APR 29th 2014

First drive: Lamborghini Huracan

Lamborghini LP610-4 gets the road and track test treatment

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A new Lamborghini isn’t something that happens very often, and that in itself is reason enough for the palms to get a bit clammy in anticipation. That we’re about to experience the Huracán at Spain’s technically challenging Ascari circuit (to be followed by a few hours of hoonery on the excellent roads surrounding Marbella) is simply the icing on the cake.

“Say Ooora-khaan for the full Italian effect”

But before we’re let loose in what will undoubtedly be Lamborghini’s most important model of the decade, there’s some stuff we need to get through at the technical briefing.

LP_610-4_TS_yellow016The Huracán (say Ooora-khaan for the full Italian effect) might share some basic engine architecture with its forebear the Gallardo, but that’s it. The rest is all-new and, as the dry ice billows around the car we’re being shown around, it’s apparent that this model means business. If you think it looks a bit nondescript from the photography you’ve so far seen, just wait until you’re stood next to one. Its razor sharp, wedge profile is perfectly proportioned, there’s no unnecessary addenda, no flab, no question: it’s a serious weapon.

And it’s a weapon that Lamborghini claims is entirely usable on an everyday basis. That’s not to say it’s dull, it’s just been engineered to provide maximum driving enjoyment to an even greater audience than ever before. Its maker has thrown everything it has at this car, including a hybrid chassis formed from aluminium and carbon fibre composite that gives it strength almost equal to that of a full carbon tub, without the hideous expense. It’s 10 per cent lighter and a full 50 per cent stiffer than the Gallardo. Its dry weight is just 1,422kg, which is important not only to the way it goes and handles because, by reducing weight in the car’s structure, it has allowed Lamborghini to at last address one of the Gallardo’s few problems – the Huracán now has a proper DSG transmission with seven speeds. The gearbox is heavier than the old robotised manual that blighted the Gallardo with a somewhat agricultural feel but, because the new car is lighter and stiffer, the weight trade-off is no longer an issue.

LP_610-4_TS_yellow008Elsewhere, there’s an entirely new cabin that envelops its occupants in new technology. A clean, horizontal dashboard incorporates hexagonal styling cues that hark back to Lamborghini’s past and there’s a 12.3-inch screen in place of traditional instruments, which you can tailor to show you the information you want, whether that’s your speed, revs or a map of where you’re driving to. It’s far less Audi in style and much more Italian but that Germanic build quality is there in spades. Yes, there are a few cheap-feeling plastics but overall this is a superb cabin execution.

“a blare of revs announces to the world that your Lamborghini is ready for business”

The really important bits are just inches behind your head and that masterpiece of a 5.2-litre, normally aspirated V10 has been breathed upon to produce 602bhp (610 in metric, hence the nomenclature) and 560Nm of twist, three quarters of which is on tap from 1,000rpm. It now has stop/start and a new fuel injection system, making it cleaner than before, too.

But enough of that – it’s time to fire it up and allow it to scream out its lungs on the twisting, undulating Ascari track. Just two weeks ago I was here testing the McLaren 650S, so it’s still fresh in the mind and an accurate comparison should be drawn between the two.

LP_610-4_TS_yellow013The Huracán’s doors open conventionally but one piece of drama has been lifted from the Aventador: the start switch is covered by a fighter plane-style flap, which you flip open to unleash the pent up fury of those ten cylinders. When you do so, a blare of revs announces to the world that your Lamborghini is ready for business, before settling down to a gorgeous mechanical chatter.

“occupants and bystanders alike grin like village idiots. It’s still a Lamborghini after all”

Immediately it’s more user friendly than any Lamborghini before it. With that superb gearbox seamlessly shifting without interrupting the power and torque delivery, all you have to do is stick it in auto or operate the shift paddles and hold on for dear life. Lap after lap after lap, my confidence to push on in this car grows in a way it never did in the McLaren. I select the Sport mode on the steering wheel’s selector (it’s now festooned with buttons, Ferrari-style, but much easier to use), which allows some extra slip from the rear boots, transforming the car’s behavior and making it an absolute riot on the ragged edge.

You’re not actually on the ragged edge, though, it just feels like it. The electronics and the new adaptive suspension keep everything on the safe side of exciting, which is good news for novice drivers and experienced hands alike. For absolute performance, there’s always the Corsa mode but, when Sport is this much fun, there’s little temptation to explore those extra reserves. Understeer is, as you’d expect from a four-wheel drive machine, its default characteristic but it’s not overly intrusive except when in the normal ‘Strada’ mode. You can, if you really try, get the Huracán out of shape, but it could end up in a rather expensive Lambo/Armco interface.

LP_610-4_TS_yellow010The afternoon’s drive is even more enlightening than the track sessions, revealing a depth of personality that’s begs to be delved into. The McLaren, with its two turbochargers, does feel more rapid, but there’s something indefinably exquisite about naturally aspirated propulsion and the linear torque delivery on offer here feels more exploitable, more usable, yet no less thrilling. And, when a series of lengthy tunnels homes into view, the inner teenager rears its head as the windows are powered down.

Still in Sport mode, the exhaust system blares its heavy metal soundtrack in inimitable style but now there’s extra sonic enjoyment. Lift off the throttle (not that you need to) as you shift gear and firecrackers explode – it’s entirely fake but has been engineered into this extraordinary supercar just for our enjoyment.

In every respect, this is a better car than the hugely popular Gallardo. It’s not as stupefyingly fast as the McLaren and ultimately isn’t quite as sharp as a Ferrari 458. But it’s more exotic than either to look at, and seems to exist for one thing only: to make occupants and bystanders alike grin like village idiots. It’s still a Lamborghini after all – and it probably just happens to be the best one ever built.

Step this way for more fab picture galleries of the latest Lamborghini:

Huracán gallery: exterior colours – orange/red/green/white/yellow

Huracán gallery: interior details in close-up and engine bay

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