In a word, sensational. The latest Gallardo (ie the revised-for-2006 version, not the original model) is not exactly a blunt instrument to begin with, but remove 100kg from the package and insert a wee bit more power towards the top end, and what you end up with is something else again.
The noise is what hits you first, because the Superleggera’s new exhaust system has liberated a good few extra decibels from the V10, especially at the top end. But the real step forward is the handling; it is now close to racing-car sharp, and although the steering is meatier than before, the way the Superleggera hangs on through quick corners, and changes direction so rapidly through slower bends, is enough to make the back of your neck go all tingly. The brakes, too, are monumental once the (optional) carbon ceramic discs have come up to temperature.
The only downside is what the Superleggera does on or near the limit of its admittedly huge reserves of grip. Thanks to standard-fit Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres, adhesion in the dry is enough to make your eyes water, and even when you press on hard the underlying trait is understeer. But if you do end up having to deal with an oversteer slide, you need to be lightning-quick with your inputs to avoid a spin. Gone, in other words, is the creamy, benign on-limit balance of the regular car. And that’s the price you pay, inevitably, for having so much grip up to the point of no return.