The home of a Lamborghini has never been the track. They've been weapons of power and dominance on the street, a statement that mesmerizes pedestrians and, often, frightens drivers. But the Lamborghini Huracan's mission is to intimidate others on street and track, but not intimidate the driver. Is it a success?
(Full Disclosure: Lamborghini invited me to Spain to drive the new Huracan at the Ascari Race Resort and the hills of southern Spain. It was pretty neat. I don't have much else to add. Oh, if I make a "Rock You Like A Huracan" joke in here, please come punch me in the head.)
The Gallardo, Lamborghini's first V10 "baby" model, was the best selling car the brand ever built with more than 14,000 sold. It was also never the best car in its class. It didn't have the precision of the Ferraris or the tech of the McLarens, but that never mattered. The Gallardo was a brutal car clothed in a gorgeous angular body that could cut you if you looked it at it wrong.
What was fantastic about the Gallardo was that it didn't apologize for what it was. The e-gear gearbox felt like it was actively trying to ruin the car if you had it in Corsa mode. There were still eccentricities like buttons that had unknown purposes and seats that rubbed against the bulkhead. And by the end of its run, it was the only car in its class to still offer a manual gearbox.
Tech, which is omnipresent in Ferraris and McLarens, was gloriously absent in the Gallardo. It felt old school, and it was just something that brewed the worst kind of lust inside me.
Lamborghini set a different mission for the Huracan that they call both "dusk and dawn" and instinctive technology. Dusk and dawn means they wanted it to perform on the road and the track, to make a driver look better than they are and be usable in traffic and fast on track. Instinctive technology, well that means a car once devoid of tech now has more acronyms than you know what to do with.
The manual gearbox option (which nobody chose on the Gallardo anyway) is gone, replaced with Lamborghini's first dual clutch gearbox, dubbed Lamborghini Doppia Frizione.
Controls like indicators, wipers, and high beams have been moved to the steering wheel. The drive selector is also on the wheel. Like Ferrari's Manettino, Lamborghini's selector is called Anima and let's you switch between three drive modes: Strada, Sport, and Corsa. It has a version of Audi's virtual cockpit. There's optional dynamic variable rate electro-mechanical steering and magnetic ride, which Lamborghini says makes the car easier around town. More on that in a minute.
It retains a 5.2 liter V10, but power is, as the eagle-eyed amongst you might have guessed, up to 610 horsepower and 413 pound feet of torque from the Gallardo's 550-to-570 horsepower range. There's an electronic differential to help the torque split between the front and rear. Up to 100 percent of power can go to the rear and up to 50 percent to the front.
Photos don't do the design of the Huracan justice. It is a stunning looking car. It's cleaner and more refined than the Gallardo. I don't find it as dramatic or breathtaking as its predecessor, which is a design that I still think about on lonely nights. The theme of the Hurcan design is hexagons. They are everywhere. The vents. The grilles. The greenhouse. The interior. The fuel filler cap. The only place you don't find hexagons are the wheels, mainly because that would compromise the ride quality. Lamborghini says that the hexagon theme is rooted in the Marzal concept from years and years ago. On many parts of the Huracan, the hexagons work. On other parts, it feels forced, like Lamborghini is trying to play into a stereotype they've set for themselves. Extreme for the sake of extreme. Egoista, anyone?
This is a successor to the Gallardo, but it's a very different sort of car. So what's it like to drive?
My first impression on Ascari's twisting 26-turn track isn't all that positive. The steering is weird, always too light and a bit too quick at times. Under very heavy braking when ABS kicks in, the rear end of the car is shifting around a lot. It's wiggling like mad. And sometimes the pedal is long, other times it becomes hard and short. It's disconcerting. In Strada or Sport, the dual clutch transmission shifts up for you no matter what you do.
There is no way to be fully manual unless you go to Corsa. There is a software issue with the tach right now, in that it doesn't accurately read redline, so you hit the limiter a lot. They are working on fixing the software.
