The automotive industry has seen a massive shift this year. Two legendary supercar manufacturers have created two new amazing products that could change the way we think about the ultra-performance, super-expensive sports car and we will take them head to head in the ultimate competition.
In the left corner is the old workhorse, the Lamborghini Gallardo, but this isn’t the normal run of the mill version. This new model is the LP 570-4 Superleggera, a sort of midlife refresh for the venerable old performance car. Meanwhile, in the right corner, we have the new supercar from the legends of fast car manufacturing, the Ferrari 458 Italia. Unlike the Lamborghini, the Ferrari is all new, taking the place of the old 430.
One is an old veteran with a new outfit and some more power under the hood, while the other is an all-new machine from the Italian legends. This should be one great fight between two companies that have been competing for years and years.
Hit the jump to read on.
Let’s start with the all-new 458 Italia, the car that replaced one of the best supercars ever made, the 430. When it was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show it quickly became the talk of the planet. Those looks and that engine were simply intoxicating. The car has yet to go on sale in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped us from getting our hands on one.
Just what makes the new 458 Italia so appealing is as much about its future as its past. In the car’s stance and its design we can see elements of older Ferrari cars that once graced the showrooms of the Italian automaker. It’s easy to see Enzo design elements in the 458, especially in the rear section. Yet, most of the car was designed using futuristic machines, in order to keep the car as aerodynamic as possible. Even the front’s single opening was designed for aero purposes. With all these sweeping designs and the new flat underbody, the car is very light on its feet. There are even small winglets, which generate downforce, and as the speed rises, deform to reduce the section of the radiator inlets and drag.
It’s a bold statement, but we think that this is one of the best-looking Ferrari vehicles in a long while. The 430 was a decent looking car, but nothing compared to this new machine. The car looks very elegant and has an especially long wheelbase. The style of the Pininfarina-designed body clearly reflects that very interesting Ferrari FXX track car.
Under the hood is a piece of Ferrari excellence, with the largest power up over a previous model in Ferrari history. There is a 4.5-liter V8 that puts out 562 horsepower. Compare that to the 483 horsepower in the 430 and you see why this car is so special and so very fast.
To get all scientific, the power comes from the 4,499cc F163FB V8 that retains the fundamental architecture of the F430, including the flat-plane crankshaft. Yet, this new machine adds direct fuel injection that helps make the 12.5:1 compression ratio possible. Needless to say, Ferrari has truly excelled with this vehicle, as the 458 puts out 127 horsepower per liter without forced induction.
Power isn’t everything with the 458 though, as lightness is also a key element in the car’s performance. The Ferrari 458 Italia sits on an entirely new aluminum platform that is 20 percent more structurally rigid than the 430’s. The thickness of the hood, roof and door skins are just 1.0mm, dramatically more thin than the 430 concept.
Underneath the 458 is a double-wishbone suspension at the front and Ferrari’s own multilink arrangement at the rear, while a Delphi-developed magnetorheological damped technology controls the wheel movement.
The mundane task of changing gears is done in an all-new way in the Ferrari 458. Sadly, there is no manual gearbox because Ferrari doesn’t trust us to change gears quickly enough. It’s quite sad actually that we will never be able to see the old metal gate manual box in this Italia. Instead, Ferrari has gone nerdy, with the Getrag-built dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual, first introduced in the California. This new system is so fast that it’s a bit shocking at first, but wow, is it good!
Sitting inside the 458 is just like sitting in any other Ferrari, just with more modern touches. The instrument cluster features a large yellow rev counter that is flanked by a speedometer on the right and a computer layout on the left. In this fancy computer system there is a lap timer and an overall warm-up management function. There is even a clock face! There is a sense that this car can be a bit nerdy at times and that’s not something that we want from an all out, pedal-to-the-floor supercar.
All the extra levers and switches have been removed. In their place we now have buttons on the wheel, like most cars have for the radio. If you want to turn left, you press a little button with an arrow on it. It’s a bold step for Ferrari, but we really like it. It actually makes you feel like you’re driving a Ferrari Formula One car!
The Lamborghini is just a bit different than the scientific Ferrari, more steak and potatoes compared to the Ferrari’s beef bourguignon. It’s very flamboyant and a touch repulsive, with big wings, splashes of carbon fiber, black wheels, and a Reventon style chin. There are stripes down the side and quad matte-black exhausts that are the size of storm drains. Not to mention the screaming 562 horsepower monster that lives under the hood.
