Going For Supper In a Supercar
By James Wong
Not more than a month ago, my friend took delivery of his spanking new Lamborghini LP560-4.
Shod with 20” wheels and a ground-hugging body, and blessed with a glistening Giallo Midas (a fancy name for yellow) paintwork, the car is any car lover’s wet dream, or anybody’s dream car for that matter. But having had some time with the car, doing the practical things that we usually use a car for, I am not so sure now whether supercars are a good idea for a long term proposition. Let me explain.
The first thing that concerned me was the low slung nature of the car. My friend picked me up so that we could go for supper, and when I opened the door I was afraid it would hit the kerb. In fact, if I had opened it unaware, it would most certainly have struck the kerb. Next thing was the difficulty in getting into the car. Not that I am bragging, but I am 20 years old and I should be fit enough to get myself into a car. But the Lamborghini? I had to use quite some imagination to sling my way inside the car (granted, owing to the small opening due to the nearby kerb), and I can forsee how other people many years my senior would be having a problem. Settled inside however, the seats were comfortable (for the first few minutes at least) and it was rather spacious. A gold star for the LP560-4.
I have had some experience with gearboxes like the E-Gear in the LP560-4, but nothing quite prepared me for the smoothness I encountered with it while it was driven on Auto mode. The transmission has improved throughout the years, and in its latest configuration it is almost as smooth as a torque converter automatic when made to shift by itself. That impressed me greatly; a supercar isn’t supposed to feel so easy to drive. But, shifting itself means the computer does all the work for you, and sometimes it can go wrong. One time, after turning into a slip road, the gearbox jerked violently (and I must say, the most violent jerks I have ever felt in any car) in first before it changed up to second. I had no idea why it happened, but it had shaken my confidence in the daily usability of the car somewhat. Despite that, the gearbox overall made me feel like someone could drive this to work and back everyday and not feel like he is about to break something in the car. Impressive stuff.
The suspension when set to the normal setting was also rather compliant. It actually felt much more comfortable than I would ever imagine. Modern suspension systems are now adjustable on the fly, so that means you can have the best of both worlds; namely, comfort and sportiness. You can make it stiffen up when you want to have some fun, or you can make it soft, for the ride back home after a long day. Again, in this aspect the car shone well in the daily driver stakes. The car is also surprisingly quiet; it is loud only when you really open the taps. On the freeway, it felt composed, the distant drone of the V10 a distant rumble at the back of the cabin.
We reached a deserted road which still had a lot of ongoing construction. As a result, a lot of residual gravel was left on the road, which dropped off from the construction vehicles. Immediately, one can hear the rock particles on the road hitting against the wheel arch. For some reason, sound insulation for Italian cars in wheel arches are always very poor, and usually you will get to hear everything. From water splashing to rocks scratching, you won’t miss it. Furthermore, since the car was sitting so low, the gravel probably hit the front lip and rear diffuser as well. It was so painful to drive the car to the end of the road, but turning back was a bad option as well, as that meant U-turning. And the car, with its huge turning radius, will need way more than a three point turn to complete a U-turn. In a normal car, the gravel nor the U-turn would be much of an issue.
After the harrowing experience, we found a place to park. We had to avoid multi-storey carparks because of the turning radius and also because of the ride height (it probably won’t clear the ramps). We also couldn’t do parallel parking, because it would be too difficult and too risky (my friend is actually a relatively new driver). So in the end, we had to park quite some distance from the supper place, and even the rear-view camera couldn’t prevent my friend from scrapping the rear diffuser on the kerb.
So that’s the drive for supper. And we haven’t even gone to more challenging scenarios – doing a take-away from McDonald’s, crawling in city traffic, clearing the toll booths, paying for the toll, clearing humps, and many more. I do feel sincerely that supercars of the modern age are definitely more user-friendly, more easy to drive daily, but they are still as impractical as cars can get. That’s why some people might still go for a normal car, but with supercar internals. I never understood cars like these and the people who buy them, until now. Cars like the Audi RS4, the Mercedes E63 AMG, the BMW M5, the Jaguar XFR. They are all normal saloon cars, but drive like anything but.
They are the real supercars for the times.
So the next time you dream of owning a Lamborghini, a Ferrari or even a Pagani, you can take some comfort in the fact that it’s not only ridiculously expensive, it’s also a car that you can’t drive all of the time, unless you purposely go where it can go. Before anyone says their part though, let me reiterate that I really do understand why people buy supercars. It’s not about how you can use it as a daily driver or how much fuel it consumes. In short, practicality is a moot point when you buy a car like that. You buy it for the emotion it makes you feel, for the passion it emanates. You are, in essence, not buying a car anymore… You are making an emotional purchase. And for all the brief moments where the car shines just when the road is perfect, and there are no scary kerbs, and there is no traffic, it is all worth it.
That’s what a true supercar is all about.
COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved