Eight years on, the Lamborghini Gallardo still turns heads with its straight lines and hard edges
Sharp as ever

LOOKING at the sharp lines and plane surfaces of the Lamborghini Gallardo, it is difficult to imagine that it has been eight years since its debut - this two-seater coupe still looks as fresh as the day it was unveiled. The first Gallardo was introduced in 2003, in an automotive design era that was then dominated by soft curves. By contrast, the Gallardo was strikingly futuristic with its straight lines and hard edges.

Over the years, the baby Lambo's styling has remained sharp even as the mid-engined model was refreshed with a new engine and build quality improvements. Three years ago, its original 5.0-litre V10 engine made way for a more powerful 5.2-litre V10 unit. In its current iteration, the Gallardo LP 560-4 has 560hp channelled to all four wheels. There are other variants too, such as a Spyder roadster and a rear-wheel-driven LP 550-2 coupe with 550hp.

The LP560-4 is the car used in the Lamborghini Winter Academy, held for the first time in China last month. Previously, this ice driving programme was only run in Europe.

On a frozen lake in Inner Mongolia, the candy-coloured Gallardos look like a sprinkling of M&Ms on soft vanilla ice-cream until the ignition key is turned and the V10 roars to life. Yet, the LP560-4 is relatively quiet for a Lamborghini. After the raucous start, it idles quietly. Only above 3,000 rpm will you hear the magnificent V10 growling and the exhaust rumbling. Then again, on the flat, vast expanse of the ice-covered landscape, any noise is easily diffused.

The LP 560-4 rolls on 19-inch Pirelli PZero winter tyres and apart from the increased power and torque, it is notable for feeling lighter and more agile than the previous 5.0-litre Gallardo. The robotised manual e-gear transmission has also sharpened, with faster shifts that feel more crisp. Pull the long thin column-mounted shift paddle on the left and the gears change down almost instantaneously.

But it is not only the gearbox that has improved; so has the engine response. Where once the Gallardo would have hesitated ever so slightly when attempting to power out of a corner, now it doesn't. That flat spot has been banished.Inside, the interior has also undergone significant improvements.

Unlike some supercars which can look and feel a bit too raw, the Lamborghini is luxuriously sporty. The cabin exudes understated refinement with rather good build quality.

About a dozen participants will get to use six to eight Gallardos at each Winter Academy, which Lamborghini plans to offer in Hailar once a year in late March. There will be a total of four one-day sessions with a fee of 35,000 yuan (S$6,740) per participant.

Apart from lunch and dinner, participants are also treated to a lavish five-minute-long fireworks display. This colourful climax enjoyed against a spectacular backdrop has to be the perfect end to a day of explosive power on the ice.