||All rights reserved.
the long-running Gallardo dynasty we see a successor styled and
engineered in much the same format...
The idea of small
Lamborghini is not new. In the late 1960s, Ferruccio Lamborghini needed
a V8-powered car to supplement his V12 flagship models (Miura and
Espada) and provide the financial stability it desperately needed. It
was supposed to be cheaper and produced in larger quantity, i.e. 1000
units a year. The result was a mid-engined 2-plus-2-seater called Urraco launched in the early '70s.
Somehow, the car sold fewer than 800 copies because of all sorts of
problems – build quality, reliability, oil crisis and the financial
problem of Lamborghini itself. Sant'Agata built another 2 follow-ups in
the next decade, Silhouette and Jalpa,
but their market reception was no better. After 1988, it no longer
built small Lambos.
Things changed a lot when Audi acquired Lamborghini in 1998. The first
thing Audi wanted to do was to relaunch a small Lambo, one that would
beat Ferrari 360 Modena in performance as well as day-to-day usability,
and turn Sant’Agata to a profitable operation. It did. Thanks to strong
financial and engineering backing, not to mention the quality control
know-how and quality components supplied by its mother company, the Gallardo was incredibly well made for
something rolled off Sant'Agata. Well, not that the whole production
was carried out at Sant'Agata. Its aluminum spaceframe chassis was
actually built in Neckarsulm of Germany, and its V10 engine
also designed and built by Audi. This made business sense as the
Gallardo shared platform with Audi R8. Through unique styling and
tuning, Lamborghini managed to keep the raw edges it needed. In the 10
years from 2003, it sold 14,022 Gallardos, outselling Murcielago by 3.5
to 1 and accounting for half the accumulated production of Lamborghini
in its 50-year history. Ironically, it was also the first ever
wedge shape is set by Marcello Gandini's very first Countach – that's
more than 40 years ago, incredibly.
When the formula is successful, it is difficult to find the motivation
to try something new. Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo might be different,
but the German are not. That’s why after the long-running Gallardo
dynasty we see a successor styled and engineered in much the same
format. Yes, the new Huracan looks every bit like a Lamborghini. Its
wedge shape is set by Marcello Gandini's very first Countach – that's
more than 40 years ago, incredibly. However, perhaps we have got used
to that shape, or perhaps its sharp edges have been largely rounded
off, it no longer delivers that visual impact as I first saw the
Countach in person. I doubt if Mr. Lamborghini or Gandini would have
agreed with it. Lamborghini was supposed to be radical and
revolutionary. Now under the administration of Audi it has become
conservative, keeping the old shape and format unchanged and seeking
only small evolutions each generation. It sounds more Porsche than
Italian. I am puzzled…
Having said that, the Huracan is still an exotic design. It differs
from the Gallardo and Aventador in detailed features and surface
treatment. Its signature is the large piece of flat surface resting at
the top edge of the doors. It extends backwards, slips under the
blade-style C-pillar and disappears inside the engine intake. This
arrangement is simple and clever, even though I suspect it copied the
idea of the 2010 Lotus Esprit concept designed by Donato Coco. The rest
car is slightly curvier and crisper than Gallardo. The slimmer
headlights and taillights are full LEDs. At the back, the engine lid is
covered with retro-style louvers, though I prefer the optional glass
window which puts the V10 engine in good display. Overall speaking, the
car looks beautiful, if not very original or innovative.
was supposed to be radical and revolutionary. Now under the
administration of Audi it has become conservative...
The Huracan has grown a bit to give more interior space. Its overall
length and width have been extended by 114 mm and 24 mm respectively,
while the wheelbase is stretched by 60 mm. However, the roof still
stands at 1165 mm above ground, keeping the Lamborghini as the lowest
car in its class. Kerb weight has increased by 32 kg to 1532 kg, so it
continues to be heavier than Ferrari 458 and McLaren 650S. Considering
it has 4-wheel-drive system, that is acceptable I would say.
As before, you get into the cockpit through normal hinged doors,
something still separate it from the flagship V12 model. Entry is not
as difficult as the latter because its aluminum spaceframe chassis has
less prominent door sills. Once inside, you would find the space it
offers is pretty good – certainly more generous than Gallardo –
although outward visibility is still poor due to the fast-angle and
far-forward windscreen, the high waist lines and near non-existent rear
view. No complaints for the supportive bucket seats though.
new interior design has really lifted the game...
While the interior design of Gallardo was boring, the Huracan has
really lifted the game. Inspired by the 1967 Marzal concept (the
forerunner of Espada), it employs
hexagonal elements as the main theme – the 4 air vents, instrument pod,
steering wheel, some buttons and decoration patterns on the glovebox.
