Test Drive

2012-08 STY Cars Lake Bell H
Joe Pugliese

Writes Bell: "Driving the 2011 Audi Q7 TDI Quattro was a window into suburban domesticity. I knew what the first order of business was with this all-wheel-drive diesel SUV: a trip to Target, to buy the largest items I've needed but couldn't purchase due to the space restrictions of my Mini Cooper."

HOLLYWOOD CARS: An electric blue 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder is the epitome of discretion.

During my three days with the Gallardo, what I found most shocking is that Angelenos are completely unimpressed by this four-wheeled spaceship. The only definitive reaction it elicited was from other sports-car drivers who aggressively challenged me to race them. But I'm not a lunatic, so I was not tempted by said offers. I'll openly say this V-10 convertible was the most intimidating street car I've driven. The LP550 is a two-wheel-drive model, lacking the confidence-inspiring all-wheel-drive setups that help keep most other Lamborghinis from embedding into poles, ditches, embankments, etc. It can even make leaving a public parking garage a challenge. If Barely Legal was an automotive magazine, this 550-horsepower naughty number would grace the cover of numerous issues.

In any new relationship, you don't have great sex right away. The same theory applies here: Driving the Gallardo is like dating a guy who's emotionally unavailable. There are lots of buttons I don't know how to work, and it starts making me feel bad about myself -- inadequate even, as if I don't know how to drive. Part of our intimacy problems started with its six-speed e-gear transmission -- an automatic with paddle shifters, which I find unnecessary. It feels like a high-maintenance gimmick. Designed for F1 race cars for shifting efficiency while they're going 5 billion miles an hour, why would any avid street driver want to relinquish the romance of a stick shift for a quasi-manual vanity shift?

And any car that needs a button that raises the suspension from its regular position by 4 centimeters in order to not ruin the ride's steel and carbon-fiber body kit is a far cry from practical. Especially one that costs $254,000. So basically, you're eating a down payment on a house to feel stupid and get an ulcer. And the $2,100 Gas Guzzler Tax is included. To make matters worse, you don't even get to rev to downshift -- the electronic gearbox does it for you. The only benefit to this feature is that it falsely advertises your effortless ability to match RPMs. It makes you look good, which is the car's main mission. I mean, a valet guy at the Soho House leaned into me and whispered, "Rev high when you pull away." Maybe the blase eyes of Hollywood are too busy shrugging to notice, but I didn't feel like I needed the extra attention -- just pulling up, the Lambo makes a bloody scene! But obviously I tipped him 10 bucks and revved like I had a reality show in development.

At the end of the day, literally no one buys a Gallardo in the name of practicality. So I have to give credit where credit's due. Like any bad boy, you can hear the LP550 coming from miles away. The exhaust note reminds you why you don't care that it gets only 13 mpg in the city. With only 5 inches of ground clearance, its low center of gravity provides exhilaratingly tight handling. The Gallardo cuts corners like a high school senior during exam week. Just remember, this car could bring you bankruptcy, bad sex, sudden death and/or a one-way ticket to humiliation. A point of advice: If you are driving a Lamborghini, you don't want to be caught without cash when leaving a parking structure because I assure you, they're not gonna let you off, no matter how hard you cry. Trust me.