While the Ferrari 458 has been the alpha dog in the sports-car class for many years, Lamborghini may now be ready to eat at least some of Ferrari's lunch -- maybe a veggie side dish. It might also steal something from the hors d'oeuvre tray of McLaren. Because the new Lamborghini Huracán can actually go around a corner, and do it fairly quickly, without understeering into the gravel trap. This miracle can be credited to the patron saints of just about everything, that also being what Lamborghini engineers and designers changed when making the V10-powered successor to the wildly popular Gallardo.
The Huracán (say “oooo rah-Kahn” or just say "Hurricane") is built around a hybrid chassis, meaning a mix of aluminum and carbon fiber. Carbon fiber makes up the rear bulkhead, part of the door sills and all of the transmission tunnel. The rest of the frame and all of the outer skin is aluminum. Thus the new car weighs just 3,135 pounds dry, which is how Lamborghini measures it. While a typical U.S. curb weight will be higher, it should still make for a pretty good power-to-weight ratio.
The Lamborghini Huracán also gets a new 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10 mounted longitudinally just forward of the rear axle. Using both direct injection into the cylinder and normal injection into the intake manifold, it makes 610 hp at 8,250 rpm, a couple hundred revs before redline. A new seven-speed dual clutch transmission sits aft of the rear axle. Power goes to all four wheels through an electrohydraulic multiplate clutch. Normally the rear axle gets 70 percent of that torque but that can vary depending on need anywhere from 50 percent front to 100 percent rear.
How Does It Drive?
If you've ever driven a Gallardo on a track or even on a good twisty road you'll be somewhere between "pleasantly surprised" and "gobsmacked" at the difference between that car and the Huracán. There are a number of reasons for this. For instance, what used to be known simply as power steering is now Lamborghini Dynamic Steering that continuously varies the ratio from 9.1:1 to 17.1:1 by increasing the rate at which the electric motor moves the steering rack. The double wishbone suspension is controlled by new magnetorheological dampers that adjust instantly depending on what the ECU tells them to do. Damping decisions are based on input from the new “Adaptive Network Intelligent Management,” or ANIMA system, which takes cues from a number of sources including three onboard accelerometers and three gyroscopes to decide on the appropriate action. The driver has some influence, too, by setting a steering wheel-mounted ANIMA switch either to Strada, Sport or Corsa.
We got 16 laps around the 3.4-mile Ascari circuit in Southern Spain, a fine club racing track made up of very fun on-camber bowls. The track was almost too easy to drive because the banking is so steep and so canted toward the inside of the turns that it would be really, really hard to make a mistake – the banking practically drives the car for you. Nonetheless we were able to get a number of Huracáns to slide just a little bit.
Lamborghini asked that we leave the ESC on during our drives, no doubt wanting to make their test cars last through all the groups of journalists (and levels of talent) that were planning to come through. Yet even with it off (ahem...we heard) there still seemed to be some ESC intervention.
We tried all three ANIMA modes and both manual and automatic transmission settings. Ah, the transmission -- what a dream. Working the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters was so seamlessly smooth that the car never so much as hiccuped even when we shifted in the fastest and tightest corners of the track. Try that in an Aventador and your supercar will move all over the place. The only time we got any untoward actions from the Huracán was when we were accelerating from one corner and transitioning to the next and the AWD was trying desperately to apportion torque to the front axle. At that point, the car yawed a fair amount as the front axle gradually got that torque, making us wish for a simple rear-drive configuration with a limited-slip rear diff for better exits from corners. But the turn-in to those corners was remarkably precise for a Lamborghini.
The Huracán wasn't as precise as the 458 or the new McLaren 650S, but it was very good. The Corsa setting was the best on the track, of course, and even when we forgot to set the shifter to manual mode we found that in automatic, the downshifts came quickly upon entering a corner and closer to redline than we would have gone (we upshifted at 8,000 rpm -- the automatic mode did it close to the 8,400-rpm or so redline).
Later, driving on mountain roads, we found the Huracán equally thrilling, if somewhat less comfortable over the inevitable bumps and dips than we'd found it on the billiard-table-smooth Ascari surface. You'll still enjoy it without being beaten up too much, even in Strada mode.
Do I Want It?
You can add this to the short list of sports cars you want to consider if you have a quarter of a million dollars. As Lamborghini's chief engineer Maurizio Reggiani said of the people who make the 458, “They have much to be worried about…”
2015 Lamborghini Huracán price and specifications
On Sale: Late summer deliveries; available to order since January
Base Price: $243,000 (est.)
Drivetrain: 5.2-liter, 610-hp, 413-lb-ft naturally aspirated V10; AWD, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Curb Weight: 3,135 lb (mfg)
0-62: 3.2 sec (mfg)
Fuel Economy (EPA): TBA (18.8 mpg combined European cycle)
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