Whether you like that depends on taste, but everybody should love the
12.3-inch reconfigurable TFT instrument for its clarity and
functionality, as is the effort to put many buttons on the steering
wheel for the ease of access. One of them is the new “ANIMA” (means
“soul” in Italian) switch, which mirrors Ferrari’s Manettino switch and
allows you to choose among Strada (street), Sport and Corsa (race)
modes, altering throttle response, exhaust noise, gearshift, steering,
damping, 4WD and traction control. Sadly, you can’t have different
settings for individual systems, say, Corsa gearshift and Strada
damping, unlike Ferrari or McLaren, so not always you can find the best
Fire the engine and you will hear a familiar sound. That is because the
5.2-liter V10 is kept. However, thanks to a few modifications such as
new intake and exhaust, slightly higher compression (12.7:1 instead of
12.5:1), the adoption of dual-mode injection and automatic stop-start,
engine finds another 50 ponies and 15 pound-foot of torque, bringing
the total to 610 hp at 8250 rpm and 413 lbft at 6500 rpm. Meanwhile,
fuel consumption is reduced by 16 percent and CO2
emission drops from 351 to 290 g/km. Although it isn’t as free-revving
as Ferrari’s 4.5-liter V8 or as punchy as McLaren’s 3.8 twin-turbo V8,
the Lamborghini V10 still impresses with a linear power delivery and
enthusiasm for rev.
5000 rpm is just the beginning of its fun zone, which extends all the
way to 8250 rpm. The hard-edged exhaust note and pops and crackles on
overrun support this thrilling experience.
the engine and you will hear a familiar sound.
Although its quoted top speed stays at 202 mph, the Huracan feels
significantly faster than its predecessor, if not as fast as McLaren
650S. This is also evident in its 0-60 mph, which drops by half a
second to merely 3.1 seconds. Most of the improvement actually comes
from the R8-sourced 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox, which finally replaces
the notorious E-gear together with manual gearbox. It shifts quickly
yet smoothly thus is no longer the Achilles’ heel of Lamborghini. Big
brother Aventador must be jealous.
Of course, the big Lambo still enjoys the exclusive use of carbon-fiber
monocoque chassis. However, the cheaper Lambo is no ordinary either.
Its aluminum spaceframe construction is now strengthened with a
transmission tunnel and rear bulkhead made of carbon-fiber. That makes
it 50 percent stiffer torsionally and 10 percent lighter than the
full-aluminum chassis of Gallardo (take note, Ferrari). As before, the
chassis is assembled at Neckarsulm (where the next generation R8 will
be built alongside) and then shipped to Sant'Agata for final assembly.
chassis reinforced by carbon-fiber transmission tunnel and rear
Apart from chassis, the compulsory 4WD system is also improved.
Previously, Gallardo employed a passive viscous-coupling to engage the
front wheels only when the rear wheels started sliding. On the Huracan,
been upgraded to an electronic-controlled system using Haldex
multi-plate clutch to engage the front axle, just like Aventador. This
allows its normal torque split
to be set at 30:70, and vary between 50:50 and 0:100 when necessary,
thus greatly enhances its handling. Another significant upgrade is the
introduction of magnetorheological adaptive dampers (like Ferrari),
which should improve its ride quality a lot. Other advances include an
variable-ratio electrical power steering, standard ceramic brakes and
aforementioned ANIMA control system.
On the road, the seamless gearshifts and supple ride – at least in
Strada mode – bring a refinement you can't imagine on Gallardo. The new
steering is not only lighter but also has kickbacks eliminated. Now the
small Lambo is truly comfortable to be driven every day on normal
As expected, switch to Sport mode sharpens the powertrain response,
tightens the suspension, weighs up the steering and intensifies the
exhaust note. It still isn't as sharp as Ferrari 458 though. The
Ferrari's ultra-fast and precise steering, even faster gearshifts,
angrier barks and perfectly calibrated stability control are just too
much for Huracan to match. The Lambo feels not only heavier but also
understeers more when it approaches corner. Strangely, switch to Corsa
mode actually transfers more torque to the front wheels and intensifies
the understeer. At no time it feels as sporty as the Ferrari as well as
more understeer and a heavier feel, Huracan is not as sharp as Ferrari
Another downside is the active steering. In principle it works the same
way as the active steering we criticized so much on the BMW 5-Series
E60 some 11 years ago, i.e. it varies the steering ratio not only
according to speed and steering angle but also some other factors. When
it senses the car understeers, it tightens the steering ratio to
compensate. Vice versa for oversteer. Unfortunately, it is probably too
clever for the driver to predict its behaviour, thus it is difficult to
dial in the necessary lock to get your desired response. Therefore, it
is better to skip this option and stick with the standard steering rack.
