Stunning looks, 610hp, 4-wheel drive – and it’s a Lambo! Tim Oldland has a brief drive in Lamborghini’s new baby…
How much can you tell about a car in a few hours? Well it turns out, quite a lot. I had often wondered what can really be garnered from just a few hours driving a new car, sometimes in a non-ideal location, but that is generally what a press launch of a car is for most non-high-profile journalists. You fly out to a foreign city, sit through a long presentation telling you about the ‘emotion’ and ‘brand significance’ of this new model and then you get given a set of keys and a very tight schedule to get a feel for it and take photos.
And so this is why I found myself at Auto Vivendi in central London again. They were the lovely people that supplied the Ferrari California T for the last weekly special competition that BOTB ran and had happily agreed to provide for this test too. The issue was, I only had this idea and managed to organise it at the absolute last minute so on a very wet Wednesday I found myself staring at an incredibly bright red Lamborghini Huracan and about 4hrs in which to drive it (including doing a video with BOTB MD Will and take photos) – most of which would be across London in heavy rain and traffic. Interesting…
I’d seen a few Huracans before, at a rather fun event called VMax and on the odd street around Kensington, but I’d never examined one in detail before, and especially not in this bright red. This is a truly, incredibly, spectacularly stunning car – the kind that simply makes you stand there and stare at it even if you’re standing in pouring rain. The shape is almost hypnotic, the way the swage line curves up over the arches, down to the doors and back up again, every sweep, every crease and line has a purpose and contributes to either aerodynamics or cooling. In pictures I thought the nose looked a little awkward as it’s too low, but no – in the metal the nose is indeed low but it’s just incredibly aggressive.
The massive angular intakes and sharp, jutting splitter, combined with the slim headlights that resemble angry eyes make the Huracan look like some kind of evil aggressive reptile. The way the wing air intakes blend into the roof panel makes the car look even wider than it is, an impressive feat given the car’s already not inconsiderable girth. At the rear Lamborghini have been if anything even more adventurous, with the louvered engine cover panel a real standout. In all honesty I prefer the glass engine cover as you get to see out of the back more and see more of the engine, but can understand the retro cool lure of the slats. The rear end is unlike any car on sale, with a wide mesh grille sitting below the angular built in spoiler lip, and slim LED rear lights curving around it at the side. Then there’s the massive rear diffuser that sticks out, housing the four artillery cannon-sized exhaust pipes.
The inside is pure Lamborghini too, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re sitting in a fighter jet. Ahead of you is the angular steering wheel with large metal gearshift paddles behind it that look like they’d stop a tank. The wheel itself has taken some inspiration from Ferrari, as all the major column controls are now buttons, so you control the lights, indicators, wipers etc all with small buttons. I understand the desire to be more like an F1 car, but things like the indicators are just too small and fiddly when they’re used so regularly, plus it makes it very difficult to indicate off a roundabout as you can’t operate them while the wheel is turned. To your left is a high centre console containing lots of buttons and a very cool red flap for the starter button that is pure theatre. There’s a small screen at the top that shows some smaller gauges or the climate control details but you notice that there’s no big satnav screen. That’s because like the new Audi TT, the dials are replaced with a large TFT screen that shows a multitude of options. Normally it’s a large rev counter in the middle, with speed one side and other ancillary information the other, but you can also have a small satnav screen or the whole screen can become one big satnav screen with just your speed and smaller info at the sides. When driving in town this is incredibly useful, and should be available on every car. One issue I did have was that I thought the seat should go about an inch lower. I always felt that my whole body should just be slightly lower in the car. There was plenty of headroom, but for me I had issues with the header rail being too low – though I fully concede that at 6ft 3 I’m outside the ‘normal’ sized driver range! It makes for an amusing image though – this was taken with the camera at my eye level:
Now somehow I’ve managed to get all this way into this review without mentioning the Huracan’s best feature – the engine. In a world of downsizing and turbocharging (even the Porsche 911 has done it now) it’s a breath of fresh air to see that Lamborghini still persist with this glorious 5.2 litre V10. Despite the similarities to the engine in the Gallardo LP560, it’s actually an all-new engine, producing an incredible 610PS (602bhp) and 413lb/ft of torque sent to all four wheels via the impressive 7-speed dual clutch gearbox.
When you flip that fighter jet toggle up and start the engine, make sure there are no small animals, old people or those of a nervous disposition nearby as the noise that erupts from those massive pipes is enough to wake the dead. A massive blare of revs assaults your ears and it quickly settles into a rich, rounded burble, the kind of which can only be made by a V10. It’s a bit rougher, fruitier than a creamy V8 burble, taking some of the mechanical edge of a V12 idle but striking a wonderful balance between the two. If your engine is warm and you’ve cleared a 2 miles exclusion zone around yourself, you can give the throttle a few exploratory prods – those with pacemakers need not even consider it – as by all that is good and correct in this world the noise that follows is hilarious, frightening, soul stirring, organ trembling and ever so slightly arousing. The way the engine rips around to the redline, screaming at the top end yet bassy and mellifluous at the bottom end is a marvel.
As you flick that inviting mechanical lever behind the wheel into 1st the first thing you notice is how easy the Huracan is to drive – after all, this is a 600+bhp Lamborghini which sounds scary enough on its own. But no, there’s light steering, quite forgiving suspension is normal mode, good visibility from the wing mirrors and you’ve got all that tech helping you too. If you can deal with the lack of visibility through the rear screen it’s a perfectly usable car to drive daily. As I mentioned earlier, time was short with this Lamborghini, so after video and photo duties were taken care of there was just enough time to head out onto some nice open roads to see how good it really is.
As with the LP560, the noise that this Lambo V10 makes when you accelerate is something everyone should experience once in their lives. I know just how lucky I am to be able to do this whenever I get the chance to drive something like this. Start in 3rd gear, around 30mph, hold it in gear and plant the throttle. A deep rumble which resonates through your body gives way to a harder edged rasp, and onto a screaming wail at high revs – such a noise deserves to be put on vinyl and listened to by the finest musical scholars on the planet, such is its multi-tonal brilliance. Of course you probably won’t appreciate that noise the first time as you’ll be too busy hanging on for dear life – the acceleration is absolutely punishing. The numbers are impressive, 3.2 seconds to 62mph and a 202mph top speed, but that doesn’t give you even the slightest hint of how quick the Huracan really is. I doubt an Aventador would be able to pull away too much and I’d say point-to-point the little brother would be quicker across country.
From the short time I had, I certainly enjoyed the handling too – direct steering, lots of feel, well controlled damping, all made for a very confidence-inspiring car and was a real hoot to throw around a bit. The worst bit is that I’m now aching to get more time in one and take it to my favourite driving roads, to really see how it compares to the Ferrari 488GTB and McLaren 650S. Except I already know that answer – if you gave me the keys to all three and asked me to keep one it would be the Huracan. That may seem odd as I haven’t driven the 488 – few have – but for me the choice would be down to looks, sound and feel as much as handling and raw speed and for me even if the Huracan may be only 90% as well handling as the other two, it absolutely trounces them in desirability for me. It’s a proper supercar with outrageous looks, an outrageous performance and and ridiculously silly exhaust noise. I’m sure there are some states in the U.S. where you can marry a car aren’t there?…