As per the CEVA thread, I've just traded my 2005 Gallardo e-gear on a 2010 Valentino Balboni LP550-2, and I thought I'd share some initial impressions about the change.
Visually the LP series cars are far more agressive than the earlier Gallardos, but as I'd fitted an LP570 bumper and carbon wing to my 05 the external appearance isn't as much of a change as it could have been. At the back is obviously the biggest difference - the triangle configuration rear lights and quad exhausts are a much more modern appearance than on the 05.
The front however is very similar - aside from the shorter light cluster there's not too much obvious difference between the Balboni and my facelifted 05.
I do miss the big wing off the back of my old car, and am contemplating buying another one to fit to the Balboni sometime in the future.
The most obvious difference in the interior trim is the two-toned leather in the Balboni compared to the simple black-with-red-stiching of my old car. The roof is also covered in leather rather than suede / alcantara in the 05. Other than the potential for the white sections to be difficult to keep clean, I was a little disappointed to discover that the ash tray next to the handbrake and the cubby hole under the ignition key are both missing from the Balboni - in a car with already limited internal storage I've now got to find somewhere else for my garage and alarm remotes and eTag.
The Balboni also suffers from upside-down window switch syndrome - the buttons to operate the windows are flipped around from my old car so to put down the window you have to push up on the button. God knows why.
On the plus side the navigation system (which has the same interface) has an upgraded and noticeably higher resolution screen, and I discovered the car has the AMI iPod interface with a mounting point for the iPod in the glove box, and this seems to work far better than the twin SD card system in the old car.
Oh God. The noise.
The first time I turned the key on the Balboni was when I jumped in to reverse it out of the fully enclosed car carrier. The bark on startup and the high 'warming-up' idle were absolutely sublime with the acoustics inside the truck - instant smiles all round.
When driving you really notice the varying exhaust note - quieter at idle and gentle revs but so much sweeter and louder than the 05 when getting into the throttle above about 3000rpm. The 05 had a fixed exhaust which sounded a little meatier at very low revs but can't match the Balboni once you're on the move. Can't wait for my first trip to Sydney to run through the M5 tunnel.
The phrase 'chalk and cheese' is probably most appropriate here, though so far I've yet to go for a long highway / twisties drive to really test out the car so the initial comparisons are just from sub-100kph city driving.
Driving the 05 was an absolute handful at around-town speeds. The e-gear was clunky when slowing down, jerky when taking off, required shifting to neutral when coming to a stop to prolong both clutch life and driver sanity and just generally wasn't fun below 80kph.
The Balboni is completely different - the e-gear is smooth, responsive and generally behaves like an automated transmission built this century should behave. The deliberate 'harshness' in the gear changes is still there in Sport (haven't tried Corsa yet), but you aren't subjected to the same harshness when slowing for traffic lights or plodding through a school zone.