The car’s design is meant for lightness, hence the Superleggera name. There are front-air intakes, straked Venturi style rear brakes, all made from the finest carbon fiber. Even the sills and rear-view-mirror casings are made of the stuff. Engineers switched the side glass, the rear glass, and the engine cover to lightweight polycarbonate.
All that carbon fiber has helped the Gallardo tip the scales at just 2,954 pounds. That is 33 pounds lighter than a small Porsche Boxster and it helps the LP570-4 produce more horsepower per tonne than the Ferrari. The long battle of one-upsmanship has been won, this time by Lamborghini.
Years ago we used to laugh at Lamborghini and their space ship cars because they looked brilliant, yet drove so terribly bad. The Countach, Diablo, and so on and so forth, all looked brilliant, but drove like dump trucks. The steering was very heavy and you had to have the world’s strongest legs in order to push the clutch in. Now, Audi has taken the reigns and turned the Italian automaker into a real Ferrari threat.
Take the engine for example. The old massive V12 with space thrusters is gone for a conventional V10. Yet, those ten cylinders are producing 562 horsepower and a noise that is just sensational. Torque is around 398 pound feet, helping the car get to 60 miles per hour in just 3.4 seconds and to a top speed of 202 miles per hour. If there was ever a reason to travel to Germany to drive on that special highway, this car would surely be it.
Unlike Ferrari, Lamborghini still recognizes that people still love to shift manually, with a clutch and all that old fashioned nonsense. Though it may not seem like it, this is actually a big deal to us. We love the mechanical feel of manual gearboxes in these types of cars.
Amazingly, Lamborghini is doing us a favor, sort of like charity work. Buyers can chose the six-speed paddle shifted e-gear transmission at no extra charge if they don’t want the manual.
So, what the new Gallardo is all about becomes very clear. Despite the stop and stare looks, this car is serious business. The numbers are great and very impressive, but what this car is truly about is unprecedented performance on a modern road car. The level of focus is something we haven’t seen from the Gallardo range before.
The Ferrari was a car designed to be fast yet comfortable at the same time. More of a GT car than a thrash your brains out speed freak. The Lamboghini is meant for one thing and one thing only and chances are, people aren’t going to buy it because of that. You need to have guts to choose this over the Ferrari, but it sure is worth it.
So, that’s the present. What about the future? You can be sure that this is only the beginning for the Ferrari 458. The Italian company has a tendency to take a great car, which the Italia is, and make it a bit better, and if the 430 Scuderia is any indication, we are in for one hell of a car.
The Lamborghini, on the other hand, might be as good as it’s going to get. The Gallardo line has been around for some time now and we would imagine once the Jota officially replaces the Murcielago, the Gallardo might be next on the chopping block. Either way, we wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath for a new high performance Gallardo anytime soon.
Which one to buy? In a perfect world you would have both, but seeing as how that’s not the case, we have to choose one. The Ferrari would be the smart choice here. It is plenty fast and the interior is such a nice place to sit. It has all the creature comforts that one would expect from a car like this. You would have to be mad to turn away from it and buy the Lamborghini and that is why we wouldn’t.
The Gallardo LP570-4 doesn’t drive as well as we would have hoped. The all-wheel drive system helps you to be able to stick to any corner and any road surface, but there is a bit of understeer in tight corners. That V10 gives out some super power numbers, but the noise isn’t as good as the old Superleggera. We actually prefer the Balboni to this new car.
The Ferrari is just that much quicker in the corners and that much better looking. It seems at home on all surfaces and in any conditions. The interior is different but the modern look is something that we really like. If Lamborghini can create some sort of rear-wheel drive LP570 then that is what we would have, but as of now, it’s the Ferrari.
Ferrari 458 Italia
Love it - An all new design from the most legendary name in performance car manufacturing. It looks good, drives well, and it’s fun to sit in. It’s hard to find a flaw in the 458.
Leave it - We love Ferrari V8 motors, but maybe there is a little bit more power and little too much weight in the car, but that’s what performance versions are for. All in all, not much wrong with this car.
Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4
Love it - Audi owned Lamborghini has engineered a wonderful piece of automotive design. That V10 is one of the best and the way this thing grips the road is just incredible. As an all out driver’s car, this thing is hard to beat.
Leave it - All that carbon fiber is a bit much for us and the interior is a bit wacky. Plus, the Ferrari is more of a precision tool, where as this is a sledge hammer and some might turn away from that.
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