First Drive: 2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

First Drive: 2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante
 

Lamborghini’s most raging Huracán to date, the Performante, was launched recently at a rather balmy city of Bologna, Italy only a few kilometres from the company’s factory in Sant’Agata.

The Performante (Performance in Italian) sits just above the Huracán in the hierarchical structure and beefs up both the visual and performance aspects of the regular model. It is a visually stimulating thing to behold, typical of the brand’s design ethos, which features jutted lines and a low and wide stance reminiscent of the Countach supercar of the 1980s.

So what sets the Performante apart? Well, for starters, the model uses a great deal of forged composite materials — essentially recycled carbon fibre in the front valance, side sills, rear spoiler and interior. Further lightweight materials include the titanium hewn exhaust system that now sprouts between tail lights as opposed to below the rear valance in the regular model. This led to a weight reduction of 40kg, bringing the model’s dry weight to 1 382kg.

Meanwhile, there has been a slight bump up in power with the normally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine now thumping out an additional 21kW and 40Nm bringing the total to 470kW and 600Nm. This all translates to a slightly more eager sports car that takes only 2.9 seconds to get to 100km/h from rest and 8.9 seconds to get to 200km/h from stationary, while the top end is pegged at 325km/h. This places it in the performance realm of the Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 570S and Porsche 911 Turbo S.

What those stats don’t convey is the emotional aspect that comes with a normally aspirated, high revving engine such as the one in the Huracán Performante and the gun-trigger like throttle response that comes with an atmospheric engine. Don’t get me wrong, the turbo engines in the aforementioned rivals are mighty in their respective performance repertoires, but then nothing quite stirs the soul like the banshee wailing of an atmospheric engine.

To ascertain the outright performance of the model, we were set loose on the Imola racetrack. The track is a technical piece of tarmac, characterised by chicanes, various changes in elevations and an exhilarating main straight. Our first lap was more of a sighting lap, learning where to brake and get back on the power. The Performante was easy to drive and we were quickly able to delve into its power and grip reserves.

Thanks to the four-wheel drive system, driving the vehicle in full attack Corsa (race) mode is both exhilarating and confidence-inspiring. While some four-wheel drive systems rob the driver of full control, the system employed here actually adds a layer of enjoyment to appease any enthusiast. With more confidence it was into the main straight from a warm lap, keeping the throttle pinned in third gear as I let the engine wind up to the 8500rpm redline before summoning fourth via the upshift paddle.

The straight kinks slightly to the right and then to the left, all the while keeping the throttle pinned to the floor boards. I glance at the speedometer and 245km/h is registered while the acceleration and forward progress is not dissipating. The fateful Tamburello corner looms. In a split second the braking marker is in view and I stomp on the anchors.

Initial pedal bite is good, but I then dig deeper into the dinner-plate sized carbon brakes, while shifting from fourth, to third, before nosing the bull into the chicane. The previous long left-hander — before the chicane was engineered into the new track layout — meant that Formula One drivers could previously keep the throttle fully opened for more than 22 seconds, at which point they were doing in excess of 300km/h.

I manage to get the car slowed down to about 85km/h before slowing down for the Tosa hairpin, which can be taken in third. Accelerate up to Piratella, which is fast flowing, and one can really feel the aero of the vehicle working to keep it stuck to the tarmac as the track drops as you dab the brake for Acque Minerali into a double right hander as you head up to the Alta chicane.

Clip both apexes before accelerating towards a blind Rivazza, where the vehicle’s rear end squirms under braking, but keep braking in a straight line and it soon settles. The next double left hander brings you back into the main straight and you can do it all over again.

On the road, the model is easily as comfortable as the Audi R8, in spite of the stiffer suspension setup, but the Performante’s main forte will remain the racetrack, where the bull’s rage truly comes into its own.

According to Lamborghini SA, only four models will come to SA later in 2017, so if you place your order today delivery will only be sometime in 2018. I can gladly report that the wait will be worth it. – Lerato Matebese