On the positive side, the Huracan is undoubtedly less edgy to drive
fast than its Ferrari and McLaren rivals. Its safe understeer and the
extra traction and grip offered by its electronic 4WD system give it a
more secured driving manner. However, if you want to go cross country
or to exploit hundreds of miles on unfamiliar country roads, Porsche
911 Turbo S or some front-engined GTs are better options. To most
people who could afford a supercar like this, they are likely to put
driving thrills on top priority. The Huracan is definitely better than
Gallardo in this respect, but it still fails to match the mighty
Ferrari and McLaren.
|All rights reserved.
| Huracan LP580-2
horsepower less and no 4WD, but more fun compensates.
6 years ago Gallardo
LP550-2 Valentino Balboni proved that less could be more – by
4-wheel-drive system, the car achieved sharper and more interactive
handling than the standard Gallardo. Thanks to its unexpected
popularity, now the 2-wheel-drive derivative becomes part of the
permanent lineup of Huracan.
As implied by its name, Huracan LP580-2 has its V10 detuned to 580
horsepower, or 30 hp less than the 4WD version. Lamborghini said that
is necessary to avoid overwhelming its traction. 580 vs 610 ponies,
does that make any difference? Ferrari 488GTB and McLaren 675LT have
even more power and torque yet their chassis seem to have no problem to
cope with. The V10 now produces its peak power at 8000 rpm, 250 rpm
lower than before. Likewise, its maximum torque is reduced by 15
pound-foot to 398 lbft. By the way, like the recently updated LP610-4
(or Audi R8), this V10 has added cylinder deactivation technology to
save fuel. CO2 emission is reduced from
290 to 278 grams per km.
On the road, the said reduction of horsepower is not perceptible. This
is still a fabulous V10. It revs and screams madly on wide open
throttle. Maybe it’s not as fast as the aforementioned turbocharged
rivals, but subjectively it feels more thrilling. Moreover, with a top
speed just shy of 200 mph and 0-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds, the LP580-2
is still mighty
fast! Sometimes I wonder why people pursue for performance higher than
Having ditched the front drive shaft, multi-plate clutch and front
differential, the LP580-2 is 33 kg lighter than the 4WD model. It could
have been lighter still if its chassis were designed as an RWD from the
outset. Inevitably, weight distribution is worsened from 43:57 to
40:60, but the point here is a more transparent handling
characteristic. By softening the front suspension a little and using
bespoke wheels and tires, the car has shifted its balance from
understeer to neutral or even oversteer. Driving in Sport mode, the
slightly numb initial response of LP610-4 no longer presents, replaced
with a keener turn-in. If you push it harder in corner, the RWD car
will oversteer readily. Unfortunately, the electronic stability control
is too eager to intervene, and it intervenes abruptly to spoil the fun.
point here is a more transparent handling characteristic...
Switch to Corsa (race) mode is supposed to raise the
electronics, but strangely, it also shifts the balance back to
understeer, though not as severe as Strada mode. Lap time is reduced as
a result of less slippage, but so is the driving excitement. In Corsa
you may turn off the stability control completely, but doing so will
reveal a wayward handling. Lamborghini’s electronics is not as
brilliant as Ferrari’s Side Slip Control, or to lesser extent McLaren's
Brake Steer, which work flawlessly yet invisibly behind the scene.
The same goes for the steering, which is no more feelsome than that of
the 4WD car. Tick the optional active variable steering and it adds an
extra layer of unpredictability.
By ditching the 4WD hardware and
standard ceramic brakes (it uses steel brakes instead), the LP580-2 can
be made 15 percent cheaper than the 4WD model, although Audi R8 Plus
remains a better bargain. It is more fun to drive than both the Audi
and the standard Huracan.
Unfortunately, the flawed electronic control fails to release its full
potential. As a result, it still lives under the shadows of Ferrari and
|All rights reserved.
| Huracan Performante
Performante is no longer superlight, but it has more performance than
its name suggested.
