Driving the 610-hp Lamborghini Huracán, love at first sting
Driving the 610-hp Lamborghini Huracán, love at first sting
Ten years, 14,022 cars later, the Lamborghini Gallardo's time has run out. And its successor, the Huracán, arrives as Lamborghini’s key weapon in the escalating battle for supercar dominance. Its path to this point has been troubled, with some suggesting it looks too safe, too subdued. “Where’s the madness?” a famous British journalist on the verge of unemployment recently said.

While I drove the new Huracán through the sleepy mountain roads of southern Spain last week, with fellow motorists skirting sheer cliff faces in an attempt to capture that brief, glorious Instagram flick, it was clear to me that the madness was alive and well. The Huracán is good for more than just theatrics.

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This includes immense speed, thanks to 610 hp deriving from a 5.2-liter naturally-aspirated V-10. In a world of engines losing size and cylinders while adding turbochargers the size of Eric Cartman’s head, it’s refreshing to hear a ten-cylinder howl. Statisticians will notice a 58-hp gain over the Gallardo, while simpletons like myself determine the increased punch via the perceived neck strain – and the 3.2-second 0-62 mph time.

Ultimately surpassing 200 mph, the Huracán, named after a fighting bull from 1879, could be described as eye-meltingly fast, but its other attributes are what grab your attention most:

Like the first time you barrel into the sweeping turns five and six at the Ascari racetrack, balancing the supercar via both feet like a fighter pilot, sensing the car’s inherent grip and its fine balance. The all-wheel drive system equates to understeer, but not to the degree one might expect. During the bend, the torque does vary minutely between the front and rear axle, which can add some unpredictability to the mix. But the rear wheels are so planted you don’t care. You just attack the next turn harder, because you can, and because the car dares you to.

Lamborghinis of old, and their accompanying single-clutch gearbox, ripped your head off with every shift. It was brutal, and yet engineers claimed it increased driver engagement. Finally, the folks at Sant'Agata listened to the cries from chiropractor clinics, and granted the Huracán a new dual-clutch 7-speed transmission. While it might not match Porsche's PDK for speed, it's not far behind. And you can change gear while cornering without locking the rear wheels and reversing into a tire barrier. It still features a kick, only one that doesn't invite migraines. If there's one aspect of this car that stands tall among the various improvements, it's this gearbox.

At 3,134 lbs., the Huracán remains svelte for a machine that powers all four wheels – in part due to a new carbon/aluminum hybrid chassis. Adaptive suspension helps smooth out the ride on the street, which it does to great effect. This is a supercar you can drive for long distances, except the seats aren’t all that comfortable and you have barely enough luggage space to fit an average-sized shoe. But it boasts a McLaren-esque float to its slow-speed voyaging, and it doesn’t feel overly large from behind the wheel. (Just don't try and look out of the rear window. Arrow loops in medieval castles have better visibility.)

For brakes, carbon ceramics come as standard, which for a $237,500 supercar, you might say, “So they bloody well should.” But in a world of thieves and Porsche execs, that’s not often the case. And they work well, with plenty of bite arriving with minimal pressure. However if you press too hard, as one tends to do on a racetrack, some weird “safety” mode occasionally engages that locks the pedal and feels like you have no brakes at all. This occurred multiple times, to multiple journalists, and it was highly uncomfortable – and actually quite terrifying. I didn’t receive a clear explanation as to why this feature was one of “safety,” and why it’s there in the first place.

Same applies to the dynamic steering and its variable rack, offering light and easy maneuverability at slow speeds while adding weight when cornering faster. This can be a desirable feature in plenty of cars, but who in the right mind buys a supercar for mall parking-lot maneuverability? The system feels sensible enough on the streets, but on the track the phrase "rubber bands and PlayDoh" come to mind. Fortunately, this is an option – one I plead with you not to get, should you get Lotto lucky.

Enough with the few negatives. The Huracán was hands down one of the most fun cars I’ve driven this year – more enjoyable than the McLaren 650S (which I drove on the same Ascari track), although the 650S did feel more refined and together. Lamborghini says the Huracán is two seconds a lap faster than the top level Gallardo, and I believe it; when I was on track against a 700-hp Aventador, it made its big brother look as if its driver was juggling wet soap.

For our track day, we rode on Pirelli P Zero tires rather than the optional, stickier Corsas. Lamborghini wanted to emphasize the usability of the car (hence every vehicle being equipped with the sensation-sucking dynamic steering) and the Zeroes are softer for comfort on the streets. And so I wonder, how good would the Huracán feel on Corsas with regular steering? I’m told that ditching the adaptive dampers in favor of the passive options will result in a better track car too – although it’s just not worth it for the added comfort the system delivers on the public roads. And how often do buyers really head to the racetrack?

Say what you like about it lacking aggressive enough styling, but in the words of Lamborghini, “That’s what the Aventador is for.” The Huracán is the outright performer of the group. And when the day comes that a rear-wheel drive Superleggera version arrives to market (and it will), watch out. Because that might just be the car that will rock you like a you know what.

(Disclaimer: Lamborghini provided travel and meals for this first drive. They also gave us a pair of "Power Pants" for runners, but that's another story, for a much weirder day.)


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