Driven: Lamborghini Huracan

Driven: Lamborghini Huracan
 

There has always been a reason why a Lamborghini has carried a bull as its logo. There are, of course, historical reasons that go back to its origin but a Lambo has always been less than refined. The models have always been brutal, bullish if you will, in the way they despatch the immense amount of power available to the road.

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I have driven many of them over the years and often come back to the same way of comparing a Lambo to its major rivals from Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin. The Fezza is a top quality champagne, but the Lambo is the best beer in the market. To some this might sound as though I am putting the Lambo down but as anyone who prefers beer to champagne will tell you, I am not. The Gallardo continued this trend with its proper feeling of G-forces as the gearbox changed up a gear under hard acceleration and you were jammed back into your seat. It was threatening in a way that was exciting.

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Like the Murcielago and even the Diablo and Countach before that, it made you feel as though you had to work to keep it under control when pushing hard. What the Gallardo did do, though, was add in a dose of refinement. Only a little, mind you, just enough to make you think you could drive it to the office. Now the company has replaced the Gallardo with the Huracan and it takes things a step further in the refinement stakes, venturing into what some call the realm of the everyday supercar. In the styling department though, everything remains brutal. There are none of the sexy curves of the Ferrari 458 or the traditional shape of the 911 Turbo. Its dramatic edges and angles makes it look as though it wants to bolt at the first opportunity. The Gallardo looked good, but the Huracan looks amazing.

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Fortunately the interior is equally dramatic. Gone are the Audi elements that dominated the Gallardo, replaced by something altogether bespoke to the Huracan. Some of the knobs and switches are still Audi but they are surrounded by hexagonal shapes and dramatic angles, much like the exterior. The drama is enhanced further by the jet fighter style cover over the start button, the extrusion that is the gear shift selector and the bright red button on the bottom of the steering wheel to change the drivetrain and suspension settings. Even the vast digital instrument cluster is dramatic in the vein of a race car.

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Unfortunately that instrument cluster is not so easy to use and the two days we had with it were not enough. Beggars can’t be choosers they say but I am sure that with more time I would have been able to master the multiple menus and offerings in the instrument panel. If you find yourself on a twisty road then best you set everything up beforehand because it will be far too distracting to do it on the fly. So how does it fly? Well, this brings me back to that refinement issue. This is no everyday supercar in the way of the Audi R8, but it has definitely lost some of the brutality of its forebears. It is trying harder to take on the Ferrari and the Porsche in the comfort stakes. For many this will not be a bad thing, but it does mean that some of the traditional Lambo character has been diluted.

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Times change and these days we all seem to want smooth dual clutch gearboxes. We want to be able to hold a conversation instead of being drowned out by the noise of that massive V10 in the back. Some of us, anyway. What the Huracan does still have is plenty of raw power and a level of grip that is simply astonishing. On the second day I had it, the heavens opened and the roads of Jozi were awash. This was not ideal supercar driving conditions but the all-wheel drive system provided a level of grip that just blew my mind. I was expecting, even wanting, the back to step out when urged to do so but it took a surprising amount of urging, particularly when all the nanny controls were in place in Strada (Street) mode. Push that red button into Sport and the controls lessen until almost dropping away altogether in Corsa (Race) mode — the latter being best used only on the track, of course.

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The new seven-speed Lamborghini Doppia Frizione dual clutch gearbox is superb even if you do have to have the revs in the upper limit in manual mode to experience that kick in the chest when changing gear. Leave it in auto and it delivers the 448kW and 560Nm faster than a politician’s denial, reaching 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds. It can go on to a top speed in excess of 325km/h. With fine weather on the first day I had the chance to find some twists and turns and realise this is one very well sorted bull. It provides an extremely high level of confidence in the corners even when you want to drop a gear at the apex and launch out of it. It barely baulks at any change in direction with the all-wheel drive providing inspiring levels of grip that make you realise that the car is probably capable of offering much more than most drivers can handle.

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I yearned for a race track. It is also extremely well connected to the driver. This is often an overused and inappropriate description that motoring hacks apply to various cars but in this case it is true. While not as connected as you feel in a 911 — somehow Porsche has managed to get the patent on this level of oneness between man and machine — the Huracan nonetheless comes damn close. So would I buy one, if I happened to have nearly five bar burning a hole in my back pocket? It is a difficult question because I love the looks, the incredible level of grip and the vast amount of power. The 911 Turbo will give you most of this and plenty of change but at this price point I would still have to go with the beauty and personality of the 458. Ask me again when the more raw Superleggera version comes along though, and I might be tempted to change my mind.

Mark Smyth

The Facts: Lamborghini Huracan
Engine: 5,214cc, V10
Power: 448kW at 8,250rpm
Torque: 560Nm at 6,500rpm
0-100km/h: 3.2 seconds
Top speed: 325km/h
Fuel consumption: 12.5l/100km
CO2: 290g/km
Pricing: R4,750,000