A Modern Bob Special
The Performante, the latest (and fastest) incarnation of the Huracán supercar, is, in essence, a tribute to development engineer, Bob Wallace, who, during his time at Sant’agata in the 1960s, created three lightweight, high-performance versions of Lamborghini road cars.
Back then, Wallace, working with Gian Paolo Dallara and Paolo Stanzani, developed the Miura prototype and production cars, aiding the development of the Miura S and SV versions.
Despite Ferruccio Lamborghini’s reluctance to become involved in motorsport, Wallace believed the production models had great racing potential, and to prove this he built modified versions of the road-going cars.
The most well-known of these specials was the P400 Jota, a radical lightweight, high-performance version of the Miura, built in 1970. Weight reductions in the car included using lightweight aluminium alloy for the chassis components and plastic for the side windows, and it weighed approximately 360 kg less than a production Miura. The Jota’s modified engine with an increased compression ratio, altered cams, electronic ignition, dry-sump lubrication, and free-flow exhaust produced up to 325 kw at 8,800 rpm, and the single example was sold to a private buyer. In April 1971, it burnt out completely after a crash.
After the Jota, Wallace modified a Lamborghini Jarama by stiffening the chassis, using lighter body panels, and upgrading the suspension, aerodynamics, and engine. This car became known as the Jarama Bob (or RS).
The final Wallace special was the Urraco Bob (or Rally), created from a pre-production prototype. Wallace lightened and stiffened the car, provided it with aerodynamic enhancements, a roll cage, six-speed transaxle, and a special quattrovalvole 3-litre V8 engine producing 230 kw. Interestingly, this was the only one of the three Bob Specials to actually be raced – in a single outing at Misano Circuit in Italy.
Following the sale of the company in 1974, Wallace left Lamborghini the following year and settled in Phoenix, Arizona. He died in 2013 – the 50th anniversary year of Lamborghini – at the age of 75.
History sometimes take interesting twists. If it was not for numerous lifelines to recapitalise the bankrupt Lamborghini
three decades ago, the company would have been extinct for years by now. And there would have been no Performante.
Under Audi’s guidance, the company has regained its place among the revered supercar brands, and the Huracán Performante is an excellent example of what the company can now achieve.
Much like the radical Urraco Bob, the Huracán Performante sports a big rear wing. But with all the trick tech available, it is an active aero device, part of a system aptly called ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghidsni Attiva). Ala also means wing in Italian. While 80% lighter than regular sports car hydraulic systems, it is said that ALA provides the Performante with up to 750% more downforce than the regular Huracán, and it has helped the Performante to become the fastest normally aspirated production car around the Green Hell, or Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Extensive bodywork changes on the Performante include revised carbon fibre front and rear bumpers and bumper skirts, and the splitter and diffuser now have active individual aerodynamic elements.
It is also 40 kg lighter than the normal LP640-4, thanks to a forged aluminium and forged carbon fibre body (as used in the Sesto Elemento), hollow parts, and the revised exhaust system’s position, which has been moved to just above the rear diffuser.
The interior is a jumble of hexagonal shapes and toggle switches, but at least the newly-designed sport seats are comfortable and the Audi-derived TFT virtual cockpit display with MMI interface brings some semblance of order to the otherwise cluttered dashboard.
New springs, roll bars, radial, and axial arm bushings have stiffened the chassis by another 10%, and the updated 5.2-litre V10 with new intake ducts now pushes out 471 kw at 8,000 rpm and 601 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm – good enough for a theoretical top speed of 351 km/h (it is in fact limited to 325 km/h).
Firing up the V10, I was surprised at how subdued it sounded at idling speed, and with the 7-speed LDF (Lamborghini Doppia Frizione) transmission in Strada mode, the car was docile and relaxed in town traffic.
The reworked magnetorheological shocks and suspension gives the Performante a remarkably good ride at low speed. But it is so low you need to keep reminding yourself to lift the suspension for virtually any big bump in the road.
Selecting Sport with the red button on the flat-rimmed steering wheel changed the car’s whole demeanour. The V10’s engine note became vibrant and visceral, the gear changes shorter and sharper, and the damping quicker.
With that 10-cylinder screaming in my ear, the transmission seamlessly flipping through the gears, and the spoilers snapping into their lowest-drag setting, I could just imagine Wallace behind the wheel of the original Miura Jota, seeing off the challengers from Ferrari and Maserati on his infamous autostrada runs.
The Performante was even better taking on winding mountain roads with the clever aero and the recalibrated, more direct steering, and the wellsorted suspension kept it firmly planted and resolutely on course while scything through the corners.
It is so finely balanced and sure-footed, thanks to the Haldex all-wheel drive system and fat 20-inch tyres providing copious amounts of grip. Yet it is so easy to drive that it makes any driver looks good.
I never really got it to perform on the limit, running out of bravado and talent long before the car did. But at my limit of commitment the Performante behaved impeccably, boding well for when it is made to dance at the extreme edge of adhesion.
Like Wallace’s special Jota and Jarama, the Performante is really a race car for the road – it may well have been named Huracán Bob. It is a superb piece of automotive engineering – a car Wallace would have been extremely proud of. Specifications
Engine: V10, 90°, Multi-point and Direct fuel injection
Max. power: 470 kw @ 8,000 rpm
Max. torque: 600 Nm @ 6,500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed LDF, all-wheel drive, rear locking differential
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 2,9 seconds
Acceleration 0-200 km/h: 8,9 seconds
Top speed: 325 km/h (limited)
Consumption: 13,7 l/100 km
CO2 Emissions: 314 g/km
Price: R5,835,500 (dependant on exchange rate)