Traditionally, the higher
performance version of small Lamborghini is called Superleggera, which
means superlight. The reason is obvious: the first generation Gallardo
Superleggera cut 100 kg from the standard car even though it retained
the 4WD system, while the second generation model slashed 70 kg for a
1430 kg kerb weight. Unfortunately, as the standard Huracan has already
employed a lot of lightweight carbon-fiber (including part of the
load-bearing chassis), the third generation high-performance small
Lambo manages only 40 kg saving from the standard Huracan, so it has to
abandon the Superleggera label and opted for a new name, Performante.
Its kerb weight is now 1492 kg, heavier than a Ferrari 488GTB and quite
a lot more than McLaren 675LT (1328 kg). Even the aluminum-and-steel
991 GT3 4.0 can undercut it by 62 kg, although you might argue that it
is still remarkably light for a car with a V10 engine and 4-wheel-drive
Another thing the Performante unlike its predecessor is that its
production is unlimited, so it will sit permanently above the standard
LP610-4 and LP580-2 in the line-up. Price starts at £213K in the
UK market, compared with £181K of the LP610-4 or £183K of
Ferrari 488GTB. It is hardly a bargain, but considering the performance
it offers, the price is probably worthwhile.
What kind of performance? We are talking about a Nurburgring lap time
of 6:52, beating Porsche 918 Spyder by no less than 5 seconds and is
currently the record holder if you ignore some thinly disguised race
cars or a mysterious electric car that nobody knows if it would be made
into production. Yes, the Performante does that with “only” a naturally
aspirated V10 displacing 5.2 liters, and without any kind of
electrification, so incredible that many doubted its record claims
until Lamborghini released the in-car-cam footage. We’ll dig deeper
into its technical side and see why it could be so fast on track.
Nurburgring time of 6:52 is incredible for a car with only a naturally
aspirated V10 and without any kind of electrification...
The Performante looks more aggressive than its siblings
thanks to a number of exterior revisions. Up front, the front splitter
is larger, more pronounced and is arranged in double-plane. Changes to
the side is more subtle, basically limited to blackened sills, door
graphics and a set of ultra-thin-spoke lightweight wheels. More
dramatic is the tail, which includes a high-mounted wing, a massive
diffuser and the exhaust is thoroughly rearranged – now twin
instead of quad-exhaust, mounted higher and closer together to make
room for aerodynamics. Overall, it trades some design purity for
aggressiveness and functions.
Speaking of aerodynamics, the front splitter is active. It incorporates
2 movable flaps, which open to reduce drag and close to enhance
downforce. However, the highlight of the so-called ALA
(Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva, or simply Lambo active aero) package
should be the rear wing, which is unquestionably innovative. Most other
supercars use hydraulically adjustable rear wing to alter downforce and
drag to suit driving conditions. The downside is more weight. Unlike
them, ALA uses a fixed carbon-fiber rear wing, but this wing is made
hollow, as are the pair of vertical supports. At the base of each
vertical support, there is an intake duct, which draws air from the
fastback through the inner channel of the hollow support to the hollow
wing. As the channel narrows, the air flow is speeded up and blows out
from the small slots at the underside of the wing. This high-speed jet
stream fills the partial vacuum region behind the wing, altering the
underside air flow and the result is reduced drag. When the movable
flap at the intake duct is closed, no air will be drawn into the wing,
thus its raised angle will guide the air flow upward and generate
downforce. As a result, the ALA wing manages to alter between
high-downforce and low-drag mode without using hydraulic actuators at
the wing. Lamborghini said at high-downforce setting the rear downforce
is increased by 7.5 times over the standard Huracan. Sadly, it did not
reveal the actual downforce figure for either cars, so we have no way
to judge if it can match a, say, 911 GT3 RS.
rear wing is innovative in the sense that it is fixed yet variable.
Another useful trick of the ALA rear wing is the ability to
alter the left and right downforce to help cornering balance, something
like Pagani Huayra. This can be easily implemented by altering the air
flow into each side. In fast bend, the inside half of the wing will be
set to produce more downforce, countering the weight transfer under
g-force and pressing the inside wheel harder to the road. The result is
better grip and less roll. Of course, it doesn't function as well in
To make possible the hollow rear wing and its supports, Lamborghini's forged
carbon-fiber composites made its debut for the first time on
production car. I am not sure if it can better Pagani's carbon-titanium
for strength-to-weight ratio, but it is denser thus allows the wing
components to be made hollow yet strong enough. Speaking of this
state-of-the-art material, the Huracan Performante also uses it to
construct the front splitter, engine lid, rear bumper and diffuser. In
addition to the lighter forged alloy wheels and exhaust, the whole car
is 40 kg lighter.
