Lamborghini Gallardo

The Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Spyder at top and the LP 570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale, at bottom, are two of the latest variants on the Gallardo supercar. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times / October 19, 2012)

The cars: Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Spyder and Gallardo LP 570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale


The power: Both cars are powered by a 5.2-liter V-10 engine. The one in the Spyder makes 550 horsepower and routes it to the rear wheels only (hence the 550 and the 2), while the Stradale's engine makes 570 horsepower and routes it to all four wheels. Both cars have a six-speed automated manual transmission with paddle shifters.

The speed: 4.2 seconds for 0-60 mph for the Spyder; 3.4 seconds for the Super Trofeo Stradale

The photos: Gallardo LP 550-2 Spyder and LP 570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale 

The price: $253,985 for the Spyder; $286,595 for the Super Trofeo Stradale. Both prices include destination as well as carbon ceramic brakes, which were $15,600 on the Spyder and $16,450 on the Super Trofeo Stradale.

The details: Every day, it seems, Lamborghini whips out another variation of the mid-engined Gallardo and its potent V-10 powerplant. In addition to the two seen here, you have your base 560-4 and its Spyder variant; the 570-4 Superleggera and its convertible variant, the 570-4 Spyder Performante; and the 550-2 Valentino Balboni and the 570-4 Blancpain (both of which have been discontinued). By the time you're finish reading about these two here, Lambo will probably have announced the Gallardo LP-570 Donatella Versace Fettucini Viareggio edition (now with more cream!).

The Stradale (the red one) is essentially a street-legal version of the cars that run in Lamborghini's Blancpain Super Trofeo race series in Europe (rich dudes racing each other in similar Gallardos). Lamborghini figured a little additional exclusivity couldn't hurt, so the company is only making 150 of them.

Changes from your average Gallardo include the massive rear wing and the removable engine cover, both of which are made from carbon composite. Carbon is also used for the interior door panels and fixed-angle seat shells, while other weight-saving measures include lighter 19-inch alloy wheels. Thus, the Stradale version is 154 pounds lighter than a stock 560-4, coming in at 2,954 pounds, dry (without any fluids like gasoline, oil or coolants, which can add several hundred pounds). This low weight allows it to hit 60 miles an hour in 3.2 seconds and then top out at 199 mph.

Meanwhile the 550-2 Spyder (in blue) is a little more of a traditional offering, as much as a $253,985, bright blue, Italian convertible is traditional. This car sheds weight too, but via a more direct method of simply jettisoning the all-wheel-drive system found on most Gallardo's and instead using good old fashioned rear-wheel drive (with a limited-slip differential). This switch saves you 154 pounds. Lamborghini also tweaked this Gallardo's damper settings, stability control and aerodynamics to reflect the rear-wheel propulsion.

The drive: As you might expect, both of these Gallardos are a hoot to drive, and they each feel more lively and engaging than their stock brethren. But for different reasons.

The Super Trofeo Stradale adds to the base Gallardo's enjoyment via its noticeable drop in weight and straightforward and uncompromised racing orientation. Everything is stiff and immediate, from the ride quality (which might get tiresome during regular daily driving), to the steering (lightening quick with excellent feel of the road), to the chassis. The all-wheel-drive gives you plenty of grip and the car as a whole just feels like it has a happy eagerness and more confidence.

Meanwhile, the Spyder turns the Gallardo into a more natural-feeling supercar with its rear-wheel-drive setup. It's a little less neutral as it pulls through turns and a bit quicker with over-steer. You feel like you have more delicate control at your fingertips, and rather than pointing and plowing through the twists as one might in an all-wheel-drive version, you can guide the car through with the throttle and some smart steering. The risks are higher, but so are the rewards.

Both cars maintain a glorious trait of any Gallardo: the sound this 5.2-liter V-10 kicks out when pushed. It's a sharp, loud wail that's more than capable of waking up your neighbors. In Nevada. If the thrill of sheer speed isn't enough of an impetus to stomp this car's go pedal, the sound definitely is. But these cars are also riding on aging platforms, especially when viewed against competitors like Ferrari's 458 and McLaren's MP4-12C. Whether it's a worthy trade-off is up to you.

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