14 December, 2015
The running of the bull
How do you follow up on the most successful Lamborghini in history? The Gallardo ran for a decade and sold over 14,000 units, but it’s time to step aside and make way for the all-new Huracàn LP 610-4. We simply had to grab the keys
Waiting for me in a non-descript underground car park was the all-new 610bhp, V10-powered Lamborghini Huracàn that, at the time of writing, was one of just two in the country, having been flown in specially for us to drive. Still on its Italian licence plates, those in power at Lamborghini had enticed the local authorities to allow this one car on the roads with foreign plates and now I held its key. Approaching the green beast in its subterranean lair the pulse quickened with each step closer, it’s not every day that Lamborghini releases a completely new car from the ground up and this most certainly is an all-new Lamborghini. For a card-carrying auto-holic like myself, the opportunity to be one of the first to drive it was a truly thrilling experience. The Huracàn replaces the Gallardo that served well for the decade from 2003 through 2013 and though it doesn’t have the scissor doors of its Aventador big brother–which have characterised Lamborghinis since the ground-breaking Countach of the 1970’s–there was still a flush of anticipation as I fingered the key and thumbed the unlock button. The indicators flash a cursory welcome and with the precision of a Swiss army knife the flush-mounted door handle pops out, inviting me to unwrap my present and climb in. Nestling into an interior that is immediately evocative of an aircraft cockpit, actually make that a fighter aircraft cockpit with an overtone of armed and alert, one soaks it all in… thoroughly impressed but knowing the best is yet to come. Well nobody is going to be disappointed with the ‘spectacle’ that is an integral part of a Lamborghini road show. For generations now, driving a Lamborghini is an event that’s deliberately staged to within an inch of its life. The Huracàn has its roots steeped in Spanish bull fighting history. In fact the model takes its named from a fighting bull of the Spanish Conte de la Patilla breed that fought in August 1879 in Alicante. Legend has it that the beast’s obdurate character made him invincible. How the Italian maestros can follow that up does make one wonder, but that’s the future and nestled in the driver’s seat we were very much concerned with the present.
The first act in the Huracàn’s performance is the ignition procedure. There’s no simple turning of the key or push of a button, instead on flicks the bright red lever in the center console to ‘Arm’ the car, and only then is the start button revealed. One places a foot on the brake and pushes the button, then there’s brief interval while the digital wizardry communicates with the starter motor and… BANG! Like a maddening clap of thunder, ten finely honed, precision-engineered alloy cylinders participate in what feels like a barely controlled explosion, just inches behind your head. With four pipes pointing point blank at the concrete wall of the basement hell the defibrillating effect punches your heart into redline territory, but the pulse soon settles as the percussion waves echoing around the dungeon fade into a low and comforting bass burble. Lowering the red lever back over the start button we’re good to go. As a point of note, there’s another small aircraft-style lever behind the start button for selecting reverse, making it mercifully unlikely that you’ll accidentally select it if not focused on the job in hand. Nudging out of our parking space we’re reminded that believing you simply drive a Lamborghini is selling both yourself and the car short. One doesn’t just ‘drive’ a Lambo, you master it in the same way a rider becomes accustomed his horse. Though not in a bad way as the days of fickle, badly tempered supercars are long gone, but in a way that rewards the time and effort one puts into discovering each other’s personality and limits. Through the pedals the Huracàn creates a direct connection between the balls of your feet and its throttle linkage and ceramic brake discs, while your fingertips read every nuance of the road through the perfectly weighted steering wheel with the unerring confidence of a braille reader. Puffing and snorting, yet affable enough to make our exit from the city center drama free, we pointed the Huracàn toward the open road and settled into the drive to the hills that had all the comforting reassurance of a pair of well-worn denim jeans. True to Lamborghini tradition, there are no turbos on the Huracàn’s naturally aspirated engine, so power is linear all the way through to its 8,500rpm redline. The 5.2-litre, V10 engine delivers 610bhp and 560Nm of torque and yet weighs just 1422kg. With so much power wrapped in a lithe body, it’s no wonder it can get you to 62mph in 3.2 seconds and on to 124mph in less time than it took you to read this sentence. Top speed is reported to be 201mph and though space and a desire to retain my license precluded achieving it, I have little reason to doubt the veracity of the figure given the amount of travel left on the throttle during several surreptitious blasts on open roads.
The new model sports a seven-speed, dual clutch gearbox for smoother changes and three distinct driving modes: Strada, Sport and Corse. The majority of the time we had the car the ‘Sport’ indicator was lit, seeing as it offered a more sonorous rasp to the exhaust note and more aggressive gear changes. When not ragging around like a boy racer however and traveling to a destination, ‘Strada’ mode humbles the beast into a relatively sedate cruiser and also invokes the auto stop-start function that kills the engine at lights and saves fuel. As for ‘Corsa’, well let’s just say that is best left for track days when you can explore its limits without worrying about other road users. Italian supercars have come a long way and nowhere was this better illustrated than when I had to return the Huracàn in afternoon rush hour traffic. Not long ago I would have been a bundle of nerves checking gauges and slipping a big, heavy clutch to get it moving at snail’s pace, but in this case the Huracàn was a dream and it seemed almost impossible that it was carrying the same badge as those grumpy Italian bulls of years gone by. Pulling into the underground car park one final time, its low ride height allowed it to slip cheekily under the boom gate like a naughty teen at a rock concert. Thank you Lamborghini for keeping the fun alive. Theatre or rock concert, time spent driving the Huracàn is one heck of a show.