NEW CAR NEWS
Unhook the front wheels, turn the wick down a tad, lower the price to match: baby Huracán’s a hit
Rear-drive Huracán, Bentley’s SUV and more
Supercar StereotypeS just don’t apply in 2015. Ferrari has long abandoned open-gate manual gearboxes, the Porsche 911 Turbo is breathtakingly capable but not at all scary, newcomer McLaren has thrown off its restrained understatement and slightly clinical approach for a much more intense, involving new philosophy, and even Lamborghini doesn’t really stick to the script. Of course they still look wild and sound like the apocalypse but gone is the threat of unpredictable handling and patchy quality; some suggest that they’ve become a little too, well, German.
I don’t subscribe to that view but understand why some people mourn the Lamborghini of old. Perhaps they have swung too far in the other direction from those early, wonderfully chaotic cars… The ‘baby’ of the range is the Huracán LP610-4 and it’s so locked down, so composed and so stable that it doesn’t really start to feel alive until you’re travelling at ludicrous speeds. Enter the LP580-2 – that’s ‘2’ for two-wheel drive – the new baby ‘baby’ model that marks a seismic shift in strategy and might just allow the Huracán to morph from uptight to uplifting.
Of course, the big news is the switch from four- to rear-wheel drive and that’s resulted in a huge number of changes. The springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are all revised, the styling and aerodynamics of the car have been altered to increase pressure over the front axle and to take account of the slightly different weight distribution (now 40:60 from the LP610-4’s 42:58), and a new Pirelli P Zero has been specifically developed to suit the rear-drive set-up. The front suspension is around 10% softer, creating a more responsive, agile balance. Lamborghini claims ‘Every aspect of the LP580-2 has been engineered for driving fun’. For which read ‘It oversteers more readily’.
The first time you pin the throttle you know that the slight downgrade in terms of power is not going to be a problem. What an engine. The big, howling 5.2-litre V10 is the last of a dying breed as the world goes turbocharged and as a result it seems even more special than ever. Throttle response is so sharp, so intuitive, and although 572bhp (580ps) at 8000rpm and 398lb ft at 6500rpm sound rather tame next to the 661bhp Ferrari 488GTB, the reality is anything but.
There’s a honey-coated fury to its delivery that’s unmatched by any of its rivals. Oh, and at around £160,000, the LP580-2 actually makes most ‘rivals’ – £185,000 or more for the usual suspects – seem pretty expensive. Although you do have to put up with steel brakes instead of the usual ceramics…
Today that’s not a problem as our first taste of the car is on circuit and Lamborghini has kindly decreed that all of the launch cars are fitted with the superbly resilient carbon-ceramics and the optional MagneRide adjustable dampers.
As before, the ANIMA switch on the steering wheel allows you to toggle between Strada, Sport and Corsa modes. The first of them makes for a meek monster, reined in by very conservative stability control, the V10 gagged, its responses stifled, and the chassis balance displaying a strong tendency towards understeer.
Forget that then. Sport is better, the engine finding its voice, the suspension tuned for turn-in response and the ESC system set-up to allow the tail to wag the bull. Sadly, the seven-speed dual-clutch ’box still upshifts automatically in this mode if you get close to
the limiter, robbing you of control, and compared with equivalent systems from Ferrari and McLaren the electronics still feel overly jumpy. For me the chassis also feels unnervingly loose in quicker corners, almost like the intended ‘fun’ adjustability is a little contrived.
Corsa is much the better option. The chassis feels consistent and controlled, the gearbox remains in the gear you select even if you thwack the limiter and, although the balance is a bit more neutral, with 572bhp to play with you can steer the car with that searing V10 engine should you have the space and the inclination. On the Losail circuit in Qatar we have both and the LP580-2 really does feel like an altogether more indulgent car. There’s a bit of turn-in understeer but it’s so easy to balance the car on the power and then play with its trajectory. It feels best gently sliding but barely requiring any correction – an old-fashioned four-wheel drift – but it’ll light up the rear Pirellis and howl around at extreme angles if you fancy it.
How that will relate to a bumpy British B-road remains to be seen, but I suspect it will make the driver feel a more integral part of how the Huracán picks apart every corner and also provide more excitement at lower speeds. With those looks, an amazing naturally aspirated engine and sweet gearbox, and the German influence that makes the boring stuff such as sat-nav and Bluetooth actually work, the Huracán LP580-2 is a very modern supercar with its heart rooted in the good old days. We approve.
Clockwise from top left Making the Huracán rear-wheel drive loosens the reins and allows enthusiastic drivers to do this more easily; cheaper car, familiar interior; there’s slightly less power for the V10 but it’s no less magical.