The Speed of Light

September, 2010 (Bloomberg Markets) -- Lamborghini’s new $240,000 Superleggera trades weight for velocity.

Congratulations! your membership in the recession has expired. Throw off that sad shade of Gray Austerity, which hardly becomes you. It’s time to abuse your bank account. What to buy?

You might consider a diamond-encrusted Victoria’s Secret bra. Or a Greenwich mansion with a dollar-sign-shaped swimming pool. Or how about a nice Lamborghini?

The latest toy off the line in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, is the LP 570-4 Superleggera, a top-of-the-line version of the Gallardo coupe that was released three years ago.

The base Gallardo--a V-10 that rockets to 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour in 3.6 seconds--costs more than $200,000. The­Superleggera, which means superlight in Italian, is $40,000 to $60,000 more and 154 pounds (70 kilograms) lighter. Light cars handle better and are quicker from a dead stop. The LP 570- 4 weighs less than 3,000 pounds, and its mid-mounted 562- horsepower V-10 engine will take you from 0 to 60 mph in about 3.3 seconds. Yes, some will pay $40,000 for three-tenths of a second.

I was allowed to drive the Superleggera only on the racetrack. I fired up the engine, which is positioned under glass behind the driver and sounds like a malevolent buzz saw. Soon I was tearing into tight corners, slithering onto the inside curbing and then going hard on the gas, allowing the car to slide to the opposite side of the track.

Handling was spirited and predictable. My only concern was that when I applied the brakes heavily at speeds of more than 100 mph, the back end had an unsettling wiggle.

Obviously, this is no daily driver. It’s a $240,000-plus purchase that you’ll use only once in a great while. Kind of like a diamond-encrusted bra.

Jason H. Harper writes about autos for Bloomberg News in New York.

#<535521.2245115.># -0- Aug/10/2010 19:06 GMT

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