Need for speed

The newest Lamborghini Gallardo is heaven on wheels

The fog was so thick, my aircraft leaned on it and refused to take off. After a two-hour delay, I was finally at the Madras Race Track to test the latest from the house of Lamborghini, the LP 560-4 Spyder. But first, I had to sign a Rs 5000 bond paper to absolve the organisers of any responsibility. Without further ado, I got into a white Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 Spyder and pressed the throttle.

The Italian driver next to me explained that the gears are attached to the steering wheel and not around my legs. Knowing the intricacies and his warning that some of the stretch is wet from the previous day’s rains, put the speed demon in me on hold. However, in the next round, I was ready and went from zero to 120 in a few seconds, with my eye on the needle. When it touched 130mph, the Italian pulled at my steering wheel towards him and negotiated a sharp curve. I had lost sight of the road and didn’t know that the vehicle was almost going off the road. The vehicle drifted a bit and my neck almost snapped. My fingers and my legs were quivering. It was shock and awe at the same time. The remainder of the route was navigated with minimal fuss on speed.

It took me time to cool my heels under the hot Chennai sun before my turn to try out the next car, a coupe. But this time, it was ‘hot laps’. Which means, the Italian driver is going to race around while I sit next to him and revel in his speed racing acumen. He went from zero to 60 in five seconds and was soon touching 160mph (it touches a maximum of 201mph or 324 kmph).

My heart leaped to my mouth by the time he turned the corner. I almost jumped up and sat down, thanks to the seatbelt. The driver asked if I was loving it. I nodded a breathless ‘yes’. But the journey was far from over. The next curve was blinding. He went at such a speed that my neck almost snapped when he negotiated the curve with one swift swerve and back again at full speed on a straight road ahead. By the end of the journey, I felt as relieved as the jet skiing I had done off the coast of Pattaya in Thailand. Out there, I had reached a top speed of 95kmph and never felt so good. This was close.

Do I want this Rs 2.2 crore beauty for myself? Not really. Even if I had the money. The Gallardo gave me the post-traumatic stress disorder after the briefest acquaintance and yet it didn’t quite fit that billing. The doors don’t open skywards, instead functioning much like a normal car. And there’s no spine-tingling howl like you see in other sports cars.

The upshot? If you want to race against time, give yourself a flying start. Buy a plane ticket instead. Just pray, there’s no fog.

Engine type: V10, DOHC 4 valves common-in crankshaft
Displacement: 5.2 litres; 5204cc (Coupe)
Power: 560bhp @ 8000rpm
Torque: 398 lb ft @ 6500rpm
Transmission: Permanent Four-wheel drive with viscous traction system
Suspension: (front and rear) Double wishbone, anti-roll bar, anti-dive and anti-squat
Tyres: Pirelli Pzero 235/35 ZR 19 (front) 295/30 ZR 19 (rear)
Top speed: 324kmph (201mph); 325kmph (Coupe)
Curb weight: 1,569 kg & 1,500 (coupe)
Emission: Euro 4
Fuel tank: 80 litres & 90 litres (coupe)
Acceleration: 0 to 100kmph: 4.0sec & 3.7 sec (coupe); 0-200kmph: 13.1 sec & 11.8 sec (coupe)
Price: Rs 2.20 crore onwards

(Published in The Sunday Guardian)