Its standard character is biased towards understeer on the track. Long sweepers or an early jump on the power results in the front end washing wide, which is thanks to the all-wheel drive not sending power immediately to the back. I was told the electronics are faster and transfer power quicker in the Huracan, but it still seems rather reactionary. After our first runs, I chatted to a friend that was also testing the car. Unlike me, he hated the Gallardo. Like me, he wasn't sold on the Huracan.
So I went back out, this time hoping that Lambo magic would be there. It is. When it starts to push, an adjustment of the throttle brings the tail around and makes the car more neutral. A more aggressive lift will really bring the tail around, and it makes the Huracan feel alive and visceral. It became more and more fun, more and more neutral, more and more willing to play with you the more I pushed it. The gearbox is also fantastic, it doesn't upset the car at all if you shift midcorner, it just stays planted and gets on with the program. Another friend was left foot braking while he was on throttle to set the front end and negate the understeer, and it ends up that he didn't have the complaints I had. But it's a road car, should you really need to left foot brake to get the best out of it?
To do a few slides, I entered a corner real slow, cracked the wheel hard, and gave it all the beans. You'll be greeted by a sweet controllable slide, even in Corsa mode. But get on the power too early and you'll be greeted by a Lamborghini that now thinks it's a plow. The steering, while still too light for my tastes, ended up being communicative and accurate. I'd opt against the variable rack since I just want one ratio. I understand that makes it easier around town, but I don't want it to be easier at the expense of feel and accuracy. Tell me what I want, don't change it while I'm driving. Maybe some young whippersnappers like it, but not an old codger like me.
I also found that it overheats.
I had five or six runs on track. In those runs, the Huracan entered a limp mode that restricted the engine to 6,000 RPM and higher gears three times in three different cars. I also wasn't the only person to get overheats, with a number of other drivers there entering limp mode as well.
We think it was a combination of the cars not getting enough cooling time between runs and some buildup of marbles in the grille. When we discussed it at dinner, they said they did a lot of warm weather running at 50 degrees celsius without issue, so I don't think of this as an inherent issue and more the day on track.
On the road, it is more comfortable thanks to magnetic ride, but you still can't see a thing out of it. The rear view is, honestly, a joke. There might as well just be a painting of a street behind you, since you don't see anything anyway. It's tractable and easy when you need it to be on the road, fast and brutal at other times. And it still gets people giving you the thumbs up, taking photos, smiling. And it still sounds incredible. The double clutch box also makes it easier around town than the brutality of e-gear.
Technically, the Huracan competes with the McLaren 650S, Porsche 911 Turbo S, and the Ferrari 458. But these cars are all so much different than each other. The McLaren is a very serious car. It's a car that doesn't know the sound of laughter. The Ferrari has technology and elegance, a Prada running shoe. The 911 is a practical design that happens to be viciously fast, more tool than element of passion. The Huracan is an aural and ocular experience for those inside and outside.
The one thing that all four of these cars have in common is that they are trackable, but basically none percent of the buyers of any of these models will be tracking them. The Huracan is fantastic looking and still has that V10 thrum that made the Gallardo unmistakable as it drove by.
I love the Gallardo. It has always been one of my favorite cars from any and every quantifiable aspect. I love looking at it. I love hearing it. I love driving it. I even love what's wrong with it. The Huracan isn't as much of a wild child as the Gallardo, it feels like an EXTREME TO THE MAX Audi R8. That's not an insult, since the Audi R8 is a brilliant car.
But the more I think about the Huracan, the more I realize just how much of an impression it made on me. It has all the elements I want in a Lamborghini. Amazing styling, shocking engine note, hopelessly impractical (the frunk will barely fit a backpack), hilarious fun on track, and some craziness that could only work on a Lambo, like the nutty brakes, the overheating, and the inability to see anything behind you.
It just works, it's the wild essence of a Lamborghini packaged within a new, broader philosophy. I dig it.
A thing I like to do is compare cars to songs. The Gallardo was a bit like Crazy Train to me, but the Huracan? Well, that Rocked Me Like A Huracan.