Un­hook the front wheels, turn the wick down a tad, lower the price to match: baby Hu­racán’s a hit

Octane - - CONTENTS - Words Jethro Bov­ing­don

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.

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