First introduced in 2004, the Gallardo is the second entry into the "low-end" Italian Supercar genre for Lamborghini. With a storied history with the top of the line progression from the Countach to Diablo to Murciélago, the Gallardo is the less powerful, less expensive little brother to this line and the Murciélago, specifically. The previous low-end Lamborghini was produced from 1981-1988 and was known as the Lamborghini Jalpa. Not having a lower tiered model for close to six years, Lamborghini was anxious to get back with a second active model and also put into place their newly designed engine.
Unlike the bigger line, the Gallardo uses a smaller V10 engine, with 5.0 liters of displacement. Some may scoff at the smaller engine size, but it still manages to get a high level of performance. Although the bigger Lamborghinis can all surpass 200 mph on the top end, the Gallardo line is only slighter slow, topping out just under 200 mph. Many reviews laud the Gallardo in terms of its handling and management, especially compared to the V12-based Murciélago. With regular street driving and handling, most experts will take the Gallardo, over the more powerful Murciélago, every time. The biggest difference from a style perspective is the lack of the famous Lamborghini lifted doors. The doors on the Gallardo are much more traditional and open back to front instead of bottom to top. That aside this car still has all the Italian sports sexiness that we have come to expect from Lamborghini.
Besides the base model there are several variations on the Lamborghini Gallardo. There is the convertible Gallardo Spider that has a soft-top and sports a very nice 520 horsepower output. Lamborghini technically lists the Spyder as its own car and not a derivative of the base Gallardo model; I think we can safely consider them as part of the same family. In 2005 the SE edition was released. Another special edition, labeled the Nera was made, as well, but only 185 of the cars were ever built.
With 3000 units produced in its first two years, it is the fastest produced Lamborghini in the company's history, surpassing the early output of the Diablo. While it is not at the top of the Italian sports car line, I do not think you will find many people turning their nose up at you when you drive by in your $165,000 Lamborghini Gallardo. So if you have the means, I recommend you get the Lamborghini Murciélago for the weekend driving, and get the Lamborghini Gallardo for driving to and from work and picking up the kids at school. We can all dream, can't we?