It could have been lighter still if today's millionaires were willing
sacrifice creature comfort like air-conditioning, infotainment system,
carpets and power-everything. Since they don't, the Performante is a
livable supercar. Its cabin is trimmed with Alcantara and carbon-fiber
more for looks than actual weight saving. I still dislike its edgy
though. The graphite finish of the carbon-fiber surfaces adds further
flamboyance and distraction.
creature comfort sacrificed, and now even more flamboyance.
Changes to the 5.2-liter V10 are relatively modest. Its
intake manifold and exhaust have been reworked to improve breathing,
while new titanium valves cut weight and lift rev. Valve lift is
increased, too. Brilliantly, these changes don’t make its output any
peakier. Its maximum output is 640 horsepower released at 8000 rpm,
which is 40 hp up and 250 rpm down, while peak torque is increased
by 29 to 442 pound-foot at the same 6500 rpm. Mid-range torque cannot
compete with its turbocharged rivals, of course, but still it offers at
percent of peak torque from as low as 1000 rpm. 0-60 mph acceleration
is said to be improved by 3/10ths to merely 2.8 seconds, while 0-124
mph is a full second quicker than the standard LP610-4 at 8.9 seconds,
even though it is no match for Ferrari 488GTB (8.3s), let alone the new
McLaren 720S (7.8s). Top speed remains unchanged at 202 mph.
The dual-clutch gearbox, Haldex 4WD system and steering are practically
as before, but they are predictably recalibrated. The suspension is
benefited from stiffer setup – springs and anti-roll bars get 10
percent stiffer, while bushings are 50 percent firmer. One crucial
upgrade contributing to its record Nurburgring lap time is the new set
of Pirelli Trofeo R tires. Yes, the same super-sticky, track-oriented
rubbers fitted to McLaren 675LT and Pagani Huayra BC. Since they wear
out as quickly as Donald Trump
changes his attitude on China, the standard road tires are Pirelli P
Zero Corsa instead.
On the Road
One thing Lamborghini still differs from its rivals is using big
naturally aspirated engines. The 5.2-liter V10 is as free-revving and
responsive to throttle as you can imagine. It can spin to 8500 rpm
accompanied with an angry roar that masks all turbocharged motors. It
offers plenty of torque low down but overall the power delivery is
linear and controlled. The twin-clutch gearbox also seems to change
swifter than the standard car’s, so the gap from Ferrari is closer than
ever. Does the car feel fast? Yes, of course, if not as explosive as
McLaren or Ferrari, but the extra noise makes up the small gap.
new car feels a lot more precise and confident-inspiring to push to the
However, what elevates the Performante to a higher level is
its handling, which is much transformed from the LP610-4. While the
standard car is criticized for too much understeer and too little
driver interaction, the Performante feels sharper, more agile and more
precise. It might be the effect of ALA or the stiffer suspension or the
grippier tires, or most likely the sum of all changes, its turn-in is
noticeably sharper, while understeer is nearly non-existent. The front
Trofeo R tires offer huge amount of grip and keeps the nose on rails.
In Corsa (race) mode, the recalibrated active variable-ratio steering
has replaced its notorious unpredictable manner with a measured
linearity, thanks to a much narrower variation range. As a result, the
new car feels a lot more precise and confident-inspiring to push to the
On a fast circuit, the Performante flows through corners with minimum
fuss. Its huge grip, downforce and precision suit a fast track.
Predictably, with 4WD it is not as playful as the rear-drive Ferrari,
McLaren or 911 GT3. You can induce oversteer in Corsa mode with heavy
braking in corner entry, but the angle is subtle, and it won’t sustain
for long, because the front wheels will regain traction shortly
afterwards. This manner is unlikely to change until Lamborghini
replaces the Haldex system with something capable of torque vectoring.
As a result, purist drivers will prefer Ferrari and McLaren for their
extra feel, interaction and balance on throttle. The Lambo is built
with a different philosophy: precise, fluent and lose no time in
slipping. It is a very effective track car, and that’s why it can break
Nurburbring record, but it is not necessarily the most exciting to
On poorer roads, the stiffer suspension inevitably returns a busier
ride, but overall it is still livable enough for day-to-day drives. It
seems to leave some space for a Superleggera derivative to be developed
– what if it slashes more weight by ditching equipment, sound
insulation and using plexiglass windows etc.? and what if Lamborghini
stops chasing lap time and ditches 4WD for more agility? No, I don’t
think that will happen considering how successful its sales now (and
the SUV is just around the corner). Yes, this is a 5-star car in no
doubt, but it is a little bit disappointing to find out that, although
it has finally realized the potential of Huracan, it fails to open a