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Is the Lamborghini Gallardo Just a Less-Reliable V10 Audi R8?

Some supercars, even Ferraris, can be reliable with a little care. The Lamborghini Gallardo, though, isn’t usually included in such a list. That’s despite the fact that it shares a platform and powertrain with the first-gen Audi R8. Which admittedly, isn’t necessarily that good of a daily driver. But does that mean the Lamborghini Gallardo is just a more-problematic R8?

Lamborghini Gallardo vs. Audi R8: specs and features

White 2008 Audi R8 in a white parking garage
2008 Audi R8 | Audi

It’s actually more accurate to say the Audi R8 shares parts with the Lamborghini Gallardo. The Gallardo debuted for the 2004 model year, and received a facelift in 2009, PistonHeads reports. The R8, meanwhile, debuted in 2006.

White 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 on a mountain road overlooking a bright-lit city at night
2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 | Lamborghini

However, the Audi originally debuted with a 420-hp 4.2-liter V8, Jalopnik reports. The Lamborghini Gallardo, meanwhile, came exclusively V10s, first a 493-hp 5.0-liter, then a 552-hp 5.2-liter in 2008. The Audi R8 would receive a 525-hp version of the 5.2-liter V10 for the 2010 model year, Car and Driver reports.

Interior shot of the 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni, showing white-striped black leather seats, white center console, and gated manual shifter
2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni interior | Lamborghini

Both cars came standard with all-wheel drive, and both could be fitted with 6-speed gated manuals. The 6-speed single-clutch automated manual, though, did at least add launch control. The Lamborghini Gallardo, though, offered the LP550-2 trim. This cut 10 hp from the engine, Car and Driver reports. However, it weighed about 100 lbs less than the standard L560-4, because it was RWD, not AWD.

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The first-gen Audi R8, meanwhile, was never offered in RWD form. But by 2013, it did have a newer 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, Car and Driver reports. And Motor Trend reports it is significantly smoother than the old 6-speed single-clutch.

Because of its relatively long production run, though, the Lamborghini Gallardo was available in quite a few other special trims. There were 2 Superleggera trims, which added horsepower and cut weight with the help of carbon fiber. Also, the LP550-2 Valentino Balboni made to honor Lamborghini’s beloved test driver.

What’s the Lamborghini Gallardo like to drive?

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Even the earlier Lamborghini Gallardos, Car and Driver reports, came with adaptive dampers and a limited-slip rear differential. The suspension was revised for the 2008 and later models, on top of the supercar being lighter and more powerful.

Even though the Audi R8 shares many components with the Gallardo, the two aren’t exactly the same car, PistonHeads forum users report. The R8, Exotic Car Hacks reports, is fairly comfortable, and arguably subdued. The Gallardo, meanwhile, especially in convertible Spyder form, is noticeably more visceral, Jalopnik reports.

With the single-clutch, Car and Driver reports the LP560-4 can go 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. The manual LP550-2, meanwhile, is only slightly behind, at 3.6 seconds. In either form, though, the Lambo accelerates more explosively than the R8, PistonHeads reports.

But even in RWD form, the traction control means you’re never really in danger of losing it. It helps that the steering is very direct, with excellent feedback but never overly heavy. And though the Porsche 911 rides better, Car and Driver found the ride is simply firm, not overly harsh.

Visibility is better than you might expect, though the R8’s rear visibility is better. Thankfully, Lamborghini did offer the Gallardo with a back-up camera. The post-facelift models could also be fitted with an optional front-end lift system, to clear speed bumps and low driveways.

The interior isn’t particularly spacious, Car Magazine reports. And the electronics, including the optional navigation, do come from some lower-priced Audis. But the leather and metal trim pieces do feel high-quality, and the seats are surprisingly comfortable, Bring a Trailer reports. Though, as with the R8, there’s fairly minimal storage space.

Reliability and common issues

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To be sure, neither the Audi R8 nor the Lamborghini Gallardo is completely problem-free. Most of these issues center around the single-clutch automated manual, which is prone to clutch damage and other parts failures. Not to mention its inherently jerky nature, Exotic Car Hacks reports.

The biggest problems with the V10 R8, though, besides the usual supercar parts costs, are leaky magnetic shocks and A/C failure, R8Talk forum users report. In fact, the V10 is arguably more reliable than the V8, AudiWorld forum users claim, due to a decreased risk of carbon build-up.

View of the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4's V10 engine
2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 V10 engine | Lamborghini

The Lamborghini Gallardo, though, has its own share of problems on top of that. Early 5.0-liter cars, Autocar reports, are known to suffer oil pump issues. It’s also fairly easy to overfill the oil, Lamborghini-talk forum users report, which causes exhaust smoke. In addition, PistonHeads forum users report 2004 and 2005 models suffer clutch failure with both the manual and automatic transmission. Plus, the Gallardo is known to go through brake pads and rotors somewhat quickly, especially front ones.

But there’s at least one problem, sticking throttle bodies, that’s easy to fix. Just drive the car more. Modern Lamborghinis that are driven regularly are actually fairly reliable. Car and Driver reports one British Murcielago owner has put 250,000 miles on his car. And consider that the Gallardo was made to be more approachable than that.

True, daily-driving a Lamborghini Gallardo wouldn’t necessarily be a comfortable experience. And even if nothing breaks, some of the parts can be expensive. But it would definitely be a fun ride.

Pricing and availability

If you are considering a Lamborghini Gallardo, it’s best to avoid the early model years. The 2009 and later models’ engines are more reliable, and they have a few more features. Including that nose-lift system.

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The Gallardo tends to be slightly more expensive than the Audi R8. The latter can be found for $60,000-$80,000 on BaT. The Lambo, though, costs closer to $80,000-$100,000. However, in this case, it’s actually better to buy a higher-mileage example with a good service record. Pending a pre-purchase inspection, it likely means the car was driven regularly, and won’t likely require expensive engine service.

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