Gallardo - First U.S. Driver's Impressions
Sunday, August 17, 2003
The last lottery item at the Lamborghini Club Awards dinner in Monterey was the opportunity to be the first non-factory driver of the new Gallardo in the United States. At the urging of my wife, Patti, I had bought our tickets just as the lottery began. To my surprise and excitement, having not even been close on all of the other prizes, our ticket was drawn. After the dinner John Amette who is Lamborghini’s After Sales – Western Region representative, told me where to report the next morning for the test drive. This is a description of that test drive.
As we approached the meeting place off Highway One just north of Monterey, the yellow Gallardo was sitting there waiting for me. John met us and we walked around the car just admiring the lines. We admired the “athletic stance” of the car, the lateral air intakes and the aerodynamic look. The doors hinged, which was unexpected, but John explained that it was to distinguish the Gallardo from the V12’s. I would have preferred scissor doors. Inside the leather seat cuddled around me and leather sports wheel fit perfectly in my hands. A few easy adjustments and we were set to go. The instruments are well laid out and easy to view. With the wheel adjusted for me – all of the instruments were plainly visible. This is a problem in the Diablo Roadster as with the wheel adjusted to my liking, I cannot see the speedometer from 60 – 80 mph – an issue in ticket happy California. The cab-forward cockpit provided excellent visibility. We left the sound system off (although played it later and it was sumptuous) so that I could get the full effect of the car. I eased it out onto the side road and found the gear box to be tight and easy to shift while the clutch was much more user friendly than my Diablo. We accelerated onto Highway One and up to speed very quickly. The acceleration was certainly there but the sound was that of a V10. The hearty roar of the Diablo was missing and in its place a more placid, but still powerful sound from the V10. The car was very stable and easy to steer and control. We continued on up Highway One almost to the power plant then cut off on a side road I have driven before, where there was no traffic. John did not seem to mind that I ran the Gallardo through the gears and got up to about 140 mph before we encountered a 90 degree left turn. The braking system slowed the car easily, and we cornered through at something less that 100. It was probably my driving but I felt a little uneasy in the turn. I knew the full stability control system (ESP) was helping but it was probably that I was used to the all wheel drive of the Diablo Roadster where I can accelerate through the curve and the power is transferred to the front wheels. I knew I could not drive the Gallardo in the same manner as the roadster and am sure that if I had more time in the car I would feel more comfortable. I ran the car back up in speed and then double clutched down through the entire range of gears until we got back to Highway One. One last onramp to test the acceleration and then we were back to the starting point. John was extremely helpful in discussing a lot of the technical improvements that had been incorporated in the car and made the whole experience even more magnificent.
Once back at the starting point John took the time to document my honor as the first non-factory driver on the “PAVLOVIAN REFLEX” page of the “A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN BRAIN”.
His exact quote was:
To Mr. Bob Felton
1st Non Lamborghini Employee to drive the Gallardo in the USA
To sum up my driving experience, the car was beautiful to look at, sumptuous to sit in, easy to drive and had great performance. However, the full – mind blowing - acceleration of a Diablo along with its hearty V12 roar and its kick in the butt upper torque range was missing, but then the Gallardo is not meant to be a Diablo or a Murcielago and for the market it is addressing, it is already proving to be a winner.
Thank you again, Lamborghini, for providing the Lamborghini Club with this fabulous prize and thanks, Patti, for insisting that we buy the tickets.
Robert W. Felton
First non-Lamborghini driver of the Gallardo in the United States