Lamborghini's Superleggera is superleggy

Lamborghini launches the 2011 Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera at the 2010 Geneva auto show.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera
The Superleggera is Lamborghini's latest lightweight super car. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

GENEVA--While automakers unveiled hybrids and electric cars at the 2010 Geneva auto show, a dangerous-looking green wedge bearing a bull logo garnered a constant ring of photographers. Hybrid automakers should take note that a hot piece of hardware like the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera still excites passion and design, accordingly.

Lamborghini makes a green play with the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, citing a 20.5 percent reduction in CO2 emissions over the previous model. But the Superleggera doesn't sacrifice any power--Lamborghini achieves this gain, along with better performance, through old-fashioned weight stripping. The Superleggera weighs only 2,954 pounds, 154 pounds less than the Gallardo LP 560-4 on which it is based.

Most of the Superleggera's weight saving was achieved through the use of carbon fiber in body panels, seat shells, and some components. Likewise, the side windows and transparent engine cover are made of polycarbonate. Lamborghini even chose Alcantara seat covers over leather for weight reduction.

Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera
Seat covers and interior surfaces use Alcantara rather than leather to save weight. Lamborghini

The 570 number in the Superleggera's model name stands for its horsepower, a phenomenal number produced by its 5.2-liter direct injection V-10 engine. Along with its low weight and 393 pound-feet of torque, the Superleggera hits 62 mph in 3.4 seconds, with 124 mph coming in 6.8 seconds. Lamborghini brags about the car's 16 mpg, but that is 2 mpg better than the LP 560-4.

A six-speed-sequential gearbox, called e-gear by Lamborghini, comes standard with the Superleggera. The driver can choose to shift manually or select one of two automatic modes--the most exciting being Thrust mode, a sort of permanent launch control that lets the engine run up to 5,000rpm before take-off--all the while managing wheel slip. An all-wheel-drive system, defaulting to 30 percent torque to the front and 70 percent to the rear, helps the Superleggera keep grip in the corners.

Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera
The air scoops take their design from the Reventon. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The front of the Superleggera shows the design work pioneered in the Reventon, three big, angular air scoops just below the hood. That style is carried out at the rear of the car, too, with four exhaust tips above an angular air diffuser.

For everyday driving, the Superleggera can be had with a device that lifts the front end, helping it clear speed bumps and the like. A rearview camera makes up for limited rear visibility, and a navigation system can also be optioned into the cabin.

Green may only be skin deep with the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, but this car is more likely to adorn posters and calendars than a Prius.