Ride The New Bull —

The “gallant one” from Lamborghini just got gallanter.

Revealed at the 2008 Geneva Auto Show, the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 charges even more fearlessly than its predecessor with a new 5.2L V10, which puts down 560 horsepower at 8000 rpm and 398 foot pounds of torque at 4250 rpm. The engine, with FSI direct injection, based on owner Audi AG’s potent RS6 V10, is not only slightly larger than the previous version but is mated to a new transmission and its four-wheel rear-biased drive system.

Lamborghini also says the LP560-4 is 44 pounds lighter than the former edition, which should reduce weight to a very respectable 3,300 pounds. Despite the larger engine, the reduction derives from lighter materials in the driveline. While the width (74.8 in) and height (45.9 in) and wheelbase (100.8 in) are the same as the 2008, the vehicle is two inches longer because of the new front and rear bumpers. As before, the new Gallardo was designed by Luc Donckerwolke, who won awards for design of the 2004 Gallardo and 2002 Murciélago.

“The new Gallardo is so special because this is the first major change since 2004,” says Javad Maghani, president of Lamborghini Scottsdale, 8053 E. Raintree Drive. He, Fred Iocco, sales consultant, and the agency staff can show you the Gallardo LP560-4 now, starting at $190,000. “It’s a fabulous vehicle. Stop in and experience it yourself.”

Since the Gallardo appeared in 2003 to compete with the Ferrari 360, Lamborghini has developed other models, with steadily advancing performance figures. These include the limited edition SE’s and Nera’s, with various upgrades to the aesthetics and mechanics of the car; the Spyder, a convertible model unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006; and the Superleggera, launched at the 2007 Geneva Auto Show, with carbon-fiber components and the performance-enhancing “E Gear” as standard equipment. This new Gallardo coupe supersedes the Superleggera, but the convertible will remain available.

The “LP” denotes “Longitudinale Posteriore,” indicating it’s mid mounted longitudinally. The big-brother Lamborghini, the “Murciélago LP640,” carries the same designation. The “4” denotes it as four-wheel-drive, and the “560” is the horsepower in metrics. As with all current Lamborghini’s, including the numbered Reventon, the Gallardo is taurine-inspired: Here, it celebrates the legendary breed of Spanish fighting bulls (“Gallardo” is “gallant”). Since its introduction in 2003 as the successor to the Jalpa, the Gallardo has become the most produced Bull yet, with more than 7,000 built in the assembly plant at Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy.

The performance numbers of the dual-overhead-cam powerplant are stompingly impressive: 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph. That’s up from 195 mph from last year’s edition. Generating this is the 90-degree, aluminum V-10, with a larger bore than last year and a compression ratio 12.5:1 instead of 11:0:1. If you’ve experienced that combustion range, block to block, you’ll appreciate why this engine improves over its already potent predecessor.

Transmission choices remain the same: a six-speed manual or a six-speed E-gear automated. The E-gear allows the driver to make shifts without actuating the clutch through a rotational selector — rather than paddles. Lamborghini says this allows for 40 percent quicker gear changes. Also new is the “Thrust Mode” which allows the computer to optimize shifting and launch you into acceleration heaven. You just engage this mode and step on the gas pedal.

“The increased horsepower and quick-shifting transmission improves the performance,” Javad says. “Most people, like myself, really like the performance most of all.”

Javad likes a lot more about this car. Although it’s not a complete restyling of the Gallardo, it’s enough so to set it apart from its older siblings. For one, he likes the new front and tail ends. In the front, the LP560-4 comes to a front — like the Reventon and the Murciélago. Javad says: “The refined front and rear bumper treatment looks spectacular.”

There are larger air intakes, too for better cooling, and new headlight units with daytime running lights. What’s more, the new hood improves crash-test results. The rear features new taillights and has a black aluminum mesh under these that works as an air outlet. From the rear diffuser, four chromed exhaust tips tell those who are trying to catch up with you that this is probably a hopeless challenge.

The new multi-link fully independent suspension has mounts, front and rear, that allow for easier adjustments, and the rear adds an additional toe link. The result is better handling and ride. The wheels are 8.5×19 fronts and 11×19 rears. Three wheels are available: The Apollo, a silver spoke design; the Cordelia, polished aluminum; and the glossy black or titanium Callisto with five split spokes.

Gas economy, although those who buy these cars are probably not that concerned, is 11/23, with a combined of 16, respectable for a vehicle of this magnitude. The cruising range for the 23.8 premium-only gallon tank is also very good at 404.6 miles. Apparently the new Gallardo is also “greener,” too, emitting 18 percent less carbon dioxide than that from the previous version.

Among the standard features are remote keyless power locks, leather seats, and an audio system with a CD player that reads MP3; heated driver and passenger door mirrors; intelligent driver/passenger front airbags; front side airbag; and four wheel ABS brakes; and a 36-month general, anti-corrosion and driver-assistance warranty. The Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 has great new gauges too, and new switches on the center console. New colors are also available, such as the gorgeous black matte. As with any Lamborghini, you can order options such as carbon ceramic brakes, DVD and GPS navigation aid, three-layer colors and an interior leather package. Javad’s staff can assist with these as well as other personalization features.

“Lamborghini cars are always spoken about in superlatives,” he says. “What makes them so special is how they find ways to redefine excellence — even perfection. This new Gallardo LP560-4 reaffirms this — with great panache and style.”

Lamborghini Scottsdale, www.motorsportsofscottsdale.com, 480.483.9300